Henry Mitchell “Mitch” Brickell, a renowned education researcher and reformer, former assistant superintendent of Manhasset Public Schools and resident of Manhasset, died on Oct. 25. He was 92.
Over the course of a decadeslong career in education, Brickell served as a high school teacher, college professor, school administrator and policy advocate for several states’ education systems, in addition to founding his own nonprofit for education research.
A native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Brickell earned a bachelor’s degree at Ohio State University and received master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and Teachers College at Columbia University. Brickell also received his doctorate in education from Columbia, in 1953.
Brickell briefly taught English at a high school in Illinois after graduating. According to his daughter Sally Brickell, he “made short work of his first teaching job.”
“As adviser to the school newspaper, and frustrated by student reporters missing deadlines, he published an issue of the paper with blank spaces featuring bylines like, ‘This space was supposed to have been filled by John Smith,” Sally Brickell said.
In 1961, Brickell wrote a report for the New York State Education Department entitled “Organizing New York State for Educational Change,” which assisted the state’s K-12 schools in describing what responsibilities fell to administrators and school boards for student success.
Shortly thereafter, Brickell joined the administration of the Manhasset schools, where he served as an assistant superintendent from 1964 to 1965.
Later he authored various other studies and in 1973 founded the nonprofit research group Policy Studies in Education, where he served as chairman and directed over 500 projects to improve education for K-12 students.
The nonprofit work led him to collaborate with school districts across the country to improve their systems. Brickell also taught on education at Stanford University, served as associate dean for research and development at Indiana University, and prepared the conference report for the Vice President’s Task Force on Youth Employment under then-Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980.
Sally Brickell remembers her father as “a firm yet loving parent, ever in teaching mode and usually traveling.”
“We would all work together as a family, not just editing academic pieces but also working in the yard, painting the house, repairing things,” Sally Brickell recalled.
A memorial service for Brickell was held at the Congregational Church of Manhasset on Sunday, and he will be interred in his hometown of Yazoo City. Brickell is survived by his wife, Mary, four children, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the Brickell family requested that donations may be made to the nonprofit Manhasset Student Aid Association, co-founded by Mary Brickell, which provides financial assistance to help local students achieve the goal of a college education.