Elon alum nominated for National LifeChanger of the Year Award
Mark McCann '01 is among a handful of educators from New Jersey to be nominated this year for the award.
Elon alum Mark McCann '01 has been nominated for the national Life Changer of the Year Award, an award that recognizes extraordinary K-12 educators, teachers and administrators who have positively impacted their school. After graduating from Elon in 2001 with a bachelor of arts in elementary education, McCann began his career in education, currently working in Burlington City, New Jersey.
At Wilbur Watts Intermediate School, McCann is not only a teacher, but also a coach, mentor, and friend to his students. He coaches the girls varsity basketball team at the high school, leads Steps to Success, an after-school tutoring program and teaches basic-skills as well as gifted and talented students. He has made a difference in the lives of his students by engaging with them on both academic and personal levels. He realizes that a student’s personal well-being can affect their academic ability, so he makes sure that basic needs are met for all students.
In his award nomination, Principal Robert Shappell states, “As educators, we have an awesome responsibility. We shape young minds. We teach beyond the Common Core, but to the human core. No one does that better than Mark.”
McCann’s positive impact on students is particularly visible through his interactions with one specific student who had missed over 40 days of school because of problems at home, according to his nomination. Although the school had tried to contact the student’s parents, child protective services and police for help, McCann was the one to truly make a difference for this child. In addition to meeting the student’s physical needs, McCann tutored the student after school every day, providing clean clothes and meals in the process.
As a result, the student has found a new group of friends and is passing all of their classes. McCann acted as a Life Changer for this particular student and this experience has inspired him to find other students who need individual instruction. He now tutors a small group of boys after school who are showing remarkable academic improvements.
According to Shappell, McCann does not impact students for his personal recognition but he truly aims to affect the students he cares about. Both students and staff want to be around him because he is the type of person that encourages everyone around him and gives them extra confidence.
McCann is one of 24 educators in New Jersey to be nominated for the national LifeChanger Award and if selected as one of the 15 nationwide educators, he and his school will receive a cash prize. McCann plans to use the personal cash prize to buy new uniforms for the basketball team.
The LifeChanger of the Year Award is a program by National Life Group, an insurance and financial company based in Vermont.