Jackson County teacher Sandra Brown McMahan ’11 MSA ’16 (above, right) and Malcolm Mitchell (center), wide receiver for the NFL’s New England Patriots, have a special connection. After meeting in 2016, they teamed up to bring an entertaining program about literacy to schoolchildren in Western North Carolina, with Mitchell focusing on reading and McMahan on writing. The story of their collaboration began when McMahan attended a seminar at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching, where she saw a video featuring Mitchell talking about his struggles with reading. He was a star athlete at the University of Georgia, but his difficulties made it hard to keep up in class. Mitchell eventually went on to write a children’s book, play in the Super Bowl and serve as a mentor to young people through a foundation he established, Read With Malcolm. McMahan was moved by Mitchell’s story after seeing the video and wrote to him. Mitchell replied, and the two became friends. McMahan also has family ties to Mountain Faith, a Jackson County bluegrass/gospel band that won fame on “America’s Got Talent.” Several of her family members perform with the band, which is touring nationally. Getting to know Mitchell and his work with the Read With Malcolm foundation gave McMahan the idea to start a foundation involving Mountain Faith called “I Write My Story Inc.” The foundation promotes literacy through musical programs with an emphasis on songwriting. “Our hope is to encourage students to create stories, songs and poems, and learn the importance of writing,” McMahan said. Mitchell, McMahan and Mountain Faith (including vocalist Summer McMahan, above left) presented a program together at Cullowhee Valley School in April. The elementary students heard a talk by Mitchell, were given copies of his book “The Magician’s Hat,” enjoyed a mini-concert by Mountain Faith and received a journal with blank pages to fill with their own words, courtesy of the “I Write My Story Inc.” foundation.