A volunteer in the quest to put an effective teacher in every classroom
When Vince McCaskill approached William Mitchell about becoming a charter member of the board of the Memphis City Schools Foundation, Mitchell was flattered by the invitation and excited by the possibilities. At the same time, he was reluctant—the foundation was brand new and still forming, with no track record.
Ultimately, though, Mitchell’s deeply rooted love for Memphis and firm belief in the value of education won out and today he’s a committed board member with an unwavering faith in the potential of our school system.
“I come from a family of educators,” he said. “I think I understand the challenges that teachers have. And I believe in education. I know that’s where your thoughts are formed and where your drive is initiated.”
Today, securing the matching funds required for the $90 million gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the Teacher Effective Initiative is a huge part of the foundation’s work.
“I think the grant and TEI enables the administration to look at education from a bird’s-eye perspective,” Mitchell says. “It will be a game-changer for education here in the city of Memphis.”
But the foundation’s purpose goes beyond any one initiative or gift, Mitchell says. It’s about investing in the future of education as a whole in Memphis.
“I’m in the real estate business,” says Mitchell, a Germantown High School graduate, a member of the first graduating class at Shelby State Community College and a realtor for the last 30 years, now working with Crye-Leike. “I have a few houses here and there and I take resources and do a little something here and there to ensure that 10 years from now the property is not falling down. You’ve got to continually feed your assets. And if we’re not looking at the education system of the city as an asset, then we’re being short-sighted in our quest of being a better city.”
Mitchell is a great ambassador for the Memphis, and will tout everything from its rich history to its legacy in civil rights and music to the variety of its neighborhoods to its culture of niceness and respect.
“The thing we really need to work on is our educational system,” he says. “We need to make sure our children are the best educated, the best prepared—and we have to continue to press that mind set. When we do, our children will be able to fully appreciate all these attributes of this great city.
“The key to all of it is addressing it, not ignoring it,” he says. “And now we’re truly addressing it.”
Board of Directors
Kim Wirth, Chairman of the Board
International Paper, Inc.
William Mitchell, Treasurer
Crye Leike Realtors
Memphis Education Association
Evans/Petree Law Firm
Vincent J. McCaskill
Meet other leaders
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