Introducing Dr Leo Mitchell, Head of Year 7 and English Teacher at Dulwich Prep Cranbrook
What is your favourite school memory?
My favourite memory is performing in Blood Brothers. I was cast as Eddie, the posh one. I was immensely relieved that there wasn’t too much singing for me to do. A perfect casting!
Who inspired you to become a teacher?
The influence of an exceptional teacher stays with you for life – to instil such a passion in a child that they take your subject forward is surely the hallmark of a great teacher. For me, that teacher was Mr Winrow. Not only was he inspirational, he also had the full measure of me. He pinned my parents’ email addresses to the wall so that he could contact them if I forgot my homework.
How do you inspire reluctant students?
I love the subject and I love the texts I teach. I ensure that my own excitement and joy comes across to the children as we are reading together. I hope my passion for English is infectious and leaves a lasting impression on the children I teach.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Hearing ideas that I am not expecting from the children is always a thrilling experience. It challenges me and reinforces all the reasons I entered this profession. It happens all the time, and never fails to surprise me.
How do you relax away from school?
I have two children under 3 years old, so I don’t have much time for relaxing these days. I love taking them swimming and I obviously read whenever I can.
Tell us about your favourite book.
I’ve always loved His Dark Materials and I still read the trilogy often. My current favourite is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It took me until I was 30 to read it and no other story has ever thrilled and scared me quite so much. From the very first chapter, which describes the winding driveway up to Manderley (where most of the story takes place), I was so absorbed and absolutely on the edge of my seat. The character of Mrs Danvers, in particular, is deliciously chilling.
We’ve teamed up with bookshop.org to get some brilliant recommendations from local bookshops. These books are all available at bookshop.org, where you can find all kinds of literary gems and support local business
Nash at Much Ado About Books, East Sussex recommends…
The Great Godden by Meg Rossoff
“A brilliant short novel for mature teens. Emotionally complex, but with a brilliant plot, it raises questions that stay with readers long after putting it down.”
Bryony South at the Cobham
The Owl Service by Alan Garner
“Inspired by Welsh mythology this is classic Garner: ordinary people pulled into a dangerous magical world. Blodeuwedd, a girl made from flowers to be the bride of a prince, conspires to murder the prince and as punishment is turned into an owl. Wonderful and strange classic.”
Alison Smith at Barnett’s
of Wadhurst recommends…
Adventures in Time: Alexander the Great by Dominic Sandbrook
“The “Adventures in Time” series shows today’s children that the past is full of exciting adventures and gripping stories – including Alexander the Great, Henry the Eighth and the Second World War.”
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