Dr. Heidi Ries, Dean for Research at the Air Force Institute of Technology (formerly Heidi Mitchell), remembers her parents, Dan and Mildred Mitchell of Prospect, mentoring would-be teachers during their long careers in three local school districts. Graduates of the former Johnsville High School in Morrow County, Dan Mitchell taught music and was a band director at Elgin, Pleasant and Centerburg schools. His wife, Mildred, taught kindergarten in Prospect for 35 years.
To honor her parents, who died in 2014 and 2015, Dr. Ries is establishing an endowed scholarship at the Ohio State University at Marion to benefit prospective teachers. She remembers the influence her parents had on future educators. “Both of them, during their teaching careers, worked to mentor student teachers. Many people have mentioned to me how influential they were in helping with their teaching careers. It occurred to me that it would be nice to find a way to continue that influence on developing new teachers—so I’m very excited about an opportunity to continue that.”
Once endowed at the $50,000 level, the fund will deliver approximately $2,250 per year, in perpetuity, to benefit student teachers during their field experiences. Recipients will be recommended by the education faculty and student teacher supervisors at Ohio State Marion. “This scholarship will be very important to the recipients and our program,” said Dr. Linda Parsons, Associate Professor of Middle Childhood Literacy. “Student teachers are required to do a lot of field work and are often balancing outside jobs, family, and academics. This scholarship will help them bridge the gap.”
Dan Mitchell received his Master’s in Music Education from The Ohio State University. He went on to teach music in Green Camp and Prospect and was the long-time band director at Pleasant High School. He also led the Centerburg High School band for five years. His daughter remembers his commitment to broadening his students’ perspectives through travel.
“I remember one of the things that he particularly enjoyed doing was taking his high school bands and choirs, both from Pleasant and Centerburg, on trips to Washington, DC and New York City because he felt it was so important that the students have those experiences of getting outside the county or the state of Ohio. He thought it was really important to use music to give people that broader life experience,” said Dr. Ries.