Meet the Teacher: Kate Gamwell


Charlie Moore

Kate Gamwell, School Psychologist

Where are you from?

I’m from Brookline MA, [I left for a while], and now I’m back in Brookline.

Where did you go to school/What is your experience?

I went for my undergraduate degree at UMass Amherst and then I went to graduate school at Tufts University. I actually worked at the Lynnfield Middle School for ten years. I worked with a ton of students there. I had grades five through eight. As a psychologist, we did a lot of testing. I ran social groups, organization groups and I did counseling with students. I ran a lot of meetings and did consultations with the teachers. I also went to the classroom a lot to do social media presentations.

What made you want to be a school psychologist?

I was at UMass and it was my sophomore year. I was sitting in a psychology class and I decided it was what I wanted to major in. I love it. I think it’s so interesting. I think it’s really fascinating. From there I decided there were so many ways you could go with psychology. I wanted to work in a school so I could be with kids in a school system and be within a school setting. I just went from there, graduated and applied to graduate school.

Have you always wanted to work with kids?

I always wanted to work with students, I just didn’t know in what capacity. That psychology class was really the moment of ‘poof, this is what I want to do.’

What brought you to WHS?

Wayland has an amazing reputation as far as the school system goes. There’s a lot of support for the school system between staff, administration and parents. It just has such a great reputation for being a strong school system and that’s something I want to be a part of. I wanted to be part of a school system that has high expectations for the students and the staff. I wanted to go to a high school because I found that it’s just a completely different environment than middle and elementary school, and I thought that would be really interesting and fun. I think [Wayland] is a great town.

What is your role within the school?

[I do] a lot of testing for special education. I also have a background in counseling in groups so there is that option, and being available for counseling if it’s just a quick check-in, or something more. I’m a resource for consulting with teachers if they have any questions, or if they need any support with things within the classroom. I’m really just all around available.

What are some differences between high school and middle school kids?

At the middle school, I think developmentally, [kids] are still figuring out how to show their feelings or emotions, whereas at the high school level students are much more developmentally able to have their conversations. I think at the high school there’s more independence, students are able to take what they’re learning in counseling and actually do something with that. Whereas at the middle school level there’s a little more coaching and kids need a little more help with that.

Do you plan to go into classrooms and interact like you did at the last school you worked at?

I do, I will pop into classrooms anyway – I like to see what’s going on and what the students are learning. I like to see the classroom set-up and how things run. Eventually, I’d like to go in and do some mindfulness exercises or something around test-taking during midterms or at the end of the year. But that’s definitely on my radar.

Are there any changes you want to make to the guidance/psychology department or the WHS community as a whole?

I think I need to get through my first year, but everything seems to be running smoothly right now, and seems to work quite well. My goal this year is to collaborate with everybody, and to bring my experience working with students and the staff to make it a positive year.

Are you going to work with everyone- including the students who don’t seek out your help or don’t particularly need it?

My goals are really to be seen within the school so people know who Mrs. Gamwell is—that she is the school psychologist, who she is within the school, and to know that she has an office within the school building. I know the guidance department is really great too, and they work with a lot of students–again, collaborating with them to see if there are students I would need to see as well as those they’re seeing. I want the whole school to know there’s a resource within the building, another adult within the building that’s available for help or support. And yes, for people to know who I am, and to know what the role of the school psychologist is within the building. Hopefully, by going into classrooms, walking around, and being seen, kids will start to see that a little more, and it won’t be a mystery as much.

What message do you want to convey to WHS students?

I think it’s so exciting when you’re a student at a high school level. The next step obviously after the four years is either going to college or the working world, and right now in these four years there’s so much that can be done. Whether it’s joining a club, being part of a sports team, or doing some volunteer work within the community, getting involved in school stuff–there’s so much opportunity, and sometimes you do need someone to check in with for some guidance. I think the staff here seems wonderful, I know there are a lot of people students can touch base with, and I’m another person within the building that can be a support staff; if anyone has any questions or needs some guidance with things, I’m here.