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York College graduate’s background helped prepare him for role as school psychologist

Ronald Mitchell spotlight

Ronald Mitchell is a school psychologist. Part of his job is to understand kids’ learning challenges and the reasons behind them. “Identifying those challenges early,” he says, “can lead students to achieve better results.”

Ronald majored in Psychology and graduated in 2016 from York College of Pennsylvania. Today, he works at Hannah Penn, a K-8 grade school in the York City School District.

There are a lot of cultural situations students in his district confront, he says. His degree helps him understand them. “We see more transiency—students moving in and out of the district—and maybe a lack of parental involvement,” he says. “There are also often language barriers with many Spanish-speaking students.”

Beyond this are what Ronald calls cultural disconnects. “In some African-American and Hispanic cultures, people are often loud and direct in communicating with a teacher,” he says. “The teacher may see this as disrespect, but it’s sometimes just a way of students communicating.”

Ronald hopes to hold professional development sessions with staff to help them understand these types of issues and how they can work with these students in a positive manner.

Combining Psychology and Biology

While at York College, Ronald also earned a minor in Biology. While Psychology and Biology may seem disparate, he says, the combination is important in helping children.

“Many psychological disabilities in children have biological bases,” Ronald says. “Depression and anxiety can have biological bases through brain development, such as trauma early in life, and this affects how neurological chemicals are secreted throughout the body and can influence a child’s behavior.”

Biopsychology courses he took helped him understand these concepts, which helps him today as a professional. “I can talk about these issues with families and explain them well,” he says. He also counsels teenagers, and his Biology background helps him understand why they may be feeling a certain way.

Foundation laid at York College

Ronald believes his classes at York College prepared him well for both graduate school and for his career. He also credits opportunities outside of the classroom for his solid foundation.

“I was a student senator, an RA, and a student ambassador giving campus tours,” he remembers. “These activities gave me interpersonal skills and taught me to articulate ideas and relate to other people.”

Ronald feels these activities helped him succeed later in life, he says, from forming relationships to building trust. Most of all, he says, “I learned how to meet people and understand them.”