Born to Teach
A conversation with a young Catholic educator in the classical mold
BY CARLOS BRICEÑO
July 23 - August 5, 2006 Issue | Posted 7/23/06 at 9:00 AM
Elizabeth Mitchell earned a
doctorate and licentiate in church communications from the
Tell me about your family.
I grew up in
I have an older brother who is a diocesan priest. He is just a year older than me, and it’s wonderful to have a priest in the family. I have three younger siblings, all with a lot of faith. So faith has been part of my family environment.
What made you decide to study in
I did something rather radical for
my graduate studies. I came to
This was a degree that formed me theologically and as a professional communicator.
Why did you pick communications?
It picked me, really. I had done a
literature degree for undergraduate. I sent out applications to a number of
graduate schools, and I had the
I received a full-ride scholarship. It was the Lord opening a door.
Had you considered a career in communications before?
No, and I certainly hadn’t
considered moving to
What was the most important lesson you learned about communications at the school?
I think the importance of representing the Church professionally to the modern world in the language that the modern world is speaking. If the Church wants to communicate the Gospel, it’s got to communicate the Gospel where modern man is seeking his information and his entertainment and his formation — and that’s in the media.
Modern man is on the Internet, watching TV, on film, in journalism. It’s not enough to have communicated the Gospel in the past. It’s got to be communicated today in the modern language, and that’s the culture of the media.
Tell me about the school you work for. How was
It was founded by my parents in
1997, the year I came to
The students have simply come, the families have come, and we’ve graduated our first three sets of graduates — beautiful young people who know their faith.
Did your parents have any connection with education before?
Both were professional educators.
My father was a university professor who had then become the headmaster of a
very prestigious private academy in the Wisconsin area —
He took what he learned there and he always had it as a dream to replicate the strong academics at a private academy with the faith formation of a Catholic school. So the independent Catholic school model was the ideal vehicle.
And your mom?
She is, as well, a professional educator. She had her master’s degree in medieval literature and a great love of curriculum, and she’s the curriculum coordinator. She teaches both literature and religion at various levels of the school. My dad is the headmaster of kindergarten through grade 12. He teaches French, literature and medieval history.
Why did you decide to work there?
So many people said, “What?
Pewaukee is where? This school is how big?” The opportunities I had when I
finished my degree in
I felt the front lines of the faith were to be found in Catholic education. And I said that’s where I need to be. And so off I went. I said that, if I make a difference in the lives of 15 high school seniors, great. I have found the rewards to be incredible.
What are you trying to accomplish at the school?
We would like
Ideally, I’d like to make sure
that what takes place at
Carlos Briceño is based in
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