From MCLA's classrooms to one of his own


Jesse McMillan '14 of Greenfield, Mass., doesn't need to embark on a job search. He walked across the Commencement stage last Saturday knowing he'd already found the job he'd been working toward throughout his college career.

Next fall, he'll find himself in familiar surroundings as he teaches high school English at Hoosac Valley Middle and High School in Cheshire, Mass. - just a short walk from where he was a student teacher to sixth grade English students this semester.

"Knowing that I have a job is a huge weight off of my shoulders," McMillan said. "First, it was all about focusing on my four years of undergraduate classes. That was a success. Next, it was focusing on my student teaching semester. That was a success. Thereafter, it was focusing on creating a resume, cover letter, and submitting applications. That was a success. Finally, it was all about the interview process and waiting for the final word."

In addition to teaching at Hoosac Valley, McMillan had field placement experiences during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters at Clarksburg Elementary School and Greylock Elementary School, respectively. Other experience includes work as a program coordinator for students at risk of dropping out of North Adams Public Schools, and as a teaching assistant at MCLA.

"I have had the pleasure to work with many professors here at MCLA. I have definitely enjoyed the conversations we've had in my education classes revolving around curriculum development, instruction, assessment, various theories, etc.," he said.  

"We have extremely educated and powerful leaders on this campus, and they can make a difference in your life forever, like they have in mine," McMillan added.

Originally, McMillan planned to attend Castleton State College in Vermont. "But my guidance counselor provided me more information about MCLA a few months before my high school graduation. After visiting UMASS-Amherst, Castleton and MCLA, I knew that this campus and community was going to be the best fit for me.

"I'll never forget that when I came on my first tour at MCLA, one of the admission ambassadors said that you have the opportunity to become a big fish in a small pond," he continued. "This is certainly true as I feel as though I have made more of an impact here, and MCLA has had more of an impact on me than I would have at a larger university."

McMillan said MCLA's small class sizes and the opportunity to build professional relationships with his professors appealed to him more than large class sizes where he felt he would be "just a number."

"MCLA is the perfect place for aspiring teachers because the environment and opportunities that are provided for us here is exactly what we need in our public schools: access, discovery and understanding, leadership, critical thinking, global awareness, experimentation and creativity."

Besides feeling as though he's in his "natural element" when he enters a classroom, McMillan said his teaching style reflects the objectives of today's schools. "I feel it is my goal to communicate the pleasure and comfort when delving into a piece of literature or reading essays, speeches, personal journal entries, or a short stories.

"I do recognize; however, that not everything will be comfortable at first," McMillan said. "Even though my reasons for wanting to teach are changing, I keep finding in each of those reasons a fresh motive for returning to the classroom with renewed interest."