ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – An electronics engineer with the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity is so dedicated to helping young people succeed that he volunteers as a tutor five days a week.
For his service to the community, Henderson “Mitch” Mitchell was selected out of 27 other nominees to receive the “Ripple Effect Award” at the 30th Annual Harford’s Most Beautiful People Awards, a ceremony hosted by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and the Harford County Department of Community Services.
According to Mitchell, he doesn’t volunteer for awards or praise. Instead, his goal is to inspire others.
“There is an absolute, phenomenal need for tutors,” he said. “We can help change the world.”
Claudia Sconion, a retired Edgewood High School teacher nominated Mitchell for the award. In 1992, Sconion helped create the Kenneth V. Hilton Mentorship Program at EHS to provide African-American males with positive role models. After forming the program, a group of AMSAA civilians, including Mitchell, volunteered to mentor the students. He has served in the program for more than 20 years, preparing students for the future, Sconion said.
“The students really respect and admire him; they know he wants the best for them,” she added. “He is like a father or a brother to the students, teaching them critical life skills like how to prepare for an interview, and how to carry themselves with confidence.”
She called his selection for the award, “awesome.”
“He has been a blessing to so many kids,” she said. “He has gone above and beyond for so many years.”
Mitchell also volunteers as a math tutor for students in kindergarten through 12th grade at the Edgewood unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County and the Windsor Valley Community Center, also located in Edgewood.
“It’s my passion,” Mitchell said of tutoring. “It’s my calling, and my talent, you might say.”
He said he challenges children to focus on their academics, to prepare for the future, though he acknowledges that life won’t always be easy.
“I tell them, you have no idea what life is going to offer you,” he said. “It [life] will throw you a curveball at any moment.”
Mitchell also coaches life skills, like public speaking and interviewing techniques.
“Confidence means a lot,” he said.
A native of North Carolina, Mitchell credits his parents for instilling in him a strong work ethic at a young age. During summer breaks, he worked on a farm to help his family.
“You see people working hard, you see people helping each other, taking care of their neighbors,” Mitchell said of his upbringing.
He said he hopes to pass on the value of hard work by encouraging students to do their best.
“I tell them, even if you aren’t coming to the Boys and Girls Club, you still need to do the work,” he said.
AMSAA leadership praises Mitchell
AMSAA Team Leader, David Payne, congratulated Mitchell for receiving the Ripple Effect Award.
“This award represents what we’ve known for a long time: that Mitch always works to help others,” Payne said. “His devotion to the youth, in trying to help their path to success be a little easier, is remarkable. He’s an outstanding role model for us all.”
AMSAA director James Amato, a member of the Senior Executive Service, said Mitchell has selflessly served the community for more than two decades.
“He, like so many of the AMSAA family, understands how important it is to share one’s talents and donate one’s time to improve the lives of those around us,” Amato said.
“I am extremely proud of Mitch for earning this award, though he will be the first to tell you that his reward is spending time with, listening to, coaching and mentoring the young men and women who are our future. There are so many stories like Mitch’s here at AMSAA. That’s one of the things that makes AMSAA so great. It’s an honor to be part of this team.”