Mitchell Retires After Many Years of Dedication

It was a list of Who’s Who among Fauquier County Schools. Dozens of people turned out to say goodbye to Dr. Sandra Mitchell, associate superintendent of Fauquier County schools, after 40 years of service.

Mitchell’s retirement celebration was held at Fauquier High School on Wednesday, Dec. 12. The event started at 3 p.m. with a meet and greet and was followed by a formal ceremony that started at 6 p.m. Speakers included Mitchell’s family, former students, and colleagues (both past and present).

Dr. Mitchell started her education career at Cedar Lee Junior High. Librarian Kim Ritter was one of her first students.

“I remember that she had just graduated from Mary Washington that summer, and at 12 years old, I was still 6 inches taller than she,” Ritter said. “She was as energetic, exciting, inspiring then as she is 40 years later. Even then, I think she knew it was about relationships—she is still in touch with many of my classmates from that Communications Core class at Cedar Lee.”
A few years into her teaching career, Mitchell made the move to high school. Ritter ended up back in Mitchell’s class during her sophomore year at FHS.

“I wasn’t on the best path that tenth grade year,” Ritter said. “She was quite patient.”

Science teacher Tammy Hagan had Mitchell for eleventh grade English at FHS.

“She had a wonderful sense of humor,” Hagan said. “She was just an all-around real person.”

English and reading Supervisor Steven Payne was both a student and a colleague. He helped organize Mitchell’s retirement ceremony.

“She was very adamant about having a people-friendly event that was convenient as possible for greeting and enjoying the good wishes of everyone,” Payne said. “She wanted it held at FHS, where she had taught for several years. She wanted any speakers to have a limited amount of time! We tried to honor her wishes.”

Dr. David Jeck, superintendent of Fauquier County Public Schools, was the last speaker of the night. He shared how he will miss Mitchell’s counsel, sense of humor, knowledge, honesty and courage. He then presented Mitchell with several gifts including a plaque, a Virginia flag that flew over the state capitol, and a framed letter from President Barack Obama.

Payne said that the best part of the night was, “Seeing Dr. Mitchell’s reaction to receiving a framed letter and picture from President Obama honoring her 40 years of service. Her joy in fulfilling her life’s purpose is contagious!”

Although she is retiring from Fauquier County Public Schools, she will continue to work in education. In January, she will become a part-time educational leadership instructor and the program administrator for the leadership preparation program for the University of Virginia, Falls Church campus.

Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson worked with Mitchell for years in Fauquier County. She is now a professor at UVA and is thrilled with Mitchell’s decision to join the university faculty.

“Those of us at the University of Virginia have won the lottery,” Tomlinson said.

Although Payne will miss her, he wishes Mitchell all the best in the next phase of her life.

“She deserves many years of health and happiness in retirement,” Payne said. “I am excited that she will continue to influence the current and next generation of administrative leaders through her work with the UVa Center in Falls Church. I look forward to many years of continued friendship with and counsel from her.”