Enjoy stories from the 2022 digital edition of the de Sales Sheet magazine. If you did not receive a copy, please email email@example.com.
Craig Carroll (2011) is thrilled to be back at his alma mater. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Armstrong State University and a master’s from Middle Georgia State University, Carroll joined the middle school staff this year to teach 6th and 7th grade history, coach middle school baseball and football, and assist with the varsity boys basketball team. He has enjoyed being back with his MDS family and has fond memories of his baseball days, Coach Marc Lipson, and special friendships.
What do you like most about teaching and what challenges you?
I enjoy getting to know the students individually and showing them that I care. When students know you care about them, they will go the extra mile for you. The most challenging aspect is bringing the same high energy each day to school. There are days when it is easy and days when it can be a struggle, but knowing that the students benefit from a positive environment keeps me going. My true passion is helping and teaching kids this age (middle school) – they are still learning who they are and are eager to learn.
Describe a favorite activity or lesson.
A favorite lesson of mine would have to be when we are studying the American Revolution. Not only did it lead to the United States gaining its independence, but there is always good student engagement and discussions around this point in history. The kids also love Kahoot when we are reviewing for a test or quiz; those tend to get very competitive!
Besides content, what do you hope your students learn?
I hope my students learn how to be a good person and to show respect to others.
What do you think makes MDS unique?
Mount de Sales students come from all over Middle Georgia, represent a dozen different elementary schools, diverse backgrounds, interests, and religious affiliations. To me, diversity is what makes MDS unique.
What were you like as a student?
I was an athlete who at times did not put forth the effort needed to do well in my classes. I never thought about life after sports, specifically baseball. I enjoyed participating in class discussions and activities, but when it came to homework and studying, I would get lazy. Fortunately, as I got older, I realized that I needed to put forth the same effort into my classes as I did into sports. I am glad I did!
I once won a grilled chicken wing contest amongst my family, but probably most exciting is the special delivery coming for the Carroll family in October – my wife Erica is pregnant!
by Izzy Yousif, 9th grader & Cavalier Ambassador
Here at Mount de Sales, every student is a Cavalier. The perfect representation of mercy, respect, and responsibility makes the students worthy of being Cavaliers.
The most important quality we possess is mercy. The Mount de Sales motto, “MDS is mercy,” is not taken lightly throughout our school. We believe that, by showing forgiveness, we can better our relationship with God and the people around us. Through required service hours and other extracurriculars, students are able to put their mercy into action. MDS makes it a priority to teach their students about this topic. Teachers make sure that God is pleased with the unconditional grace we Cavaliers have shown throughout our lives.
Another essential quality of being a Cavalier is respect. Mount de Sales pushes us to show respect to others, ourselves, and our environment. We are encouraged to love and care for those around us every day. At MDS, we are motivated to do simple yet effective acts of kindness. From holding a door open for someone to helping them clean up their spilled drink, Cavaliers exhibit a wide range of respect. Through theology and self-development classes, students are encouraged to love themselves. Here at Mount de Sales, we know that loving ourselves is vital. We call to mind that by respecting our bodies, we are respecting God’s creation. MDS cultivates ways to respect our environment by providing an ample amount of clubs and opportunities. Through the environmental club and gardening club, students are presented with the opportunity to help take care of our earth. By doing projects such as cleaning a river, planting trees, and nurturing a bee’s nest, we are making an impact.
The final imperative quality of every great Cavalier is responsibility. Managing our actions and assignments makes us more responsible, and we become model Cavaliers because of it. By keeping up with assignments and tests, students are learning valuable life skills such as time management and productivity. We are instructed on ways to complete assignments promptly and with care. This leads us to be better students in the classroom and better Cavaliers to our community. MDS implores students to take accountability for their mistakes. We know that by owning up to our wrongdoings, we are forgiven in the eyes of God, and that is what matters most.
The model Mount de Sales Cavalier is merciful, respectful, and responsible. Students successfully put these words into action with the help and care of our school. As a Cavalier Ambassador, I can say that MDS has given me the tools to become the best version of myself. Through service hours I have learned the importance of being merciful to others and giving back to my community. Through clubs and various classes, I have learned to respect others, myself, and my environment. Finally, through assignments and projects, I have learned to become a better and more productive student. Through Mount de Sales, I have learned to become a substantial Cavalier. This is what it means to be a Cavalier.
