UHS Icon Mrs. McDonald Retires from Teaching Full Time

After teaching for thirty-four years, Ms. McDonald will be retiring from teaching full time. Although she is sad to stop being fully plugged into a particular place, she is ready to move onto the next phase of her life. I sat down with everyone’s favorite statistics teacher to learn about how teaching has affected her life and her plans for the future.

Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: Thirty-four years.

Q: What made you want to retire?

A: I feel as if there are phases to your life and the next phase of my life is to move out of being in the classroom all of the time and start doing things that are still related to education but where I am not, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, trapped between four walls. I am not going to be teaching full time, but I am still going to be teaching zero period statistics and I am hoping to get the good news that I am going to be teaching two classes at the U of A. Then, there are other things people want me to do that are ways to make a difference but I have more flexibility.

Q: What will you miss about teaching?

A: I guess what I will miss is being completely plugged into one particular place. Because I will only be here for one class, I won’t be completely plugged in. I am not going to lose any of the other great things about it. Teaching is like finding the fountain of youth. You are always connected to modern culture. My brothers and sisters, none of whom are teachers, they are still plugged into the ‘80s. I feel much more plugged in, and there is a sense of continuity to that culture because I’ve been a teacher.  

Q: What is one of the biggest challenges of being a teacher?

A: I think that the expectation that you are going to effect change on a class of students all by yourself without support has been one of the biggest challenges for any teacher throughout time. From the one room schoolhouse until today, the fact that you are the one and whenever someone wants to say “Hey, why isn’t it getting done?” they look at the one and say “It’s you.” The other challenges are waxes and wanes, the feeling that you are being pecked to death by chickens, but that goes away every time you have a weekend.    

Q: What is one of your most memorable experiences?

A: I had this young man when he was a freshman and when he was a senior, and I would say to students, “The most difficult time of your life is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three. You should should stop wishing your life away because it is not going to be super wonderful, and trust me, the decisions you make are going to change the course of your own history, so be very careful. Don’t abandon your support group, and realize when you go off to college crazy things happen.” Most of the time you don’t find out if kids ever look back on your advice, but a year later on my birthday he called me back and said, “I just wanted to tell you that I was so appreciative of what you said because I thought about it the whole year and you are absolutely correct.” He told me all about his life and how many changes had been happening just because of that one thing, and then he said thank you. Because he did that, I did not quit. It was about halfway through my career and I was fundamentally fatigued by all the stress. But because he called me, that was a decision he made that changed the trajectory of my life. So I think that is probably the biggest thing that happened in my career, but there are so many others. There is a whole pile of things just like that, all with people who call you and say, “you were right.”     

Q: How has teaching impacted your life?

A: It has made me a better listener, it has made me appreciate that there are other perspectives. I can stand in line and, even though it is irritating when the salesperson is not comfortable with the new process, I can be patient because I recognize that I am not the only one and there are other people. So I am a much better listener, and more patient. I was a much better parent than my spouse, and he will admit that because I got to practice on 6,000 children, instead of just three. I think there is no better way to be a parent than it is to be a teacher if you learn the lessons well. Like I said, I feel younger. I don’t mean that in the movie magazine way; I mean that I have a sense that I am not stuck, and that I can see the world as it is growing instead of just my little section.   

One Comment

  1. Mr. Gribble says:

    Mrs. McDonald is the best!

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