Decades ago she walked the hallways of Norton Park Elementary School as a first grader. Today, Academic Coach Mary McDonnell educates Norton Park students like she once was. McDonnell’s impact on one student led to her being named the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week August 18..
“I chose Ms. McDonnell because she was my first teacher at [Norton Park],” fifth grader Alexa explained. “When I was below [grade] level, she helped me. We bonded. She is my favorite teacher.”
Alexa was a student in McDonnell’s first class at Norton Park. The school’s Phenomenal Teacher, who is in her fourteenth year in education, tries to build a rapport with students. She tries to make learning fun. McDonnell makes it easy for students like Alexa to talk to her.
“We talked a lot. I love to talk,” Alexa added. “I know her favorite color and favorite book. [Ms. McDonnell] loves ladybugs. I think I made something for her with a ladybug.”
Despite all the classroom fun, sometimes students need extra help, and Ms. McDonnell freely gives it.
“When there was a student who needed help and didn’t understand, she would always explain it to them,” Alexa recalled of her time in McDonnell’s first grade class. “She would be nice and kind and patient with them.”
Alexa hopes her former teacher never forgets the day she named her the Phenomenal Friday Teacher of the Week. The announcement certainly surprised McDonnell, who thought all the Friday excitement revolved around another Norton Park academic coach. She even thought the she was being clever filming the other educator as Alexa talked about the Norton Park teacher who had made her the most successful.
“I was very honored that she would choose me out of all the teachers [at Norton Park] because we have wonderful teachers here,” McDonnell said. “It reminds you of the why you do what you do and the long hours you put in. It is worth it. The children are the reason we are here.”
McDonnell attended Norton Park as a student from first through third grade. After teaching at Milford Elementary School, McDonnell returned to her roots at Norton Park. Although she started at the school as a teacher, she is now able to help both students and teachers in her role as an academic coach.
“It is a good feeling to know that I have an impact on the school that I went to and the community in which I lived and grew up in,” the Phenomenal Teacher shared.
Watch video of the Phenomenal Friday celebration at Norton Park Elementary School: http://goo.gl/ypppXe
Learn about what makes the other Phenomenal Friday Teachers of the Week stand out at their schools: http://goo.gl/Eg31Wc