If you ask Bubby Mitchell about why wrestling is an important sport, he will have no shortage of words to describe the culture, the athletes, and the physical demands. The former professional MMA fighter has a passion that runs deep.
Mitchell is a member of the Mount de Sales wrestling coaching staff and the owner of Rush Macon, a mixed martial arts and fitness training facility. But to understand his attraction to the sport, we must go back to the beginning.
Mitchell began wrestling in late elementary school, and the effect it had on him was tremendous. “Wrestling gave me guidance as a kid, as a smaller athlete,” he said. It was this sport that gave him confidence and taught him self-discipline and self-worth. He learned about accountability—only he could answer for his wins and losses, practice routines, and goal weight. “It was a springboard. Wrestling gave me the guidance, and MMA gave me the direction on how to apply it to a career field,” said Mitchell.
After graduating from Westside High School in 2001, Mitchell attended college, but he ultimately left to pursue MMA full time. His career was impressive, even earning him an induction into the Georgia MMA Hall of Fame in 2013. It is important to note that he was a fellow fighter alongside another professional: 2001 MDS graduate Cole Miller. With more than 20 years of wrestling experience—16 of those coaching middle and high school programs—and 15 years of MMA experience, Mitchell has more than proven himself to be an expert on the mat.
Mitchell enjoys coaching athletes at all levels, but especially middle school ages. “If we catch them in middle school, we have the ability to plant the seed and really instill some passion in them, a love of the sport, and a can-do attitude.” He continued, “They are willing to take the risk of losing a lot. We can mold them and develop fortitude.”
Kirra, Mitchell’s daughter and sixth-grader at MDS, is a member of the wrestling team, boasting a 30-0 season record and a middle school state championship. Wrestling has the stigma of being just a boys’ sport. Girls, however, are a “dominant force at earlier ages.” Compared to boys, their muscle mass is the same at this stage of physical development and they mature faster, according to Mitchell.
It thrills Mitchell to see a young team grow in the sport, learn about acceptance and how to move forward from mistakes, and build a special camaraderie. To parents who may be unsettled by the thought of their child committing to a wrestling program, he said, “From the outside it looks out of control and very physical—it is very physical. It’s challenging.” The fact that it helps build confidence and mental toughness is key. “Put them in the middle of a mat with another person, and you will see a character develop in a kid unlike any other sport.”
Mitchell is particularly proud of all the wrestling athletes in both varsity and middle school. The younger wrestlers had heart and battled it out with competitors all year. The newest athletes made leaps and bounds in skill and development throughout the season. Senior leadership in high school from Elijah Batchelor and Reese Crews was commendable as they took the lead, dictated the tempo and vibe in practices. Accomplishments in both teams throughout the season were remarkable.
Mount de Sales has a strong wrestling program with a strong staff. Mitchell first coached at MDS from 2010 to 2014, before a stint at Tattnall. When seasoned head coach Carsten Franklin returned to Mount de Sales this year, it was time to bring back Mitchell to round out the talent and experience of the staff. All of them bring a high level of experience as coaches and former wrestlers. Coaches—Franklin, Mitchell, Austin Schaekel, Ben Knaus, Chandler Dean—actively demonstrate and help athletes improve. Mitchell proudly proclaimed, “We have the best coaching staff in Middle Georgia, the young bodies who can get on the mat and work and move with these kids.”
The wrestling program is one of the most successful sports at MDS, and if Mitchell has any more to say about it, it will continue to thrive, develop character in athletes, attract newcomers, and be a force for competitors.
Mount de Sales alumni who graduated before 2002 cannot imagine the campus without the Sisters of Mercy in the classroom. Their presence, and that of Monsignor Cuddy, was a visible reminder of the Catholic faith and underscored that faith in general is not limited to church on Sundays. Today, the connection with our Catholic roots is noticeable in the Franciscan Friar that serves as our campus minister. Father Casey Cole was assigned to the St. Peter Claver parish last year and splits his time between ministering to students at St. Peter Claver School and MDS.
Father Casey challenges traditional stereotypes of life in the ministry – he is young, an avid baseball fan, and he has a social media following that rivals any secular influencer (over 100,000!). He has written three books and will be traveling 17,000 miles this summer with a fellow Friar to visit every major league baseball stadium in the country while speaking, preaching, and signing books along the way. Father Casey is relatable, and he makes himself present and available to support adolescents in their faith journey.
