Principal Dan Mitchell visits kindergartners in teacher Allison Coulson’s class Monday morning. Mr. Mitchell is the new principal of St. Joan of Arc School, having started in July. He said he was most struck by the kindness of the school and its surrounding community when he started.

In his free time, one might find Dan Mitchell strolling through the parks in Stark County with his metal detector. Having always been a collector of record albums and books, Mr. Mitchell, a North Canton resident, said metal detecting was the next logical step in his desire for hunting for goodies.

“It’s a great exercise of patience,” Mr. Mitchell said of metal detecting. “I’ve really learned a lot more patience doing that.”

Mr. Mitchell, 42, is the new principal of St. Joan of Arc School in Chagrin Falls. Having started in July, he follows the role of former Principal Shelley DiBacco.

A Toledo native, Mr. Mitchell has 15 years of experience in teaching middle school English in both public and private school settings, and he was the principal of S.S. Philip and James Catholic School in Canal Fulton since 2015 before coming to St. Joan of Arc. Mr. Mitchell earned his bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from Bowling Green State University in 2006. He earned his master’s degree in literature at the University of Akron in 2007 and his master’s degree in education from Walsh University of North Canton in 2016.

Mr. Mitchell said he also coached and considers it a hobby. Before becoming a principal, he coached football from kindergarten to varsity level, along with baseball, basketball and track.

While Mr. Mitchell said in his first year at St. Joan of Arc he plans to focus on learning the established practices of the school before rolling out any big initiative, he has a few ideas he is considering for the school.

He has ideas of engaging academically gifted students to help them reach their full potential. He explained that he would like to provide talented students with task-oriented projects that require more problem solving and critical thinking.

“We do a lot for kids who have learning disabilities, we have tons of programs for kids in IEPs, and we do a lot for the kids who are at-level learners,” he said of the school. “But I think we need to do more for the higher-level students.”

Other ideas he said he would like to suggest for the school include expanding the school’s new makerspace and bringing more environmental consciousness to the school.

He noted that the school has already switched entirely to LED lighting for more energy efficiency and added that he’d like to build on this.

“I think there’s a lot of really interesting things that we could attempt to do in the future,” he said, listing the potential for a student garden, using solar panels for the school, composting and initiating a more in-depth recycling program. “My primary goal is teaching kids to conserve energy and be as environmentally conscious as possible.”

Mr. Mitchell said he’s been married to his wife, Hilary, for 21 years. He has one daughter and two sons.

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