Football player’s story inspires writing effort

Sandra McMahan and Malcolm Mitchell. Photo provided by Sandra McMahan.

This story was written by Rachel Plouse, originally published in The Sylva Herald.

Sandra McMahan, the mother of two members of the Mountain Faith band and wife of another, has always had a passion for children.

After Mountain Faith garnered new found fame from America’s Got Talent, McMahan decided it would be a great opportunity to use the band’s popularity to encourage children across the community to get interested in creative writing.

She first got the idea after learning about Malcolm Mitchell, a football player for the New England Patriots, and his struggle with learning how to read in college.

Mitchell started a literacy foundation with the goal of getting as many books into the hands of first graders as possible.

Mcmahan decided she wanted to do the same with journals. and to use music to get students into creative writing.

From there, “I Write My Story” was born.

“Having taught kindergarten and first grade and seeing how so very excited the kids were when they would write a story, how proud  they were of it – it just really inspired me,” McMahan said.

After taking a year off from teaching, the first step for McMahan was to assemble a board to help ensure great results.

Anita Coggins, a special needs teacher at Cullowhee Valley Elementary School and a cousin of McMahan’s, was an obvious choice to sit on the board.

“I realize the importance of programs to help support students who many have difficulties with reading or writing,” Coggins said. “I feel if they fall in love with reading and writing at an early age, it will help promote lifelong learners and help them be successful writers in their upper-level classes.”

Summer McMahan, lead vocalist of Mountain Faith and daughter of Sandra McMahan, expressed her excitement about the program using live video on the band’s Facebook page.

“We really do love schools, love getting to go in and encourage kids,” she said.

“I Write My Story” had its first official event in Rosman on March 28. Mountain Faith visited the schools.

Each student received a journal, listened to Mountain Faith’s song “Lazy River” written by the band for the program, and thought about how a river could possibly be lazy.

According to McMahan, she’s not concerned with handwriting or really much else, but only that students can get their thoughts out and on paper.

“It’s not how, or what they write, it’s that they write,” she said.