To make connections with students and staff, Father Casey visits classrooms regularly joining in on discussions and can often be seen chatting or tossing the ball with students at lunch. He is not afraid of discussing the tough issues that face young people in these times and teaches a senior theology elective on Faith in the Modern World. Each week, he leads Mass for a theology class, and Father Casey finds the intimate setting encourages students to ask questions, which often leads to engaging discussions.
Father Casey was raised Catholic. “I loved the power of the liturgy and the church’s history and enjoyed studying theology and ministry in college,” said Cole. “But I wanted to advocate for the poor, so I thought I might go into social work.” It was while Father Casey was at Furman University that he met some Franciscan Friars who were serving in the local community. Cole answered the call to join the Friars at age 22 and spent the next six years in formation before taking his vows and another two years of studying before he became a priest. Father Casey describes Franciscans as “contemplatives in action” as they strive to lead a balanced life of introspection and service to their communities. He volunteers at Daybreak Day Resource Center, which supports homeless citizens, and at the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry in addition to his school-based ministry.
When working with Catholic and non-Catholic students, Fr. Casey prioritizes evangelizing, which he describes as loving your faith to the point where you want to share it with others, over proselytizing, which seeks to convert. Given the fact that young people are rapidly leaving organized religion and often express no connection to a faith, Fr. Casey hopes that by presenting a nuanced perspective of the church and providing students with the opportunity to pray, that seeds of faith will be planted and grow within each student over time.
You can follow Fr. Casey’s summer travels at www.breakinginthehabit.org.
Mount de Sales provides many opportunities for our students to be immersed in a world language program. Not only do most colleges require at least two levels of a language, many now want to see three or more years on a prospective student’s transcript. According to upper school division head and former college counselor, Emily Brown, “Colleges like to see students doing something beyond the basic graduation requirements, and they are evaluating transcripts based on the high school courses offered and how a student has chosen to challenge themselves.” This, along with feedback from current students, led to changes in our upper school and middle school world language offerings for the 2022-2023 academic year.
American Sign Language (ASL) will be added to the course offerings. MDS has partnered with ASL Virtual Academy, a Cognia-accredited, rigorous program, specifically designed for schools. The online platform allows for both asynchronous and synchronous learning. Brown shares that, “ASL instructors can offer feedback as students work through modules and submit videos, as well as offering live instruction and interaction with other ASL students from all over the world. This is all facilitated and overseen by an MDS faculty member.” Mrs. Brown added that ASL has been proven to be a great language option for students with learning differences, including dyslexia. She adds, “It is also a skill that can be used with any job, anywhere in the world,” as ASL is now the third most used language in the United States. MDS will be able to offer its students up to three levels of ASL, satisfying the required world language credits for graduation.
In recent years, students have become more interested in dual enrollment where they can simultaneously earn high school and college credit. MDS already teaches a number of college courses on our campus and will add College Spanish and College English to the curriculum next year. Initial course selection for next year has shown a 50% increase in the number of students interested in college level courses, based on these new offerings. College Spanish and College English are intermediate level courses, so students who are interested in going further in their language have the potential of taking up to the 300 level of a college language course before graduating from high school.
Middle school exploratory courses are evolving as well. Currently Cavaliers in the 8th grade take a full year of a world language, equal to a level 1 course, and options include Spanish, French, and Latin. This puts students ahead upon entering high school, and allows them the opportunity to go further in their language, increasing the appeal of their college application. Next year, 6th and 7th graders will have over 22 language options, from Rosetta Stone Foundations, to start developing fundamental language skills including: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. MDS world language faculty will administer the online program in our language lab, and will have immediate access to student scores, content progression, engagements, and more, allowing instant feedback, assessment, and correction as needed. Dr. Mike Franklin, middle school head, says “There is value in adding exploratory courses to the middle school age group. We want to enrich the junior high experience for our students.” Optional languages for the year-long program include Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, and many more.
There are countless benefits of learning a second language including improved academic performance and reading comprehension, enhanced use of logic and reasoning, and cultural awareness. At MDS we pride ourselves on having robust course options and the flexibility to provide students exactly what they need to flourish and grow. We strive to graduate students who are not only prepared for the real world, but also culturally aware and critical thinkers, and we are excited for these changes and the future of the world language department.