Seymour High School graduate lives his faith

May. 18, 2014 @ 03:14 PM

 Cody Mitchell would like to be a pastor.

“I feel passionate about the Lord, and I feel it’s something he’s calling me to do,” he said. “So often we just wait for someone else to do things. We don’t take into account that maybe God is calling us to do it.”

Mitchell, 18, will graduate from Seymour High School May 27. He plans to go to Walters State Community College in the fall. He wants to study religion and theology and would like eventually to transfer to Johnson University, the Christian college in Knoxville.

He is inspired by Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Mitchell uses a wheelchair, because he has motor issues related to his premature birth. He weighed one pound, 12 ounces, when he was born. His twin brother, Connor, who attends the Knoxville School for the Deaf, weighed one pound, six ounces. They were not expected to live. “We were both very sick,” Mitchell said. “We were in the hospital for five and a half months. It was day to day survival for a long time.”

Except for a preschool stint at Trula Lawson Early Childhood Center, Mitchell has attended Seymour schools exclusively: Seymour Elementary, Seymour Intermediate, Seymour Middle, Seymour High.

He has enjoyed high school. “The teachers are great,” he said. “They’re all good kids. I feel they all respect me.” He has especially liked studying psychology and U.S. history.

When Mitchell was little, the family was encouraged to put him in special ed. “I had an aunt who was a teacher,” said his father, Stephen Mitchell, a firefighter for the city of Knoxville. “I asked her. She said, absolutely, he needs to go to regular schools.”

Cody has a 3.8 grade point average. “He’s never looked back,” Stephen said. Stephen’s wife, Susan, is a church worker and substitute teacher. They also have a daughter, Faith. “We’re very blessed,” said Stephen, who attributes Cody’s recovery to the power of prayer. “We have three healthy kids.” The family has received “incredible support” from the community, and from Seymour High, Stephen said.

“My wife and I, we can’t say enough about the school,” he said.

Cody’s faith is palpable. “I share Jesus with people on a daily basis,” he said.

“When I was 8 years old,” he said, “they knew I was going to be a pastor.”

 kburns@themountainpress.com