BYU alumna Brenda Wesson was honored by the Utah Association of School Psychologists (UASP) as the School Psychologist of the Year, recognizing her excellent service in Nebo School District. Wesson explained what the award means to her and how her time at the McKay School helped guide her to where she is today.
“I see this award as a reflection of the great teams I work with in Nebo School District and as a direct result of the effective mentoring I have received from my colleagues in the Counseling Psychology & Special Education Department at BYU,” she explained.
Unexpected Career Path
Wesson began her college education with a summer term at BYU without an intention of continuing her studies there. But her experience was positive, and she decided to stay to earn her bachelor’s degree.
After graduation, Wesson worked in foster care and outreach services for the Division of Family Services for three and a half years. She became the mother of five, but as her children grew she continued to spend time exploring ways to help her kids learn more effectively and volunteering in their schools, which eventually led her to current career pursuits.
“As my children became teenagers, I began working with a clinical psychologist who was doing equine therapy and became interested in pursuing training as a mental health counselor,” Wesson said. Years after completing her undergraduate degree, Wesson started feeling an urge to go back to school. By this time, her children were in high school or beyond. She had never considered more schooling in her future but her plans changed.
“I never dreamed I would complete a graduate degree, but God knew I needed additional opportunities to learn and serve others,” Wesson said. “As I listened to the promptings of the spirit to return to school, many doors were opened and resources provided to me in miraculous ways. These all combined in providing a journey far beyond my expectations.”
Her Professional Journey
In addition to her BS in Social Work, Wesson now has an EdS in School Psychology and Counseling. “Today, I work as a school psychologist and mental health counselor. Both positions have given me opportunities to approach concerns with understanding and training from complimentary areas,” she explained. She considers her graduate educational experience at BYU as her link to involvement in important research projects on positive behavior support. These projects have been central in shaping her approach to helping students, school staff, and parents.
Wesson’s approach to helping others is based on four main strategies: (1) creating a supportive environment through sincere praise, (2) mentoring with kindness, (3) engaging in collaborative problem solving, and (4) emphasizing individualized skill development. “These approaches are not only research-validated strategies but also powerful ways of connecting with the personal strength found in others,” she said.
Wesson finished her thoughts with a statement about the influence of educators. “Educators shape attitudes for future generations,” she expressed. “As families face increasing challenges, we have a unique opportunity to provide effective strategies and encouragement to help build stronger futures for children and their parents.”
Brenda is married to Karl Wesson and they have five children. She currently works as a school psychologist in the Nebo District and as a licensed clinical mental health counselor in Springville, Utah.