‘It’s my calling’
Muncy math teacher spread postivity and encouragement
MUNCY — If positivity ruled the world, Elizabeth McClure, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Ward L. Myers Elementary School, would be its queen, in the best way possible.
Walking into her room, what catches your eye, amidst the science posters, are words of encouragement. Sayings like “dream big, sparkle more,” “throw kindness around like confetti” and “kind people are my kind of people,” hang on the walls next to a nod to math — “a piece of pi 3.1415.”
“My day involves doing the best I can to encourage my kids to feel loved and number one, to be good citizens when they leave this room. That’s my number one mission,” McClure said.
“They walk in and I have standards and goals that I need to meet. I do my darndest to meet them but I have to make sure they’re in a good place before we can even start those goals and missions,” she said. “I don’t know where they were the night before or what they had in the morning, I just want to be a light to them.”
McClure, who grew up in Greensburg, outside of Pittsburgh, credits her sixth-grade teacher with being the one who gave her the tools to be successful in high school.
She shared that when she was younger, she had a reading disability, which required that she go to a reading specialist.
“He (the teacher) worked with the reading teacher and gave my parents a lot of positive encouragement. I was really struggling and then he led me to the right direction in my middle school years so that I could be more successful in high school,” she said.
The influence of an aunt in Virginia, who was an educator, was a factor in her choice of a career. But, McClure admits that her reading disability was the major reason she became a teacher. She went to college and got her bachelor’s degree in teaching and then went on to get her master’s degree as a reading specialist.
“I felt like I was mastering my disability,” she admitted.
“I love reading, but I truly feel that my calling is math. I just love math. I love teaching math. I love algebra and pre-algebra and teaching the kids how to love math when they struggle,” she said.
Because her students are in their final year at the elementary level, McClure feels that they need to be leaders for the lower grades. Part of accomplishing that is working with the guidance counselor as a co-advisors for the student council.
“I think it’s always positive for them to be a light to the little ones. Even if they’re not on student council. I’ve always had the learning support students in my class, and we’ve always matched them up with my higher-ed kids. The amount of compassion that our kids have here in Muncy is just phenomenal,” she said.
“I have a little boy in a sling and one of the girls, without thinking, saw that he needed a drink. She took the cap off his water bottle and then she put the lid back on. I just kept on teaching. That’s what you want to teach them. That’s the good stuff to me,” she said.
McClure’s science block on this particular day was learning about genus and species of animals. The students had seen a short video, read in books, highlighted words, among other things.
“They love animals, so I found an article about domesticated and wild cats — super cute pictures,” she said. “They had to read the articles, list the genus and species of the animals, writing in italics and practicing writing the genus and species and listing two interesting facts from the article about each cat. They had to get on Google classroom, so they’re using technology to read the article.”
Although she is a newer hire, as she puts it, the curriculum at the school has changed twice during her tenure. As education has become more standard-based, a common complaint is that it’s geared to the test.
“Everybody talks about things geared toward to the test. I truly feel as if here I am included in on that. I think that’s valuable and important,” she said. “I don’t feel a lot of pressure to teach to the test. I feel like I teach my kids and that aligns with the test and my kids benefit from that. It just happens that they do well on the test.”
Although McClure has had some health problems and has gone through what she said was some “tough stuff,” teaching has been the constant in her life.
“It’s my calling, it’s what I love, it’s my purpose,” she said.