The inaugural Emerging Professional Award for Outstanding Commitment to Anti-Racism in School Psychology was recently presented to Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims, the Special Advisor on Equity to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), by Division 16 of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Hollins-Sims is an extraordinary school psychologist whose advocacy work is making an impact on social justice and equity in Pennsylvania and across the nation.
Dr. Hollins-Sims began her career in education in the Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township School Districts, where she served as a school psychologist while pursuing her doctoral degree in school psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Hollins-Sims became a local champion for culturally responsive practices and positive behavior supports while practicing as a school psychologist for nearly a decade. She emerged as a state-level leader in her role as an educational consultant for the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistant Network (PaTTAN) before becoming the Special Advisor on Equity to PDE.
Dr. Hollins-Sims‘ professional endeavors center on addressing systemic inequities in education. While serving on the board of the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania (ASPP), she strongly advocated for training school psychologists in how to address inequities and bias in school systems. In 2017, she developed Pennsylvania‘s Equity and Inclusion Toolkit to provide resources and strategies for schools across Pennsylvania. This toolkit continues to help schools address bias and discrimination by preventing problems, responding to crises resulting from bias, and examining responses to crises to build capacity for future prevention.
Advancing her efforts to enhance social justice and equity across the commonwealth, Dr. Hollins-Sims established PDE‘s Equitable Practices Hub to provide easily accessible resources to school personnel to conduct an equity audit and subsequently action plan for enhanced equitable practices. To guide action planning for equity, resources are provided for (a) general equity practices, (b) self-awareness, (c) data practices, (d) family and community engagement, (e) academic equity, and (f) disciplinary equity. She regularly updates these resources, collaborates with multiple stakeholders across agencies, and continues to provide formal and informal training sessions to enhance the provision and implementation of these resources in Pennsylvania‘s schools and districts.
In addition to gaining recognition and momentum across the commonwealth, Dr. Hollins-Sims has also co-authored a handout published by the National Association of School Psychologists on how to combat implicit bias using culturally responsive positive behavior supports. She has provided countless conference presentations and trainings locally and nationally, during which she expertly addresses how to engage in genuine discussions about sensitive topics related to race, bias, and oppression.
Dr. Hollins-Sims is a natural leader whose relentless passion for social justice, equity, and anti-racist practices inspires all educators. She is an influential change agent for educators to identify, intervene, and address issues of inequity.
Please join the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania in recognizing and sharing Dr. Hollins-Sims‘ receipt of the inaugural Emerging Professional Award for Outstanding Commitment to Anti-Racism in School Psychology by Division 16 of the American Psychological Association.