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Op-ed by McDaniel College President, Dr. Roger Casey: Give teaching the respect it's due

The Baltimore Sun
November 17, 2016

Mark Twain believed the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why. I was born in rural South Carolina, the son of an auto mechanic and a homemaker. Thanks to great teachers and much-needed scholarships, I was the first member of my family to attend college — and it radically changed my life. Through the liberal arts, I delved into subjects I didn't know existed. I studied in other countries and developed a profound sense of the importance of diversity. Most of all, I figured out "the why" of my life: I was born to teach.

Even now, as president of McDaniel College in Westminster, I am proud to say I am first and foremost a teacher. Unfortunately though, teaching today — especially teaching pre-K through 12th grades — is not always viewed as a lofty career goal. According to UCLA's annual survey of students entering college, those with an interest in teaching has reached its lowest percentage in the past 45 years: less than 5 percent.

Michelle Shearer, a former national teacher of the year, recalls that as a high-achieving chemistry major at an Ivy League university, she was pressured to become "something more." Despite this, Ms. Shearer, who earned a master's degree in deaf education from McDaniel, became a high school chemistry teacher. As a teacher, she engages students who have been traditionally underrepresented in scientific fields, including students of color, women and those with special needs. She even taught Advanced Placement chemistry in American Sign Language at the Maryland School for the Deaf for the first time in the school's history.