Miami-Dade student follows brothers’ footsteps as valedictorian and Stanford-bound
The Mistele family is three for three in children named valedictorian of their high school senior class at Ransom Everglades School.
What are the odds of that? Probably a lot lower when you also factor in that all three Misteles went on to Stanford University.
The youngest in the family, Anna Mistele will graduate Friday from the Coconut Grove prep school at the top of her class — just like older brothers Matthew and John did when they graduated in 2013 and 2017, respectively. She’ll join them in Palo Alto, California, for college.
“I found out about Stanford first, and I was so excited to join my brothers,” said Mistele, 18. “I wasn’t stressed out about trying to be valedictorian, but when I found out I was like, ‘Wow, all three of us.’ ”
If you ask any of the Misteles how they did it, it seems effortless. Even fun.
And that’s the key — the Mistele kids share a love of learning.
That was instilled in them at Alexander Montessori School, says eldest brother Matthew, now 23. Teachers there harped on math from an early age. Matthew would come home excited to teach his younger siblings about what he learned.
“He’s just so excited about learning all the time that he spread that excitement about his classes with me and John,” Anna Mistele said. “He sort of set the tone.”
Though their parents met as graduate students at Stanford, Matthew says it was a high school math camp he attended at Stanford that lured him back there for college. Their father, Timothy Mistele, a senior adviser at a private investment group, and mother, Julie Gagnon, live in Coral Gables.
“When I stepped foot on Stanford, I just knew that if Anna and John got into this, they would love it here and kill it here,” Matthew Mistele said.
After his brother paved the way as valedictorian, John Mistele said there was never any pressure on him to reach the same bar. If anything, there was positive social pressure among peers to perform well in school.
“I was never worried about following in his footsteps,” said John, 20. “A lot of middle school and high school was trying things that Matt really liked.”
Mathematics teacher Henry Stavisky, who also graduated from Ransom and also attended Stanford, taught all three Mistele siblings in several classes. All three took his Advanced Placement Calculus BC course.
Matthew, he said, was a student who went beyond the subject matter “for enjoyment.” John, who had a slight competitive edge, made headlines in 2016 for being one out of 11 students worldwide who earned a perfect score on the AP Calculus BC exam.
Stavisky knew what to expect with Anna. “She’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “On top of academics, she seriously cares about people,” even creating a smartphone app for herself and classmates to stay organized with Ransom’s erratic bell schedule. The app is now being used in South Miami-area schools.
“All three have that curiosity about learning,” he said. “They actually explore problems on their own.”
In his 20 years of teaching, Stavisky says he’s never seen a family dynasty like this one.
“Even faculty wonder, how do they raise their children? What’s the recipe here?” he added. “This is something out of the ordinary.”
The Mistele kids chalk their success up to supportive teachers and a balanced life at home. Their mom prepared home-cooked meals, video game time was limited and early bedtimes were a must. Anna Mistele pined to be older so she could stay up until 10 p.m. like her brothers.
They all insist their encouraging parents never put any pressure on them to compete academically.
“I definitely wouldn’t say it was easy,” Anna Mistele said. “I just don’t think there’s a special family secret we have.”
She’s not sure what she’ll major in at Stanford, but she says studying computer science will blend well with any subject, even humanities.
Mistele won’t even brag about her accomplishments, or those of her family, in her graduation speech. She’d rather focus on the memories she shared with her graduating class and thanking her teachers.
“It hasn’t been a very bumpy road full of sacrifices,” she added. “It’s just been a road of excitement learning new things.
“It was just kind of a happy surprise.”