Staff Spotlight: Meg McElwain

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mcelwain_pictureSocial Studies teacher Meg McElwain is an experienced teacher with four years of classroom experience. A TeachNola alum and native New Orleanian, McElwain joined Akili Academy in 2011 as a Kindergarten teacher. She currently teaches fifth and sixth grade and serves as a grade-level leader. She is a graduate of Tulane University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in History.

When asked what appealed to her about teaching as a career, McElwain said she was excited about the opportunity to make a difference in the community. “I  knew that I would be able to make the greatest impact on the city of New Orleans by becoming an educator,” she said. “I enjoyed volunteering and tutoring at charter schools during college and looked forward to sharing my love of history with scholars.”

McElwain said her favorite moments in the classroom are when scholars find the commonalities they share with people of other cultures and countries. “I absolutely love watching them learn new and exciting things every day,” she said. “They are so fascinated to discover how we are at once so similar and so different from the people we study.”

In reflecting upon the rewards and challenges of being a teacher, McElwain said it is always a balancing act to celebrate accomplishments while maintaining a keen focus on the work toward academic gains. “The most rewarding part about being a teacher is celebrating successes with my students, whether it is a good grade on a quiz or a major milestone in their life. It is amazing when they are proud of their accomplishments,” she said. “But the most challenging thing about working in education is the enormity of the issues we face. It can be overwhelming to think about how much ground we have to cover in such a short amount of time.”

McElwain attributes her growth as a teacher and her desire to continue to work in New Orleans to the strong bonds she has forged with her peers at Akili. “Working at Akili has helped me gain confidence as a teacher,” she said. “I feel so supported by my colleagues, leaders, and students. We really are a big family.”