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    Tuesday, February 27, 2024

    Fitch library dedicated in honor of former Superintendent James Mitchell

    James Mitchell, former superintendent of the Groton Public Schools, speaks to attendees as the library at Fitch High School in Groton is named in his honor on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    James Mitchell, former superintendent of the Groton Public Schools, is greeted by current Superintendent Susan Austin as the library at Fitch High School in Groton is named in his honor on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    James Mitchell, former superintendent of the Groton Public Schools, laughs as a speaker shares a story as the library at Fitch High School in Groton is named in his honor on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    James Mitchell, former superintendent of the Groton Public Schools, greets friend Karen Walters as the library at Fitch High School in Groton is named in his honor on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Groton ― When James Mitchell first moved to Connecticut from Texas, he found solace and refuge in the library in New London.

    Then, while working in the Groton Public School district, he encouraged students to read at all times.

    “If you don’t know what to do, just read, and you will get through it and you will move to a higher level,” Mitchell said.

    More than 30 friends, supporters, and family members gathered Monday for the dedication ceremony of the Robert E. Fitch High School Dr. James E. Mitchell Library Media Center in his honor. He also was recognized with a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly.

    Mitchell served as Groton superintendent from 2001 and 2008 and overall worked for 38 years for the district. He is the chairman of the Lawrence + Memorial Hospital board and a trustee and former president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund. His two children are graduates of Fitch and his wife, Marguerite, served 35 years with Groton Public Schools.

    Carmita Hodge, an assistant principal at Fitch, called Mitchell “selfless and an agent of change who believes that extending a caring hand while serving his community makes a better community for all.”

    Earl J. Wilson Sr., president of the National Baptist Deacons Convention of America Inc. and senior deacon at Shiloh New London, said Mitchell has integrity and is always the first to raise his hand when it comes to giving.

    Words of praise for Mitchell from people who could not attend the ceremony were also read.

    “Jim listened to all, while always putting students first,” wrote Board of Education member Beverly Washington while Board of Education Vice Chair Andrea Ackerman added, he has “an innate gift of grit and graciousness so rare to find in combination.” And board member Rita Volkmann said it could not be more appropriate to dedicate the library to him because of his passionate commitment to the education of students in Groton.

    Groton Board of Education Chair Kim Shepardson Watson, who was in attendance, said the world is a better place because of Mitchell and the message is “how can we all be a little bit like Jim.”

    Superintendent Susan Austin and former superintendent Michael Graner said Mitchell’s legacy includes a major renovation of Fitch High School and the building of Northeast Academy and Catherine Kolnaski elementary schools.

    Austin said Mitchell and Graner set the stage to ensure all schools within the district are racially and socio-economically balanced.

    Mitchell called the school district his “second home and family.” He said he loves the school system and will continue to do everything he can to support the district.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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