While student teaching at Newfound Regional High School this spring, Patrick Mignanelli ’22 carried a briefcase to the psychology, economics, and US history classes he taught, and he wore a suit and tie. “I tried to be a good role model students could look up to,” says the social studies education major, who also wore business attire to his classes on campus.
He says his hard-working parents passed on those professional ethics, and he intends to keep putting them to work as he carves out his own journey as a teacher with a passion for supporting students in rural communities.
While attending Plymouth Regional High School and again while teaching at Newfound Regional, Mignanelli was struck by the disparity between students from affluent towns and those that are rural and impoverished. “Not all students had access to the internet and technology,” he explains. “That creates a disadvantage for a lot of young people.”
As Mignanelli transitions in the fall to Brown University, where he was accepted on a full scholarship to work toward a master’s in the art of teaching, he will focus on urban education and tackling inequity. “That’s what drew me to the Brown program,” he says. “I want to be a teacher, and I want to be as qualified and best prepared for my students as I can be. I see myself leading and serving in areas that need help.”
Teaching social studies in particular, he says, will give him the chance to help shape future citizens and make sure they’re well-informed and able to think critically and see things from multiple perspectives.
Mignanelli grew up in nearby Campton, NH, and has worked 30 hours a week at Walmart throughout his education, still managing to exceed the expectations of faculty, his advisors, and even fellow students who admire everything from the humble way he accepts feedback to the respect and gratitude he constantly offers others. “His peers highly appreciate Patrick’s enthusiasm and have grown because of him,” says Teaching Faculty Kelsie Brook Eckert, coordinator of social studies education, who has mentored Mignanelli and had him in class. “He sees feedback as a gift and opportunity to improve.”
Eckert adds, “One of the things I adore about Patrick is that when he came to class, he came prepared to dive in. Sometimes he would come with a list of questions and discussion topics so thorough that I had to remind him, jokingly, that I also had an agenda for the class.”
In Eckert’s Advances in Social Studies Education course, Mignanelli took part in a long-term project to build and launch a social studies education website for all program graduates and practicing educators to find resources for teaching.
“Not only did Patrick jump on the opportunity to contribute to the field, but his passion drove him to presenting our project at the New Hampshire Council for the Social Studies annual
conference in October,” says Eckert. “Patrick was the youngest presenter by far and impressed the attendees on the work that we had done. Few undergraduates are ready for such professional opportunities, but Patrick was.”
Presenting before the council was a highlight for Mignanelli during his education at Plymouth State. Another was participation in a four-week legal academy last summer, since he knows that social studies and equity are closely tied to the legal system and how it shapes society.
As is typical of Mignanelli, he takes no credit for his achievements. Instead, he cannot stop offering thanks to those who have supported him. “I was able to apply to Brown University and get a full scholarship there because the great professors at Plymouth State shaped my whole education,” he says. “I’ve become 100 times the student I was my freshman year. It’s a great school.”