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NASP Communiqué, Vol. 34, #2

Spotlight on Multicultural Affairs

Edited by Terry Bontrager,
NASP Multicultural Affairs Work Committee

The Multicultural Affairs Committee is dedicated to introducing the field of School Psychology to individuals from diverse backgrounds. It also focuses on recruitment of minority school psychologists into the profession and to NASP. State Minority Ambassadors work in 19 states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. At the annual committee meeting in Atlanta last April, representatives discussed presentations to high school and college students in the last year. In so doing they reached more than 200 students, nearly 120 of whom were minorities.

Robin Satchell (Chair) and Tonika Green (Co-Chair) lead the Multicultural Affairs Committee. The Minority Scholarship is the best known committee program, awarding $5000 scholarships each year to three students in School Psychology programs nationwide. Last year’s recipients were Renate Ward-Corrigan, Sang-Hee Kim and Eileen M. Rodriguez. Students interested in applying for the scholarship are referred to the announcement about applications in the September issue and the reminder on page 40. (Also, interested students can contact Deborah Crockett at preznasp@bellsouth.net, the NASP office, or the NASP website.)

Throughout the year, this space will spotlight both individuals and training programs that promote multicultural sensitivity in School Psychology practice. If you wish to nominate a person or a training program for attention, please contact Terry Bontrager at terry.bontrager@umb.edu. For this issue, we are spotlighting Chair Robin Satchell.

What training or other preparation did you have for your work as a school psychologist?

Robin: I earned a bachelors degree in psychology from Virginia State College (now University) and a masters degree in counseling psychology from Loyola College in Baltimore, MD. I did additional course work in school psychology at Loyola College and Towson University toward national certification.  I became a Nationally Certified School Psychologist in 1988.

Where do you work at present? Tell us about your work history.

Robin: I began my career working as a school psychologist for the Baltimore City Public Schools in the Gifted and Talented Program.  Three years later I moved to special education where I performed in the traditional role of a school psychologist. 

Since 1990 I have worked for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, a suburban/rural county that includes Annapolis, Maryland.  I am currently assigned to three elementary schools, one of which has an ED program.  My caseload includes approximately 900 children.  Throughout my career I have always worked for a school system that has a large school psychology staff. As a result I have always had other colleagues available for support and consultation.

What professional leadership positions have you held?

Robin: I was the Treasurer and Vice President of the Baltimore City School Psychology Association during my ten years there. I am a past Secretary and President of the Maryland School Psychologists Association (MSPA).  I am currently the Chair of the Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) of MSPA. I helped establish MSPA’s minority scholarship.  I also developed MSPA’s Bilingual Directory and presently serve as President of the Anne Arundel County Association of School Psychologists.

In 1992 I became a member of NASP’s Certification Board.  Next, I was selected for the Government Professional Relations Committee. In 1995 I was appointed as the Chair of NASP’s Multicultural Affairs Committee.  During that term I spearheaded the development of NASP’s first Bilingual School Psychology Directory.  With the goverance change in 1997, I was appointed Program Manager for Advocacy and was re-appointed to that position two years later.   I have received three NASP Presidential Awards.

Through NASP, I have been interviewed for public television, radio and magazines on various topics from bullying, preparing children for school, etc.  I have done presentations for the state’s PTA association on Special Education issues.

Who do you look up to as your role model, your inspiration for doing your best as a Multicultural School Psychologist?

Robin: My own life and work experience are my role models for being the best culturally aware school psychologist.  There are some leaders in our field—specifically, Deborah Crockett, Leslie Munson, Emilia Lopez and Doris Paez—who are definitely moving in the right direction, but generally this awareness makes most school psychologists uncomfortable and most just give some lip service to it.

Please discuss your philosophy of education and delivery of services as a School Psychologist. What is your vision of the role and functioning of the effective Multicultural School Psychologist?

Robin: I see school psychology as a way of helping parents and children view the school as a positive and proactive force.  I feel that parents are seeking help, and school psychologists should be viewed as one of the main avenues of obtaining this help in a way that is effective and is not condescending.  I really don’t like situations where parents are not fully informed about their child’s issues because of concerns that the parent might become upset or because someone believes the parent won’t understand.

I feel that the demographics of  NASP as an organization are looking less and less like the children and families that the school psychologists serve.  Multicultural issues will continue to be on the front burner for NASP, and NASP needs to be in front of it instead of reacting to it as issues arise.  With high stakes testing becoming more and more prominent in public schools as they attempt to address better compliance to No Child Left Behind, I worry about how less able children will be treated.  The pendulum appears to be swinging back to more of a “fish or cut bait” mentality.  As the children in the public schools become more and more non-Caucasian, I feel that the current policy of proving effectiveness by test scores alone is missing some very big potholes. 

Philosophically I feel that we in public education have not made our peace with the basic fact that all children are not equal when it comes to learning.  To me the greatest outcome is not determined by whether a child is accepted in a college in 12 years of school.  Success for me is whether a child can read and perform basic mathematics in 12 years or more.  Probably the best way that school psychologists can help accomplish this feat is by not giving in to the public pressure and state and re-state that there are some children who require different teaching styles, and longer learning curves.  These differences do not necessarily require special education, but a broadening of the general curriculum.  This will also require emphasizing the fact that test scores do not usually define a childs’ learning very well.  This is obviously not a popular concept or one that is currently being promoted nationwide by the current Secretary of Education, yet it is one that must be said.

© 2005, National Association of School Psychologists.