Linda Mitchell, Dorset School’s nurse and guidance counselor, is an Energizer bunny at work, at home and in her community. Well known for promoting movement, healthy eating and mindfulness oriented practices throughout each day for students and adults. Recently, she has set up a way for staff to hula hoop while using the copier and has Thera bands on her desk. She uses a ball chair in her office and creates several two week challenges to keep colleagues engaged. She has encouraged the institutionalization of yoga and the Go Noodle program in several classrooms. Mitchell has written and received wellness orient grants, said Phyllis Tate, another colleague.
According to her colleague, Kristen Pannone, Mitchell is an expert at taking the pulse of the community and finding ways to ensure that we as professionals feel valued, supported and important. Her endeavors range from arranging yoga classes, organizing a fat bike raffle, and organizing staff poetry readings at her home.
“I am very proud of all our school and the supervisory union has done to create a healthier environment. We recently used the School Health Index (an assessment instrument) to evaluate the health of our school community. As a result of this evaluation, our supervisory union established a wellness committee and a wellness policy with very specific nutrition and physical activity guidelines. No child may sit for more than 60 minutes at a time and for the first time we did not distribute Halloween candy this year. I believe the school is much more mentally and physically healthy now. I have noticed many employees consider the potential negative health aspects before planning any new events or activities.
I sought out Linda after a tough parent-teacher conference,” said Pannone. “As always I knew I could count on her guidance and support. Sure enough, her door was open, just as it always is figuratively and truthfully. She is just a true gem. She is also a true rock star and our student body knows they can count on her to meet their social and emotional needs. “
Mitchell grew up in a household filled with the sounds of siblings and animals. Her father was a veterinarian and she worked in his office on multiple occasions. Now an avid bicyclist, Mitchell’s foray into cycling did not begin until age 40. “I met a woman who asked me to partner with her and participate in the annual Trek across Maine, a 180 mile American Lung Association fundraiser. I didn’t even have a bicycle but I said yes, bought one for $100 and raised the required amount of funds necessary. And I loved doing it so much that It became an annual family oriented event. “Over the past few years, Mitchell said she has become all the more active. I have now hiked every mountain in the surrounding area and had a bicycle specifically designed for me.”