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Brandon Gamble: Training Future Difference Makers

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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.

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									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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