Meet the Teacher: Rory McLaughlin, Brandywine Middle/High School

Educators are perhaps the greatest population of unsung heroes in Berrien and Cass County. This school year, Leader Publications will publish a weekly spotlight featuring teachers throughout the district, giving the community a chance to get to know the hard-working individuals shaping their children’s lives. Throughout the next school year, their answers will be published in the newspaper that serves each school district.

Name: Rory McLaughlin

School: Brandywine Middle/High School

Grade(s)/subject(s) taught: Visual Arts. 7th-12th.

Where did you attend college? Central Michigan University

How many years have you been teaching? I have been teaching for 14 years; all of which have been at Brandywine.

Why did you decide to become a teacher? From an early age, I enjoyed creating drawings and paintings, and knew that I wanted to make art a major focus in my life. During my junior and senior years in high school, I considered many occupations that would allow me to both continue creating works of art and share my knowledge of the visual arts with others; but entered college still undecided. While at CMU, I was inspired by one of my art professors, Brian Sailer, to pursue a career as a visual arts educator. His teaching style — which encouraged creating choice-based projects and the freedom to express individual ideas and beliefs through your work, along with his enthusiasm for creating art were things I admired greatly. He had good taste in music too. Thanks, Brian.

Outside of school, what do you enjoy doing for fun? Finding cool coffee shops and hanging out in them with my wife. Spending time with my mom and dad in Holland, Michigan, where I grew up. I also enjoy: working out at Anytime Fitness here in Niles, watching live music, taking day/weekend trips to “Harbor Country” (Union Pier, Three Oaks, New Buffalo), and taking in a South Bend Cubs or Chicago Cubs game.

What is one thing your students may not know about you? Even though I was a drummer, my favorite Beatle is Paul.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Neville Longbottom. For the majority of the Harry Potter books (as well as the films), he may not have been one of the most popular of students at Hogwarts, but he was a kind and loyal friend to those that accepted him. In the end, he was brave enough to stand up for what he believed was right and good — putting the lives of those he loved before his own.

When you were a student in the grade you teach, what were your favorite hobbies? Painting, drawing, and playing the drums.

How would your co-workers describe your teaching style and personality? I would guess that my co-workers would describe my teaching style as interactive. I don’t like to spend a lot of time up in front of the class lecturing. I prefer to be circulating around the classroom, talking with my students, getting to know them and helping them improve their works of art. As far as my personality, my co-workers might describe me as quiet, friendly, and “artsy.”

Who is your biggest role model and why? I can’t say that I have a “biggest role model.” I would say that I have been fortunate enough to have had several role models in life. My mom, dad, sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, along with my wife have all had a hand in shaping the person I am; and I think I turned out pretty good!

How has education changed in the last 10 years? The rise in the amount and variety of CTE and vocational courses offered to students has been a big, positive change. Also, the opportunity for students to enroll in college courses while still attending high school. There has also been an increase in the technology available to students in the classroom.

What is your best advice to parents to help their child continue growing academically? Be an advocate for education. Be a partner with the teacher to ensure their child is completing the required work both in class as well as at home, if need be. Know that the teachers at Brandywine Community Schools want your child to succeed and we need your help to make that happen.

If my students learn one thing this year, I hope it is… Effort takes no talent.

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