Tuesday, February 24, 2004
As a lad, Adam Mitchell played by himself or read books while his mother worked the night shift. Nothing Dickensian; it was just the simple reality of being a child of a working parent. While Mitchell could have easily become a self-involved, thrift store mannequin like the rest of his generation, he instead developed conscience and responsibility -- he works with kids. Sweet kids, too. They call him... Mr. Adam.
Adam had been working with the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence for more than two years as a group leader when he was promoted to site coordinator for Pinckney School. That position places him in charge of a program that provides before school, after school, and off day activities for 115 children, grades kindergarten through sixth. That's a far cry from what started as a second job, but it's obvious to anyone who hears Adam talk about his work that it's never been "just" a job.
"I think the only worthwhile jobs are in education and child service jobs, whether you're a social worker or a counselor or a teacher," Mitchell says.
Or a companion. Activities at Boys & Girls Club include everything from board games to homework assistance, but Adam stresses that the club is not meant to be a continuation of school, but a place for kids to have fun in a safe environment.
Still, wherever there's competition, things can get ugly.
"I do get pretty competitive at UNO," he says. "Some kid hands me a 'Draw Four,' it's all over."
And whenever there are kids and balls in the same hemisphere... "There have been some America's Funniest Home Videos-type crotch hits."
It's all practice for the day when he begins teaching his own classes. Currently unsure of which grade will be his destination, it was his own junior high experience that started him on the road to teaching.
"I had such a miserable time in junior high school, and I didn't like any of my teachers except for maybe one or two of them," Mitchell says. I knew after that that I wanted to be one of the teachers that kids say, 'I hated that time in my life except this one teacher that I had who was the best part of going to school.'"
So he might end up at a junior high. Or perhaps he'll take the experience he's gotten at Pinckney to the elementary school level. Right now, Adam is just happy making kids happy.
"If a kid feels like they want to come there every day, and it's the best part of their day--and there are kids that I can tell that, if they didn't get to come to Boys & Girls Club, it would really be a blow to their life, their self-esteem--and if they tell me about that or they say, 'I had a really great time today,' that's just my favorite part of the job," Mitchell says.
If you still doubt that Adam Mitchell is a better person than you, put your effort where your mouth is. Boys & Girls Club is always looking for volunteers and book donations. You can stop being such a selfish prick by calling 841-6854 or 841-5672, going to www.bgca.org, or by calling Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County at 843-7359.