Sunnycrest Elementary’s ‘Professor Michael’ named WA school psychologist of year

Michael Self-Bence - Courtesy photo
Michael Self-Bence
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools:

Michael Self-Bence, a school psychologist at Sunnycrest Elementary School, was named School Psychologist of the Year at the Annual Washington State School Psychologist Association Conference on Oct. 12.

The award is the highest possible honor bestowed on a school psychologist in Washington.

Self-Bence has been a psychologist in Federal Way for 11 years, and is a leader at both the school and district levels. He was nominated by the district school psychologist team and his supervisor, Chris Willis, director of secondary special education. Self-Bence’s colleagues in Federal Way fondly refer to him as Professor Michael, due to his extensive knowledge of the latest research.

For the past several years, Self-Bence has served on the district’s Special Learning Disability Investigation Team, where his expertise has led to a new process for evaluating candidates for special education within the district. Self-Bence’s advocacy and leadership has also led to improved professional development for all school psychologists within the district.

“Self-Bence has a wonderful balance of intelligence and command of his field, combined with the qualities of kindness, respectfulness and compassion toward both children and parents,” said Sunnycrest speech-language pathologist Christine Simonitch.

Self-Bence thanked his colleagues, family, and friends for sharing the honor with him.

“I am so deeply touched to have been recognized with this highest honor,” he said. “To have been nominated by the finest group of world-class colleagues makes this honor even more significant to me.”

“I feel so fortunate to have landed here in Federal Way where my ingenuity and talents have been encouraged,” Self-Bence said. “I am absolutely proud and honored to serve children and families in the Federal Way Public Schools, where we value integrity — ‘the light that guides our way,’ where we are deeply committed to all children being successful learners, citizens, and people, and where colleagues at all levels support individual and collective growth in professional learning communities, as we continually strive to become evermore effective in our important mission.”


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