Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Looking like a giant among the three-feet-tall first-graders pouring into the bright, sun-filled hallway of Clausell Elementary School, Principal Mitchell Shears steps into the main office where three students await his arrival. "I know it's good," he says, willing their presence to be one of praise instead of punishment. "Oh, it is," one of them replies. No sooner are the words out of his mouth that a kindergarten student is attached to his navy blue pants leg. "Great morning, Mr. Shears," she says, shaking her head and smiling, as the white beads hanging from her braided hair rattle. "Thank you," he tells her.
As Shears leads me down the hallway, explaining that the children have just come from seeing Mr. Smarty Pants, several children wish him a "great" morning. We have to aim higher than a "good" morning, Shears says.
Before he became an educator, Shears, 31, studied communications at Alcorn State University. "I really wanted to do television broadcasting," he says, "but when I got in there and started doing it, I said, ‘I don't really like this,' so I started writing."
Shears did a stint at The Hattiesburg American as an intern, but found that interviewees weren't as forthcoming as he would have preferred. After he graduated in 1999, Shears took a public relations position at Alcorn and began putting out news releases and a newsletter. Shears wanted to take advantage of his affiliation with the school and obtain a higher degree, but knew he didn't want to continue in communication. "I wanted to get out there with people," Shears says.
After perusing the master's degrees that Alcorn offered, Shears decided on elementary education. "I saw how males were needed in schools, especially in elementary," he says.
Shears quickly began wowing administrators with his enthusiasm and dedication to students, and in July 2006, he became principal at Clausell. "I started having fun creating things, and stuck with it," he says. "I don't ever want to leave education."
Shears says that being an educator takes up much of his time, but he is still able to do things he loves. He has been a tenor with the Mississippi Mass Choir since 2001, and he lends his musical talents to the school for its Christmas and Black History Month programs. He's also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Shears' main concern seems to be his "babies." He encourages teachers to seek learning approaches that students can relate to, rewarding good behavior with positive feedback. "As a principal, I can't forget how it was to be a teacher, and teachers can't forget how it was to be a student," he says.
I have know Mr. Shears for a long teme.. He is turly a remarkable young man and I am very proud of him....