Much more than a fist-bump


Photo from @raiderswhoarereaders instagram page

Meghan Donnelley and Rae Costanzo showing off their passion for reading during twin day.

Mariah Martinez

This article is part of a series of Teacher Spotlight articles about educators who create a difference in their classrooms.

For Meghan Donnelley, there was more than one reason to become a teacher. As a child, she loved writing and loved reading. She wanted to grow up and become a teacher that was “interesting” and not so “stuck up.” Donnelley wanted to interest her students by reading more relevant material.

“I wanted to visually have a cooler English teacher” When she got into college, she realized that she did not want to study educational classes but was more focused on English literature and language. Putting aside an education degree, she focused on English soon after becoming interested in working for the school newspaper at Texas A&M.

After college, she continued her passion for the newspaper in a smaller community, Midland, and in Nacogdoches. She had come to learn that she loved being a part of the newsroom but did not love the hours. As a new mother, she did not want to give up her holidays, and so she went back to the idea of teaching. Donnelley continues her studies at SFA through the graduate program.

“I got the job at Northbrook High School, and I’m so happy here” It also goes back to her original thinking of being wanting to have a teacher that is more in tune with the modern world. To her, “journalism helped” because it allowed her to see “how the English language is practical.”

“I was so in touch with my love of literature, and the classics that I know were instilled in my education.””

Donnelly’s classroom intensely relies on procedures for her classroom to run smoothly. She has a fantastic time greeting her students as they come in, which she took in by her colleague, Javier Martinez.

“I really do like shaking the kids’ hands or fist-bumping, or waving, just some sort of acknowledgment eye contact, but that shows that you know that I am here for you and that just to greet them with respect.” Respect for Donnelly is a crucial foundation for her classroom. She believes in giving the students a voice and listening to them, leading back to respect being a part of her teaching.

“It’s cool that she tries to interact and gets to know us, instead of immediately following with the lecture,” says Damian Estrada Blanco, junior at Northbrook High School.

In this new time, connecting lessons to the real world is a necessity. Donnelley feels that because of her experience in journalism when it comes to rhetorical analysis of “a really old speech,” it might be hard for some students, so instead, she chooses a “more contemporary piece.” Such as an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speech and then transfer to something older like Sojourner Truth, so now “we’re looking at the 1800, but it’s still some of the same issues.”

Assessing students can vary differently because everybody is not the same. So not only does the English 3 team planning have common assessments, which her teammate Coach Mealey does a pretty good job of coming up with.

She is opinionated about students being in the classroom instead of “a lot of blank screen door ceiling fans.”

So every day, she asks the students, “what do you remember from yesterday?” and that’s a critical indication that maybe I didn’t feel well or perhaps they didn’t get this concept so well.

Teaching at Northbrook is not only a responsibility, but also a privilege. When Donnelley left Katy to move back to Houston, it was an easy transition because her parents worked in Spring Branch. She enjoys the community, and because of the stories she had heard from her parents, she was more than thrilled when she received an offer from Northbrook.

In today’s society, teachers have the conception that education is a pillar of democracy. To Donnelley, standardized testing is a “threat to this idea.” Administering these tests rather than the ideas and concepts so “crucial to education” compartmentalizes students’ skills.

An essential aspect that Donnelley found out about her first year teaching is that she never thought that she would laugh so much as a teacher. “The students bring me a lot of joy,” and it’s how they interpret things differently. “How we laugh at the class, how we find joy as a cost because every student is different.” There are so many different personalities in the room, and so she enjoys the interaction and how the students come.

“She’s very calm and patient with us, she knows that we have other classes, and she really thinks about our time and duties outside of school. She knows we have a life outside of school,” Estrada Blanco said.