VERDE VALLEY EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK: Klint McKean
A funny thing happened on the way to a career in finance.
Klint McKean couldn’t surrender his love of words.
At Arizona State University in 2004, McKean was “slugging away in business classes and an internship that I dreaded.”
But it was his job as an after-school tutor that helped him realize that a business career was no business for him.
Genie Gee, his new principal at Mingus Union High School, is happy that McKean decided to become an English teacher.
“I wish I could be in Klint McKean’s English class every day,” Gee says. “His classroom environment is rich with literature and critical thinking; students are engaged with the material and one another.”
To Gee, one of the “marks of a master teacher” is the ability to engage pupils in thinking about how they think and encouraging them to explain their thought processes.
“Mr. McKean activates prior knowledge, builds on it, and motivates students to think and produce content at the collegiate level,” Gee says. “Not only is Mr. McKean a fantastic teacher and motivating, committed wrestling coach, he is also a poet, a wordsmith, a family man, and a soulful human being. Klint writes and speaks so eloquently and his talents are often used to praise others; he is our Poet Laureate … and we couldn’t be prouder.”
Teaching dual-enrollment English classes gives McKean the opportunity to teach the Mary Shelley novel ‘Frankenstein.’ If he wasn’t an English teacher, McKean says he’d be a writer, poet, filmmaker or travel show host … if he was “dreaming big.”
“Show, don’t tell. That’s a writing axiom that composition teachers tell their students, but often fail to show in our instruction. “I try my best to show, to model to my students the skills I want them to learn.”
“I have a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing-Poetry. I joke with my students that as a high school senior, I came out to all my jock friends that I was in love with poetry. They took it pretty well.”
“Teachers are idealists, me included. We want to foster respect and citizenship and civil discourse and critical thinking and on and on and on. But when it comes down to it, my focus is simply teaching my students to be better, more effective writers and readers. If I can do that, then I’m happy.”
Did you know?
“The ring-tailed lemur that smells the worst is in charge of the group.” I post a daily animal fact in my classroom. Sometimes it turns into a short discussion; sometimes not. But I am always surprised how much the students look forward to a new tidbit each day. Curiosity and discovery are contagious. There need not always be a lesson or posted objective for everything shared in a classroom.”
-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42