Manager of the Month: ‘There’s Beauty in the Periodic Table’

April 13, 2018




By Bobbi Jo Pennington 

Barbara McCann is ASK Academy’s newest manager, joining the staff in January. She is teaching the High school Chemistry and Microbiology classes. In her first semester she was voted Manager of the Month, which is a difficult feat.

Did you expect to be manager of the month and how did you feel? Oh my gosh, no, I didn’t expect this at all.  It makes me feel appreciated, valued, and loved.  Thank you so much; what an honor!

Why do you think scholars voted for you? I think scholars voted for me because I’m new.  I hope they voted for me because they see my passion toward the curriculum, too.

At what point in your life did you decide to become a teacher? How did it happen?  Haha, this is funny. I went off to college knowing 2 things:  I didn’t want to be a teacher or a nurse. I had watched my mom work her tail off her whole life as a teacher.  So I majored in marine biology, psychology, and was undecided for a while. But after college, I couldn’t really find work in psychology, so I “fell” into an alternative licensure program for teaching.  Turns out, I was born and bred to be a teacher.

Who were the people who influenced you in your life? My parents.  My mom was a teacher and my dad an engineer, both great role models, valuing education and supporting me in all my efforts.  There are a few teachers too.

What do you teach and why did you want to teach that/those subject(s)?  I teach science, any kind.  I’ve had my own classroom before where I’ve taught all the subjects and I can pull it off, but I LOVE science.  The other subjects seem boring in comparison to me. I’m currently teaching chemistry and microbiology. There is a beauty and elegance to the Periodic Table.  It took me several years of chemistry before I saw it, but it is pure genius. For microbiology, I remember finding my first protist in honors biology when I was a senior.  I got really excited by that and have always loved using the microscope since.

What kind of student were you in high school?  I was a “cruise control” student.  Everything was pretty easy for me so I just cruised through.  Yearbook and honors biology were the first subjects to create a spark of interest.  Both helped me become who I am today.

What is the hardest part about teaching high school?  The hardest part about teaching is watching students make their own mistakes.  You want so badly to guide them, but sometimes you have to make your own mistakes to learn.

What do you like most about teaching?  It is great to see something “click” with a student; that moment when they actually “get it.”  But mostly I like being with students and helping them learn.

What makes ASK scholars different than other students?  ASK Scholars are more focused and driven.  In some ways they are more mature because they are thinking about their future.

What makes ASK different than other schools? ASK is special.  I’ve taught in a similar place in the past, but it has been many years.  Smaller class sizes is one benefit, which means a more personal educational experience.  But it is more than that. I think by being small, it gives more students more opportunities to shine.

What are your hobbies? Reading, family time, swimming.

Are you married? Do you have kids? No, divorced. I have 2 kids, Brian 16, Kailey 12

What has been the most profound experience you have had teaching this year?  I guess it was very early on in chemistry when I was teaching and everyone was getting it so easily.  I realized I had to pick up the pace because the students were like sponges and eating up what I was teaching.  Then, when I went to grade the first assignments and almost all of them were turned in. That is the positive side.  On the negative side, I had a student who was using drugs and I couldn’t help him (not at ASK), which was very frustrating.

What piece of advice would you give to scholars based on your knowing experience? To find what you are passionate about and spend your life pursuing that passion, then it isn’t work, but fun. Also, pick a major you can get a job in, something marketable.

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