Mr. McDonald Enters the Stage of Education

Feeling an adrenaline rush, Mr. Mitch McDonald stepped on set as the character First Sgt. Schott for the movie Love in Country. At KMS, he assumed a new role – special education paraprofessional working alongside Ms. Cecil. Maintaining dramatic facial expressions and tone of voice, Mr. McDonald read to excited students who could not look away.

What Mr. McDonald likes best about Kimmons is all the things he’s learned from the students.

“Developing new skills, polishing old ones, working on things you never expected – It all keeps you breathing,” Mr. McDonald said.

Mr. McDonald’s love of people and the wide range of ways people behave inspired him to become a special education paraprofessional. This is also why he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from UAFS.

“I have severe ADHD myself, so working here is a way, first, to remind myself of how difficult things are for many of these kids and, second, to help them see some of the issues they may face later,” Mr. McDonald said.

Back when he was a self-proclaimed “terrible” student himself, this North Carolina native felt fortunate enough to have many good teachers.

“Mrs. Wilson encouraged me to write and pretty much gave me a pass on getting through 6th grade,” Mr. McDonald said. “Mr. Solomon introduced me to Forensics and thinking things through. Mrs. Ittenbach let me bounce my insane ideas off of her way longer than made any sense. Mr. Bryant gave me the room to experiment in Drama class. They were all incredible teachers. There is no way I can thank them enough for helping me to be better than I could have been without them.”

Mr. McDonald knows that what teachers do affects students’ lives.

“We have to do a lot more than offer up information and wait for our students to find a use for it,” Mr. McDonald said. “Special Education is about actively shaping the development of people who are struggling every day with issues others are fortunate enough to never have. That is a lot of responsibility but also a lot of reward.”

A surprising fact about Mr. McDonald is that he loves acting, has written screenplays, and has met cool actors like Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding, Jr, Christopher McDonald.

“I doubt anyone but Mr. Hudson would remember me, but he’s a great conversationalist,” Mr. McDonald said.

Throughout elementary school and into his early 20s, Mr. McDonald acted in six stage plays. Arsenic and Old Lace was his favorite. He also worked as a production assistant for Riot Act, Farmer’s Daughter, Coins, and My Dog Fred.

“I’ve been an extra in several films, including Road Trip and Tuskegee Airmen,” Mr. McDonald said. “My only major role to date is as First Sgt. Schott in Love in Country. For the first three weeks of that five-week production, I was also production manager, security, transportation, and human resources. It made for LONG days, but I learned a lot.”

In addition to acting, Mr. McDonald also writes scripts -– mainly science fantasy and comedy horror.

“I wrote a radio play series for the UAFS campus station -– Other Side of the River, which is an alternative history storyline about Fort Smith history,” Mr. McDonald said. “My favorite short film script is Occupational Hazard, which started as a college assignment. It’s about a socially awkward janitor who traps himself and his co-workers in their office with a hungry alien hatchling. Risen is my favorite feature-length script. It tells the story of two cops searching for a serial killer and a cult chasing their escaped mummy.”

Other than acting and writing, Mr. McDonald enjoys working with stained glass because it is beautiful.

“I also like role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and the Star Citizen MMO because it’s a cheap way to spend time with friends.”