Jim Persinger’s Personal Info Page

From the time I first arrived at ESU until 2016, I was primarily responsible for the School Psychology Program.  Now I’m chair of the Department of Psychology, so am in a bit of a transition period as I try to figure out my new role.  Here are a few professional and personal things to let you know me a bit.

I earned a B.A. and an M.S. at Emporia State University in ’88 and ‘90, and then studied at the University of Kansas (M.S., Ed.S., Ph.D.) while working in education for about nine years.  I primarily worked as a school psychologist after earning an Ed.S. in 1992, but throughout my career have concurrently had roles of preschool coordinator, program evaluator, and briefly, a teacher for students with autism.

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First day of my school psychology internship, 1992.

I completed my Ph.D. in 1999, serendipitously at the same time a position opened in ESU’s Department of Psychology and Special Education (as it was called at the time), and started as an Assistant Professor in 2000.


First week as a professor, 2000.

I have been Director of the School Psychology Program since 2002, and still hold that position concurrently with Department Chair obligations.  For most of my career at ESU, I have taught courses across the Secondary Education, Adaptive Education, Educational Leadership, Clinical Psychology, and School Psychology programs.  Most of my teaching duties primarily involve school psychologists, and I teach intelligence assessment to clinical psychology candidates as well.

Wechsler Lab, fall 2014.

I was promoted from Associate to Professor in spring 2012.  In 2015 I was named a Roe. R. Cross Distinguished Professor, the highest honor afforded to faculty at Emporia State University.



Roe. R. Cross Announcement April 2015 with President Schonrock, my father Jim Sr., family and colleagues surprised me there.


As part of this I had the great, but nerve-wracking honor of giving the address at the spring 2016 commencement.  As I jokingly told President Garrett afterward, I had bet Provost Cordle that I could use the word “roach” at least four times and get away with it.  Nailed it!  You could click here then skip exactly 32 minutes in to watch the address if you wished.

My wife Keely and I met as students at the University of Kansas, and have been married since 1994.  She’s been a school psychologist in Abilene, Junction City, Manhattan, Flint Hills Coop (Emporia), and Eureka.  She ultimately switched hats, and for a dozen years has now been Director of ESU’s Center for Early Childhood Education.  Our daughter Emma is in high school, and son Aaron will soon move on to middle school.

I love the field of school psychology, but also have a few outside interests.  My main passion, as you can probably infer from the garage shirts I often wear on campus, is long-distance motorcycle touring, usually with camping gear strapped to the back.  I’ve continuously owned a motorcycle of some sort since I was eight years old.  My current bike is a Harley Davidson Road King Classic, five years old and has 65k on it, so I do really well, working my way through a bucket list of U.S. roads to ride and wonders to see while I’m healthy enough to pull it off.

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Heading to the top of Colorado’s Pike’s Peak Summer 2011.  The view’s prettier without me in the picture.

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Arizona’s Petrified Forest, Spring 2012


White Sands Missile Testing site in Arizona 2012


Cross Monument Valley, Utah off the bucket list, May 2013.  It was 17 degrees when I headed out the next morning:  Thanks heated gear!


Badlands National Park, South Dakota Summer 2013… Spectacular.  Hot!


June 2013:  Riding Custer State Park and Needles highway there is even more thrilling than the monument.


Approaching Devil’s Tower National Park, Wyoming 2013.  Mr. Happy joined me for that trip.


Going over the Bighorn Mountains, June, 2013:  As pretty as anything in Colorado, but zero traffic.  One of the best rides of my life.


What’s been labeled the Most Beautiful Road in America, Beartooth Highway, Wyoming.  The difficult route into Yellowstone they advise motorists to avoid.  Late June 2013, and it just opened two weeks earlier due to snow and hazardous roads.  Sweet!


Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, leaving Yellowstone.  June 2013.

J.D. Rockefeller Parkway.  90 minutes of unending views like this.

This particular NW ride in 2013 ended with an Iron Butt run from Cody Wyoming (near where the above pic was taken) at the entrance to Yellowstone to Emporia, 1050 miles, in one exhausting day.  Later that year I did a run from a campsite on the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park to home (960 miles, technically not a SaddleSore 1000 day but darn close).  Love it!


