Dr. McMichael says, “I’m blessed with the opportunity to share with young people what I have always found so amazing about language, literature, and the arts.” After his first year of teaching here he and his wife, Leslie, fell in love with the small town environment, bought a house and began enjoying the life and friends that they gave made here.The McMichaels love the outdoors and are very active – bird and big game hunting, hiking, running, mountain biking, and fly fishing. In addition to language arts, Dr. McMichael’s big passion is music, and he plays the bagpipes professionally. Mrs. McMichael is an artist and has a jewelry and mosaic business in addition to being a healthcare professional.Dr. McMichael’s father recently retired after 47 years as an English professor. His passion for literature influenced young McMichael a lot, but his father also helped introduce him to music which caught his interest most strongly as a kid. Dr. McMichael studied music in high school and college, went to a conservatory, changed gears and got a more general liberal arts degree and then earned a Ph.D. and became a professor. He focused on music, and continues to perform in lots of different musical styles – jazz, classical, and (most recently) Celtic music. Now, though, he finds himself teaching what his father devoted his life to (language and literature).
Dr. McMichael’s parents divorced when he was five. He and his brother lived with their mother, a public high school art teacher, and – a bit later – with his stepfather, an electrical engineer and musician. He says he was lucky to have so many creative and intelligent influences in his life as a young kid. His mom taught the boys how to make Christmas presents out of clay (she taught ceramics, and had a potter’s wheel and kiln at home), and in her quiet way over the years showed him the importance and dedication of public school teachers. She also volunteered at a nearby urban community center in an African American neighborhood, and took the two boys along with her. They learned early about both the similarities and non-threatening differences between people who looked different from each other.
Dr. McMichael’s stepfather had scores and scores of jazz LPs that McMichael spent hours listening to. He also read the liner notes to those records, and there first learned about the great divide between African Americans and whites in this country. He was amazed to read about how these incredible artists were discriminated against because of their skin color. This topic eventually became his doctoral dissertation.
About his subject of Language Arts, Dr. McMichael says, “Language is what makes us most unique as a species. Because of language and art (in any form), humans can communicate with incredible precision and variety the vast range of things that make each of us who we are in all our differences from one another.”
“But language also ties us together in surprising, unexpected ways. It can open our eyes and hearts and minds to things we never imagined. It can cause and express intense pain and unbelievable joy. It can make your life huge. In the end, language is our main tool for making our way through life, and yet most of us take it for granted. If we didn’t we’d probably go crazy.”
As an English teacher he strives to draw some good attention to the tool of language and help students make the best use of it they can. McMichael considers language to be a powerful tool, the more skill you have with it, the better your life will be.
The McMichaels may often be seen enjoying CHS athletic events as well as attending music and social events in the community. One of Dr. McMichael’s most noted hobbies is fly-fishing. He has even taken students on a day outing to give them some needed relief and teach them a little about the fly-fishing sport.
This article is adapted from Dr. McMichael’s teaching blog on WordPress, https://mistermcmichael.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/welcome/.