After twenty two years at MHS, librarian Lee Mitchell retires


Media by Ben Hughes

Lee Mitchell, librarian, has helped build the MHS library department for twenty two years. She has contributed to the library’s renovations, technology, and book collections.

As the 2020-2021 school year proceeds, many unprecedented events have unfolded including the absence of Lee Mitchell, librarian. 

“Going to MHS was never like going to work, there were great people there and no day was ever the same in the Library,” Mitchell said. “It was the very best place to be.”

Mitchell worked as head librarian for 22 years, beginning in August 1998. This past summer, Mitchell said she decided to retire due to underlying health issues that put her at a higher risk for COVID-19.

At MHS, Mitchell was involved in numerous building and district committees. These include Renaissance, a program designed to promote student achievement, and RSD National Education Association, a union supporting teachers and administrators.

Melissa Twombly, librarian, began working with Mitchell as a librarian at LHS before joining MHS in 2018. 

“Mitchell was dedicated to Marquette High School,” she said. “She wanted the best for the students and staff and worked diligently to achieve that.”

Throughout the years, Mitchell worked at the ticket gates during football games, assisted with Senior Prom and advocated for library renovations.

“Mitchell cared deeply for the students at MHS,” Twombly said. “She wanted to provide an academic environment where they could read and be productive.” 

Twombly said Mitchell cherished working with her RSD colleagues. She said Mitchell was a generous and caring person who would do anything for you. Mitchell was always interested in life outside of school.

Brittany Sharitz, language arts teacher, will undertake the librarian position. Sharitz first met Mitchell in 2009 when she began her career at MHS as a language arts teacher.

Mitchell has been a staff member at MHS since its opening in 1993. Sharitz said she has played a pivotal role in creating the culture of MHS. She also said Mitchell loved working at MHS and took pride in what she did.

“Mrs. Mitchell loved being the librarian,” Sharitz said. “She loved collaborating with staff and providing anything they needed for their classes. She was very organized which is important to maintaining a large library. Plus, she loved giving book talks to students. From my experience as a teacher, that is when she would really light up — when she was sharing the books she loved with students.” 

Reading provides you mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors to the world. Books give us mirrors into our own cultures and lives, windows to see into other cultures and lives and sliding glass doors to let us go back and forth between those worlds. ”

— Lee Mitchell

Sharitz said she also admires Mitchell’s drive to expand the Library’s book collection, specifically the young adult literature section. 

Mitchell said the Library has changed by the addition of more programs, students and space. The library department has changed with the times by using technology more effectively and by promoting literacy and reading.

Overall, Mitchell said MHS has developed her personality into something she is proud of. She said there were a lot of students, teachers and administrators who helped her succeed. Because of her community, Mitchell said she has experienced many triumphs and memories throughout the duration of her career. 

“I have so many memories at MHS,” she said. “The joy of watching a student who thought they weren’t a reader finding a book they loved and becoming a reader, the senior water bottle prank and the gratification of going to Marquette every day and working with amazing students and staff.”

Mitchell describes MHS as a home where it is possible to learn and thrive. In addition, Mitchell thinks the library will continue  to grow and facilitate the development of student literacy. 

“Reading provides you mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors to the world,” she said. “Books give us mirrors into our own cultures and lives, windows to see into other cultures and lives and sliding glass doors to let us go back and forth between those worlds. Reading and books take you places you may never have the opportunity to visit in person, but they allow you to travel in other ways.”