VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 2 CATEGORY: Social Sciences POSTED ON: 6/13/2010
In addition to meeting the needs of high school students as a school psychologist in the Long Beach Unified School District, Brandon has taken on diverse duties that range from coach of numerous sports teams to serving as a member of the Long Beach Police Department Chief's Mental Health Advisory Board.
A Difference Maker on Behalf of Children Meth Abuse [ continued from page 1 ] Brandon Gamble: Training school social worker, and instructional coach at a downtown elementary school; a Future Diﬀerence Makers school safety services specialist; and a recently retired elementary teacher with 33 years experience. Community-based respondents included three therapists, clinical BY DEDE BAILER director of a drug and alcohol treatment program, and two law enforcement oﬃcers hen Brandon Gamble was nominated for School Psychologist of the Year in the narcotics division of a local police department. W by the California Association of School Psychologists, it was quickly ap- parent that he was someone who was making a diﬀerence for students, staﬀ, and families. In addition to meeting the needs of high school students as a school BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT Methamphetamine is a highly addictive, synthetic, central nervous system stimulant psychologist in the Long Beach Uniﬁed School District, Brandon has taken on diverse that often leads to more rapid and pronounced physical deterioration than with other duties that range from coach of numerous sports teams to serving as a member of the drugs. As a neurotoxin, it aﬀects the release and reuptake of dopamine and also dam- Long Beach Police Department Chief’s Mental Health Advisory Board. ages the neural tissue within the brain. Meth is considered by state law enforcement to As a school psychology practitioner, Brandon’s goal was for students to under- be the major drug problem in Kansas (Kansas Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, stand their rights to equity, justice, and quality in education, and he has kept that 2005). It was a serious problem on the west coast before spreading eastward across goal his focus. In addition, building on a mentoring program he developed as a high the country. school practitioner, Brandon designed and implemented a multifaceted program Meth is neither diﬃcult nor expensive to make. The manufacturing process is highly around working with middle school students. One component of the program in- volatile and some of the chemicals are extremely toxic. Six units of dangerous waste volved professional development for teachers, administrators, and counselors on byproducts are produced for each unit of meth. Addicts start home-based labs to cut working eﬀectively with young males. Another part of the program design included their costs and to control the quality of their drugs. Isolated locations are particularly sessions for community members. The 200 to 300 people from the community appealing to cooks needing to avoid detection. Clandestine labs have been operated in who came to a recent meeting on What it Takes for a Young Man to be Successful houses, motel rooms, and vans, as well as old, abandoned rural structures. illustrate the breadth of his inﬂuence. Instructions for making meth are readily available on the Internet. A Google search Brandon is now a professor in the school psychology program at California State on November 6, 2007, produced nine diﬀerent recipes within 15 minutes. The level of University, Long Beach. He has expanded his scope of inﬂuence to include gradu- toxicity of a batch of meth depends on the chemicals used. ate students while maintaining his contact with middle school students through Safety of self and others does not appear to be a priority of cooks. One therapist innovative community-centered programs. Brandon has widened the number of commented that many of his clients have tried to make meth, but they are “not very students who he can reach by providing consultation services to Long Beach Uni- good chemists.” Flash ﬁres and explosions result from cooks’ mistakes. ﬁed School District, coaching school psychologists and helping them reach their Meth has a distinctive smell that is aﬀected by the speciﬁc chemicals used to make potential as they in turn support students in attaining theirs. it. One interviewee described it as a “burnt, sweet smell,” like what you would have if What did it take for Brandon Gamble to be successful? He might answer pas- you “dip a burnt chocolate chip cookie in ammonia and then taste it.” sion: a passion to see great things happen in the lives of students. He is an agent Meth can be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously. Increasingly, meth is cooked of change for students, giving them hope and conﬁdence. Based on what we know into a form called “ice,” which looks like shards of glass. It is then smoked. The increase about Brandon, he is indeed a success, and he is making a diﬀerence. ■ in the use of ice is thought to be because it is more potent and easier to use. Users’ ﬁn- Dede Bailer is Director, Psychology and Prevention Services, Fairfax County Public Schools and gertips may be burnt when they put the last little bits of ice into the hot pipe. NASP delegate from VA. Meth abusers are considered to be among the most diﬃcult drug users to treat. There was a 25% increase in the number of meth users who sought treatment at Kan-
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