Last long ride of 2013, in September:  Going over Monarch Pass, Colorado as snowstorm moves in.

My idea of a perfect vacation is a three-day ride through the Ozarks at breakneck speeds, scraping floorboards along the way, or a week hitting every scenic drive in New Mexico or Colorado.  I’ve done each at least once each year since 2010.



The only camper in sight along the Guadalupe River in Kerrville TX May 2014.  I love west Texas for the Twisted Sisters (though the video at that site shows somebody riding the hill country considerably slower than I do).  Those roads are like a person with infinite wealth asked a roller-coaster designer to build the world’s best private motorcycle roads.


Big Bend National Park:  One of the least visited National Parks in the country, May 2014.  You can get there from Emporia in one day if you have an Iron Butt.



Each road of the Twisted Sisters has an entrance with a sign like this.  Paradoxically, this is always exciting to see, it means there will be an epic ride.

Now my bike is gathering dust.  I was on foot in a crosswalk leaving campus in December 2015 when a distracted driver in a truck ran into me going between 15-20 miles an hour.  The police report indicated I was thrown 38 feet from where I started.  You can dig through Google or old copies of the Bulletin for details, but I spent three months in physical therapy getting functional enough to walk pretty well, and didn’t return to work until April, and then only part time as I have a lingering brain injury.  It permanently damaged my vestibular system on the left side, leaving me unable to drive a car at present.  I’m told I may be able to get that back, but my floorboard-scraping days may be past.  Time to find a new bucket list that doesn’t involve having a sense of balance.  I’d whine but hey, I’m walking without a cane, my right hand sorta mostly works again, and most of my IQ has come back.  You gotta run with what you got!

My many professional affiliations are in my vita.  I approaching nearly 20 consecutive years of service to KASP on its executive board.  I served as 2008 President of the Kansas Association of School Psychologists, and organized the most heavily-attended KASP conference ever.  My most prominent professional service activities at present involve serving as KASP webmaster since 2006, trying to create a statewide network of PREPaRE-certified crisis prevention/intervention professionals in order to create a Kansas response team, and with ESU emerita Sharon Karr taking the lead, are trying to help get the NCSP parity bill passed in Kansas.  In addressing the crisis intervention piece, I was the first PREPaRE certified trainer in Kansas and have helped train around eight dozen individuals so far in crisis response:  there are several on the KASP board with this training, and together we intend to keep offering this throughout Kansas.  I’m also a certified Safe Space trainer and in 2014-16 am helping GLSEN-KC offer those trainings throughout the state.

My research interests are diverse:

·          I am working to pilot a sociometric approach for use with Tier 1 of RTI:  a quick snapshop of a classroom, done in two minutes, which can with validity and reliability ascertain which children are likely to have increasingly social and emotional problems barring intervention.  I have presented on the topic at national conferences and will continue this line of research for several more years.  The Wichita schools have now adopted this approach.

·          I am a huge advocate for school-based mental health services and particularly for population-based services (i.e., an emphasis on prevention).  An example of a paper I published on this topic is here.  I have another one on supporting LGBT families that was the feature story in the Communique’.

·          Mindfulness for children is a big interest of mine, and something I’ve done workshops on at conferences in recent years.  I hope to run some local groups and gain some measure of mindfulness training as “inoculation” against the stresses of childhood.  You’ll see some great resources I put together for a workshop, featured at the bottom of this page (link may be down for a while as that site is overhauled – email me if you want them!)

·          Long ago I researched theory and technique in use of role-playing games as social skills intervention with socially maladjusted and seriously emotionally disturbed juveniles, adult international students adjusting to campus-life, and gifted students of all ages.

·          In the heyday of the full inclusion movement, I extensively studied and have published on Kansas teachers’ definitions of inclusive education.  Practicing classroom teachers have somewhat different takes on inclusion, and actually operate from a very different philosophical and values foundation, than “inclusion experts” do.  You folks who worked in the schools during the 1990s, and experienced the “inclusion for all” push, know what I’m talking about.  Ask me about this topic, and I’ll randomly rant for 30 minutes without taking a breath.

Final picture for your consideration, taken in 2008, shows me with a celebrity!

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If you know who this is (hint:  Sync magazine named him the #1 nerd of all time) you are indeed nerdly.