Catching Up With Advisory Team Member Erin Hoganson, M.A., LEP
BlazerWorks’ Special Education Clinical Advisory Team offers crucial support and guidance to educators, school districts, and special education departments. BlazerWorks Advisory Services help schools find and retain specific, hard-to-fill special education professionals. The team works with school districts throughout the United States and visits schools frequently. As of June 2023, the team has already visited more than 200 school districts and has conducted more than 150 virtual meetings.
Erin Hoganson, M.A., LEP is a licensed school psychologist and a member of the BlazerWorks Special Education Clinical Advisory Team. Before she joined BlazerWorks, Erin worked in various school-based roles—including as a paraprofessional, special education teacher and school psychologist—giving her a range of experiences to draw from in her advisory team role.
During her tenure in California schools, Erin witnessed high levels of educator burnout and staff turnover, leading to staff shortages. Since then, school psychologist staffing shortages have increased nationwide. While the National Association of School Psychologists 2020 Professional Standards recommended a ratio of 500 students to 1 school psychologist, during the 2021-2022 school year the ratio was 1,127 to 1.
“When I was applying for jobs as a school psychologist in 2008, I was told by a special education director in Southern California that there were 45 people applying for one job,” Erin says. “We need to think about how we are going to help school districts shift their thinking. It’s been great to see directors making that shift and understand how we can work together with them.”
Erin’s desire to help education professionals and ultimately their students led her to join BlazerWorks in the fall of 2022. As a BlazerWorks Special Education Clinical Advisor, she supports special education professionals placed in schools, she serves as a mentor and resource to them throughout their contracts. Erin also helps school leadership navigate operational and personnel issues and customizes diverse professional development opportunities.
“I’ve seen all angles of a school district and viewed this as a different way to support kids and the educators who support them,” she says. “I also like serving as a neutral person who can be a liaison between the school professional and school leadership.”
Advisors Partner With Districts—Before and After the Hire—to Meet School Challenges
No school day is exactly the same for an educator, nor is Erin’s day at BlazerWorks. However, whether she is training internal team members, mentoring an educator or helping a district plan professional development, she always ensures stakeholders have the tools they need.
Erin works closely with BlazerWorks team members and partners to help them understand the challenges districts face and what to look for when hiring school professionals. Her unique insights allow BlazerWorks staffing partners to source professionals that result in strong hires and successful fits.
“We make sure our staffing agency partners know to ask questions like, ‘Are you open to dealing with student behaviors?’” Erin says. “It’s eye-opening to people that there are kids out there who are really aggressive, and you could walk into a school and be dealing with aggression.”
In the schools, Erin offers guidance to special education professionals entering the profession. Giving contract school professionals who work with BlazerWorks’ staffing partners the ability to lean on an advisor for support helps them build confidence, particularly if they do not yet have the same connections with district staff as their permanent colleagues do.
“I’ve gotten some really kind feedback from a contract school professional who said they felt like they would have quit the assignment had we not been there to support them,” Erin says.
Drawing upon her years of conflict resolution experience, Erin particularly enjoys helping teams work together more smoothly and effectively. Current staffing shortages and tight budgets require schools to be creative but still meet student needs. Because of the pandemic, staff members require extra emotional support. Erin serves as a neutral sounding board for both contracted staff and school leaders and can often identify gaps in training before they emerge.
“We make sure contract school professionals get the right support from the minute we identify there might be a problem—whether it’s related to time management or something else,” Erin says. “There are a lot of new grads who started their careers during the pandemic who didn’t have the same experience in graduate school that more seasoned school professionals had. People who are newer to practicing in schools really need a lot of support right now.”
At the same time, Erin partners with districts to find operational solutions. For example, tight budgets often require districts to make tough hiring decisions. In one instance, if a district doesn’t have the funding to hire two speech-language pathologists, they might need to look at hiring one SLP and one SLP assistant instead.
“We’re able to offer creative solutions and think outside the box because we have a macro view and can provide ideas from a different perspective,” she says.
Providing Layered Support That Strengthens Districts
In partnership with BlazerWorks, schools gain what Erin calls a “super support team,” that gives them newfound energy and confidence. They are excited to work with third-party education experts who can mentor their staff and uncover instructional or personnel needs. Their placed professionals feel listened to. And leaders are seeing professional consistency across their schools.
“We’re trying to figure out the right fit for not only the school professional, but for the student and the school, and ultimately, the kids benefit,” Erin says. “If we’re doing what’s right for kids, the rest is going to fall in line”
Learn more about how our clinical expertise and support services can help your school or district overcome today’s staffing challenges.