Finding Passion: Make Every Day the Best Day

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Have you ever wondered how people who motivate others stay motivated themselves? In this episode of Add Passion and Stir, two high-powered changemakers talk about what drives them as they inspire those around them. Dr. Clint Mitchell, Principal at Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School in Fairfax, VA works in a low-income community school. In a career that has unusually high turn-over (statistics say most teachers will quit after three to five years) Mitchell finds he has to hire teachers who are passionate about the work and willing to go the extra mile for underprivileged kids. “It’s my job to keep them positive,” he says. Relating it to passion in the cooks he hires, Zack Mills, chef at Wit & Wisdom in Baltimore, jokes, “It’s a slight craziness. You have to be slightly off to be that passionate.” Host Billy Shore asks his two guests how they themselves avoid burnout. Chef Mills considers himself lucky because he’s always had a passion for cooking and enjoys helping those who work for him achieve success. He uses the Japanese term Kaizen – trying to be better than the day before – to describe his philosophy for work and life. “We’re always learning. If we think we’re not learning anymore, then we’re in the wrong place,” he concludes. Dr. Mitchell echoes that sentiment. “I tell my teachers, ‘every single day we get a fresh start and the kids get a fresh start. So every single day, make that day the best day.’”

Both Mitchell and Mills are long-time supporters of the No Kid Hungry campaign. Mitchell is on the frontlines of the battle against childhood hunger in our schools; 91% of the kids in his district receive free or reduced meals. “When kids are hungry, they shut down. It becomes a behavior issue…but the root cause is hunger,” he points out. Mills recently participated in a No Kid Hungry impact trip in Northern Virginia. He says there is nothing like bearing witness to the kids in need and the work that is being done to help them. “Everybody was so passionate about making sure the children were fed. I wanted to get even more involved after that,” he says.

Get back to basics through this conversation about school hunger with two changemakers who not only share their own passion, but bring it out in others.

Resources and Mentions:

Zack Mills

Graduated from The French Culinary Institute in 2007. Immediately following graduation, Mills began working in various kitchens in the Washington, D.C. area before landing his dream job as a sous chef at Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina restaurant located in Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. Continuing under Mina’s mentorship, Mills accepted the executive chef position at Wit &Wisdom, Mina’s upscale American tavern located in Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. At Wit & Wisdom, Mills is responsible for overseeing daily breakfast, lunch and dinner services, as well as Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore’s 24-hour room service. He is fostering an environment in the kitchen of Wit & Wisdom where staff can develop their talents, maximize their creativity and reach their full potential. With his close ties to the community, Mills maintains strong relationships with the area’s top farms and looks to continue to grow the restaurant’s relationships with additional local purveyors.

Clint Mitchell

Born on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and immigrated to the United States on November 12, 1989. He attended Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy in 1998. He earned a Master of Arts in Urban Policy and Public Administration in 2001 and a second Master of Education in Education Leadership at George Mason University in 2004. Dr. Mitchell earned a doctoral degree from Virginia Polytech University in Education Leadership and Policy Studies in 2017. He began his career in public education as a history teacher in the New York City public school system. In 2006, he was appointed principal of Bel Air Elementary School. After serving 10 years, he was appointed the new principal of Mount Vernon Woods Elementary in Fairfax County Virginia Public Schools. During the 2012-2013 school year, he received the 2013 Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award. Dr. Mitchell was also selected as the Prince William County Public Schools Principal of the Year.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Root Cause Coalition

The Root Cause Coalition is a national, member-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants leading to nationwide epidemic of preventable chronic health conditions.

Wit & Wisdom

Located in Baltimore’s Harbor East inside Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina offers comfort food with a contemporary Eastern Seaboard twist. Relax over handcrafted cocktails and a wine list featuring the best American winemakers in the spacious and inviting lounge. Savor breakfast, lunch and dinner (think burgers, steak and local seafood specialties) prepared to perfection.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Maryland

The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment, and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care. cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disorder that affects the pancreas and other organs. It affects 30,000 people in the U.S.

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