The Out-of-Door Academy second-grade teacher Sean McDonald didn’t expect to live in sunny Florida. In fact, he didn’t expect to be a teacher, but he discovered his passion for teaching when he took courses in childhood education while studying pediatrics at Webster University in St. Louis.
McDonald met ODA headmaster David Mahler in 2004 at an ODA cocktail party while he was vacationing in Sarasota, and has been teaching at the school ever since.
“I fell in love with (teaching),” McDonald says. “I struggled and had a tough school experience myself, and thought, ‘maybe I can give back and make kids like school just a little bit.’”
McDonald’s second-graders like school more than just a little bit. Every day after lunch, McDonald reads a book to his students. The children had become so invested in the book they were reading that they were upset they could not hear the story during their spring break, so McDonald filmed himself reading a chapter and posted it to YouTube so students could follow along during their vacation.
McDonald strives to keep students involved by making learning fun. He encourages them to blog to on kidblog.org, a safe website and online classroom that allows teachers to track how much time students are spending on homework and which websites students visit to research their assignments.
He says his students don’t complain about their homework anymore.
“I see kids spending an hour or more on (homework) because they are enjoying it now,” says McDonald.
McDonald volunteers at least 10 hours a week at Big Brothers Big Sisters and ALSO Out Youth, a non-profit support group for LGBT youth. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in child psychology.