Check out the Faculty Five with Nashville native, oldest of four kids, and current fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Mitchell. When he isn’t at St. Paul teaching or leading the Chess Club, you may find him listening to vinyl records and sipping black coffee or taking his three boys to Koko’s Ice Cream on the East side.
How long have you been at St. Paul, how did you get here, and what do you do?
I began my tenth year at St. Paul this year. My plan initially was to teach in public schools. However, a St. Paul parent at the time recommended I apply here instead. Thankfully, I did! I have taught 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade throughout my time here, but am so glad to be teaching math to my 4th graders each day. This will be my fifth-year teaching 4th-grade Math. Students often mistake me for Super Saint; however, I just don’t see the resemblance. I am also the school’s chess sponsor, so I spend my Wednesday afternoons in the C. S. Lewis library with the members of the Chess Club.
What is your favorite Old Testament Bible story and why?
My favorite Old Testament story is Joseph and the multi-colored coat. I love how this little pipsqueak of a brother who was so mistreated by his eleven older brothers continued to trust in the Lord. He had so many hard times in front of him, from getting sold to slave traders to lies being spoken about his character. Despite all these circumstances Joseph, through God’s strength, persevered and continued to serve His purposes until he was trusted enough to essentially rule over Pharaoh’s land. It was in this moment during the famine that the same brothers that sold him into slavery came to their youngest brother, and unknowingly received his grace and forgiveness. I love this story and how it showcases God’s purposeful and unique plan for us.
If you could go to lunch with anyone in history, where would you take him/her in this area and what would the two of you talk about at lunch?
Those closest to me know how much I love music, so choosing someone is incredibly difficult for me. I would go eat at Baja Burrito with one of my favorite singer/songwriters, James Taylor. My very first concert was at Starwood Amphitheater seeing James Taylor, and I’ve seen him several times since. I reminisce often about those summer days in middle school and high school with my boombox and collection of James Taylor CDs. I would love to pick his brain about how he crafts a song since each writer is so unique. He’d obviously need to bring his guitar and play a few tunes after we finish our burritos.
What is one of your favorite St. Paul memories?
One of my favorite memories at St. Paul is when we return from Nature’s Classroom each May. The students are welcomed by eager parents’ open arms. They are so glad to have their precious ones back. The students have grown so much (and are so exhausted) but have had such a blast. They learn so much about nature and God’s unique design. It doesn’t hurt to get to teach with the best 4th-grade team. They make each day worth remembering.
What are you hoping your students take away from St. Paul at the end of the year and why?
I hope my students learn that we all fail. It’s how we recover and try again until we get it right that matters most. Students put so much pressure on themselves and constantly compare themselves to their peers and siblings and wrongly think they aren’t “good” at something based on how well people around them do the same task or subject. We all have different talents and weaknesses. Rather than putting themselves down, I’d love to see my students practice in the areas that they struggle and celebrate their accomplishments when small victories are made.