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Bound for San Sebastian with His Guitar on His Knee

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Brendan Mitchell

Student Profiles: The Convocation Speakers

Brendan Mitchell
Bound for San Sebastian with His Guitar on His Knee
“Have guitar, will travel. Can teach hip-hop fiction; knows middle school classrooms.”
All right, that’s not the precise wording on his resume, but after talking to soft-spoken Brendon Mitchell, you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it was. There is a sense of the wanderer about Mitchell, and a touch of the poet as well.
Born in Alton, New Hampshire, Mitchell has gone where the wind has taken him: to college at Villanova in Philadelphia, where he studied English education; to San Francisco, where he taught seventh and eighth graders for some years; then to New York City and Teachers College to earn his M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching.
Mitchell cites Professor Nancy Lesko as a major influence for him at TC, “not only in the way she conducts a class, but also in her ability to meld research with practice.” He followed Lesko’s example, continuing to teach middle school full time while earning his degree and also conducting an action research project on confronting homophobia at the middle school level.
“It took me a bit longer to finish my degree, but it provided immediate feedback to the work I was completing,” he says of his classroom work. “So I wouldn’t have changed any element of it.”
Meanwhile, Mitchell also has begun writing and performing children’s educational songs, a career he hopes to pursue a little bit further down the road. And speaking of the road: it’s calling—now. In August, Mitchell will head off to teach and serve as an educational consultant in San Sebastian, Spain. He plans to return to the States in a few years, but you get the sense that it could be longer if something else beckons. Still, even with seemingly little more than his guitar on his back, Mitchell is bringing a lot with him.
“Part of coming to TC was the opportunity to surround myself with professors and classmates who wanted to make authentic changes to the face of education,” he says. “All of them were challenging, helpful and inspiring.”
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