Each day during Teacher Appreciation Week, Spectrum is sharing a teacher’s story and how they view the work of Adventist education.
Kevin McCarty is a middle school teacher in British Columbia, Canada.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what inspired you to become a teacher?
I grew up in Kelowna, B.C., which involves a lot of beach days and sunburns. I’m the youngest of three, with both parents being Adventist teachers. My father taught high school sciences and my mother teaches preschool; this has led to me literally growing up in school. In fact, my mother was pregnant with me while finishing her ECE certification, so my concept of time has always been based on school years. This family context showed me what a teacher’s life is like, and through hearing my parents’ stories, I was able to become familiar with education from an early age.
My high school teachers and experiences are what brought me into becoming a teacher myself. I have a list of names posted above my desk that I described as my “teaching heritage” as a reminder to why I wanted to teach. I pull inspiration from my former instructors and educators, to pass on the blessings they have given me. This has become the core of my own teaching practice, to pass on what was so freely given to me.
How long have you been teaching, and what subjects and grade levels do you specialize in?
I am finishing up my second year of full-time teaching. Before that, I was still involved in schools as both an educational assistant and youth worker. My subject specialties are in social studies, religious studies, and special needs education. I teach mainly in middle school for grades 6/7, along with high school Bible class, while also being the assistant athletic director.
Why did you choose to work in Adventist education? What do you appreciate most about it?
Adventist education has been a part of my life from day one. I love the opportunity I have to give back to the educational system that has given me so much. What I appreciate most is that in my conference, we have a large focus on sports tournaments for the schools. I grew up playing in them and now I get to help lead out and see my students playing in them. Our yearly sport weekends bring together hundreds of students that get to make lifelong friends, just like I did.
How do you balance your personal life with your teaching responsibilities?
Saying “no” is very important, along with realizing that there’s never enough time to finish all the paperwork. Being able to prioritize is what has kept my life-work balance healthy. Stress management is also key. I do this through physical exercises and guarding my Sabbaths from becoming another workday at a local church. By keeping as much as I can to workday hours, besides marking and some planning, I can separate work from personal time.
How do you stay motivated and inspired as a teacher, especially during challenging times?
Coworkers are a big source of motivation and support. They are the ones there for you during those times when parents or administration are breathing down your neck. Of course, the students themselves pull you into wanting to do your best—especially when you know them on a personal level and cannot wait to show them the plans and activities you have planned. I take great pride in my students doing well and excelling in their work. As a middle school teacher, I get to see this result as students move on to high school and from what their next set of teachers share back to me. That’s what it really all comes down to, caring enough about students to see them grow into someone awesome.
Raquel Mentor is the associate digital editor for Spectrum.
Photo courtesy of Kevin McCarty.
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