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Meet an Atlanta member: Sally Dean Mitchell

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Name: Sally Dean Mitchell.

Where I was born and live: Fayetteville, Tenn., 1940. I’ve lived in Atlanta since since 1970.

Family: Married happily to Harold Mann, another longtime FFRF member. He is 86 and has a terrific collection of humanist books.

Education: B.S. and M.A. in education from Peabody Teachers College, Nashville; graduate work at Columbia University, New York City.

Occupation: Teacher in public and private schools from 3-year-olds to college student. In the 1960s, I taught for seven years at Punahou School in Honolulu (President Obama was a 10-year-old there two years after I left in 1969). In the mid-’80s, I owned and directed my own preschool called Children First. I trained teachers for Head Start. Since 1997, I’ve taught piano, drawing and sewing in my home studio.

How I got where I am today: My primary family believed strongly in education, which set my destiny, I suppose. I have lots of friends and mentors who have influenced me.

Where I’m headed: Continuing to love life, learning to draw and paint better, to be a more effective teacher and more tolerant person.

Person in history I admire: Ric Masten, deceased, American humanist poet, musician, philosopher.

A quotation I like: “Variety’s the very spice of life.” (British poet William Cowper) These are a few of my favorite things: Dogs, wolves, books, fabric (I have a huge stash for my art quilts), drawing animals (including a cardinal for FFRF’s newest winter solstice card).
Pet peeves: Being called a guy, as in “you guys.”

My doubts about religion started: In high school, studying Latin and then Greek and Roman mythology. Those god-to-mortal matings!

Before I die: I’d like to share more of my art and love of life.

Ways I promote freethought: Since I rely on students and their parents for my career, I have to be cautious being outspoken as a humanist, although in my adult groups (not income-related), I am “coming out.” Harold and I have loved attending several FFRF and humanist national and regional conventions.

I wish you had asked me: How full my life is. Very! I’m proud of teaching children since 1962, being elected Teacher of the Year at a large private school, buying a home as a single person in the mid-1970s, international travel (including two months’ independent travel across Europe at age 49), editing a 300-page Unitarian Universalist cookbook, having three solo shows of my art quilts, directing/producing two different programs of Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” at UU services, writing and directing a service about poet Ric Masten (with a cast of 23) and having my artwork on an FFRF solstice card!

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