Saturday, August 19, 2017

Malcolm Mitchell: A Hero to Me

Malcolm Mitchell may not be a household name, especially if you are not a die-hard football fan. But this young man holds hero status in my book. Malcolm Mitchell is not my hero because he’s a former Georgia Bulldog. (I went to Georgia State & University of North Georgia.) Malcolm Mitchell is not my hero because he played for the Super Bowl 51-champion New England Patriots. (I was pulling for the Atlanta Falcons.) Malcolm Mitchell is my hero because he is a reader…and not ashamed to admit it. When Mitchell began his freshman year at the University of Georgia, the star wide-receiver was only reading at a junior high level. It was not something he was proud of, so he decided to do something about it. He began reading. In a September 2014 interview with CBS journalist Steve Hartman, Mitchell opens up about a time when he was once called a nerd because of his new love for reading. When asked by Hartman how he felt about that label, Malcolm replied, “I was proud of it. It’s like a badge of honor for me knowing where I came from.” In that same interview, Hartman asked Mitchell about his proudest accomplishment to date. One would expect a star athlete to reply with a story about a game-winning play or pivotal turn-over. Not Mitchell. The feat he is most proud of is reading the Hunger Games series in two days. When questioned by Hartman about why scoring touchdowns was not his proudest accomplishment, Malcolm replied, “That came natural. That’s a gift. I had to work to read.” Mitchell has gone on to write a children’s book of his own and created the Share the Magic Foundation--a program whose mission is to improve literacy among children and get books into the hands of children in Title 1 schools.

Each year I share Mitchell's story with my students. I want them to see and hear this man's heart for reading and how hard he worked for it. I hope he inspires my students as much as he inspires me.

Malcolm Mitchell is my hero.

Watch the interview with Steve Hartman and Malcolm Mitchell.