Major: Secondary Education: English with Teacher Licensure (9-12)
Year of Graduation: 2014
Professional Title: High School English Teacher
Connor McDade values the lasting relationships he formed during his time at Elon and encourages current students to “enjoy every moment” of their experience because “there are few places on earth that have the environment that Elon does.”
How did your Elon education help you navigate your career path?
“Throughout my time at Elon, I was able to pursue a balanced range of coursework that prepared me to excel as a classroom teacher, and specifically English coursework that helped me develop as a reader, scholar, and writer. I was fortunate enough to add in multiple philosophy courses as well, that I tapped into during my experience teaching Speech and Debate courses and coaching a debate team. As a whole, Elon’s experiential learning, caring mentors, and nurturing but challenging environment equipped me to be an advocate and leader in my school and community.”
“I was inspired to become a teacher by the fantastic teachers I was fortunate enough to learn from in school, and the professors I spent time with at Elon furthered that desire.”
What were your career goals when you first chose to study English?
“Unlike many who enter their undergraduate years, I knew what I wanted to do before entering. I had dreamed of becoming a high school English teacher since I was a sophomore in high school, when I benefited from extraordinary teachers who saw the best in me despite my disruptive, ‘class clown’ behavior. Elon’s Teaching Fellows program and School of Education helped ensure that I would pack my undergraduate years with rich and influential experiences, like observing several classrooms in the area and, eventually, full-time student teaching in the spring of my senior year, which left me prepared to join and lead in the workforce after graduation.”
What value did you find in your undergraduate degree?
“Realize that spending undergraduate years as an English major contributes to far more than just academic and professional growth. Skills and dispositions developed as an English major affect so many corners of our lives: our self-image, our concept of truth, our treatment of others, communication in our friendships and romantic relationships, respectful consideration of others’ opinions. Undergraduate years are dynamic and transformative for so many students, and exploring English along the way reinforces so many connections between academic content and the emotions we wrestle with each day. And as a personal word of advice, try out teaching if you ever get the chance, even in a small, casual setting; you just might love it.”
What was a valuable lesson you learned during your time at Elon?
“Elon taught me the true power of environment and relationships. What brought me to Elon was the sincere people, and because of that, the relationships I made at Elon bolster the legacy of an Elon education that I carry with me. I learned from watching my professors show grace and see the best in students. My experiences as an Orientation Leader my senior year showed me that if you construct a supportive, positive environment with the right passionate leaders, that anything is possible.”
“An English degree digs at the core of what it means to be human, and what humans can do to navigate life’s absurdities.”
What kind of hands-on experience did you have access to because of Elon?
“Elon’s School of Education and Teaching Fellows programs built in amazing real-world opportunities where I was able to observe and participate in experiential learning. Although I thought I was sure I wanted to teach high school, I benefited from internship experiences in a local middle school and elementary school, where I did my best not to break any furniture in the kindergarten classroom.”
“In order to fully understand the continuum of lifetime education, I also helped lead a literacy course at the local community college for adults learning English. I was even able to teach at a school in London during my semester there, which provided unbelievable insights into the international differences in education. Most proudly, my capstone internship (student teaching in the spring of my senior year) wound up introducing me to an amazing French teacher who I somehow convinced to marry me in 2018.”
Where are you now on your career path and what are some of your long-term goals?
“I am currently in my seventh year of teaching high school English in our local school system [ABSS]. My wife (also a teacher) and I live in a home just minutes from Elon’s gorgeous campus. This spring I will be completing my Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction, which should aid my growth as a teacher leader and educator diplomat. Ultimately, I dream of pursuing professorship in teacher education, to help prepare and mentor future teachers like so many of my mentors were able to do for me and my classmates.”