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Mitchell takes over at St. James High

REBECCA BURK ELLIS / L’Observateur / August 14, 1998

ST. JAMES – As the new principal of St. James High School, RidgelyMitchell plans to focus on three things – community, academics and faculty.

First of all, he wants to establish a connection between the high school and the community through a steering committee made up of teachers, administrators, students, community members and leaders and business and industry members and leaders.

He thinks the committee will improve the misconception the community has of the high school. “It’s a bitter taste,” he said. “I need to mend thosebridges and get their support because without the support of the community we’re doomed.

“The community as a whole doesn’t have much confidence in St. JamesHigh at this point,” Mitchell added. “I’m hoping the steering committeewill be the major step. The community needs to know that we are not hereto abuse them but to educate them and help them become successful and prosperous.”He also wants to get a stable faculty that has 100 percent certification.

“We lose about 15 teachers a year,” Mitchell said. “It just seems that St.James High has had that problem for a few years.”Out of the 40 teachers at St. James High for this year, Mitchell said that amere three are not certified. “It’s far better than last year,” he said.”Seven or eight teachers weren’t certified. And the three that are herenow are working on their certification. Either they get certification or Iwill be seeking employment for people certified in those areas.”Another thing Mitchell plans to do is improve academics. “It’s always beena big concern of mine,” he said. “St. James High is pretty well-knownnationwide as far as football is concerned. I want to establish anacademic program here that will draw students to come here as athletics does.

Mitchell graduated from Southern University in the early 70’s. After thathe got his first teaching job in St. John the Baptist Parish at Edgard HighSchool, teaching English. He taught there for two years before moving toEast St. John for a year.Then he left the parish and went to teach in Jefferson Parish, where he taught junior high for 12 years.

After 12 years in Jefferson Parish, Mitchell came to St. James Parish toteach. He taught high school at St. James High for two years before beingpromoted to principal at Fifth Ward Elementary for a year. After a year atFifth Ward he got the position as principal at St. James High and is excitedabout the year to begin and hopes to teach the students that self- motivation is the key to success. “We want the students to realize thatwe can’t really make them do anything,” he said. “They have to be self-driven. That’s with discipline and that needs to come from within.”