By Alexis Rodia, Breanna Andreassi, and Callie Ross
One of the familiar faces at Bird Middle School for the last 30 years will not be returning in September. Thomas “T Mac” McDonnell of the Bird Middle School Social Studies department will retire at the end of this school year.
During his years as a teacher, McDonnell brought his passion for history alongside his famous humor to the hallways as well as his classroom. His aptitude for bringing personality to his job will be missed by students and faculty alike.
“When someone comes along who can make you laugh… that’s worth more than anything,” said fellow Social Studies teacher Lisa Goldman.
Since arriving at BMS in 1987, McDonnell has been teaching social studies to seventh and eighth graders ever since. History had always been McDonnell’s favorite subject.
“I grew up in a house with books and my parents were both readers and they had a lot of history,” said McDonnell. This upbringing led to one of his favorite classroom mantras that he reiterated to all of his classes: “Reading is the height of everything.”
With his constant jokes and funny anecdotes, McDonnell keeps his students engaged at all times. Avoiding technology, he prefers traditional styles of instruction such as teacher-guided discussions and memorization to help students learn.
Walpole High School sophomore Grace Abely, former student of McDonnell’s for two years said, “T Mac is one of my favorite teachers. I still remember the lines from the Declaration of Independence we had to memorize.”
McDonnell is looking forward to having mornings to himself.
“I intend for the first six months to relax- to have two cups of coffee and read both newspapers until I’m finished,” he said. As well as indulging in these simple pleasures, McDonnell also wants to visit Italy for a stretch of time, so he can practice his Italian, a language he has been learning during recent years.
A devoted educator known for friendliness and brilliance, McDonnell left a lasting impression with his students and peers.
“I’m pretty confident that I must’ve done some good somewhere to someone,” he said.
In fact, his replacement for the 2017-2018 school year is his own past student, Tim Clifford.
Throughout his career, McDonnell has not only positively impacted students, but he has also found joy in his position himself.
McDonnell said, “That if you can get a job that you like you’re going to be happy…it’s the key of loving what you do.”