That unique spark
Michelle McCune's kindness impacts all she encounters
Waking up around six in the morning everyday to trudge to school is a battle endured by every high schooler; a battle most of us lose. The snooze button is smacked once (or twice), and when we finally get the urge to scurry out of the house, we find ourselves sitting in a classroom of 20 other students who endured this same struggle. And while our brains are still turning on and our focus is still in our daydreams, first hour can be hard.
If only there was a light at the end of the tunnel, a spark of energy at the peak of the race, a teacher who radiates joy before the sun does.
A teacher like Mrs. Michelle McCune.
Mrs. McCune is the AP Art History and Printmaking teacher here at Francis Howell Central and is widely known for her positivity and optimism. In a high school full of students who participate in several activities and advanced placement classes, Mrs. McCune is a teacher that understands the stress. She makes her classroom a safe place for students to have fun and learn simultaneously.
With artwork made by former students covering every square inch of brick wall, her classroom is like no other.
She is widely invested in her student’s lives as well. From the good to the bad, Mrs. McCune wants to know everything about her students. This includes projecting a student’s video of their ice skating performance on her smart board for the entire class to see, as well as listening to you tell her about your weekend on a Monday morning.
Ashleigh Bick Dawes, a junior in Mrs. McCune’s AP Art History class, views Mrs. McCune as the light to her day.
“She’s a very nice person, and she always makes you feel welcome… she really cares about you and you can always tell. She’s just happy to be here and see everyone’s faces,” Bick Dawes said.
And although Bick Dawes enjoys school, she, like several other students here at FHC, has moments where school sounds like a nuisance to your day and a waste of your time. When debating if school is worth her while, she remembers the smiling face of a teacher who cares.
“Sometimes, I’m sitting at home and I think, ‘I really don’t want to go to school.’ But I know that if I do, I’ll get to see Mrs. McCune … I like walking down the hallway so I can see her,” Bick Dawes said.
Bick Dawes is not the only student who has seen McCune in this light. Rishith Mishra, senior in Mrs. McCune’s first hour class, is inspired by her joy and positivity.
“One really great thing about her is her laugh. Her laugh makes you want to laugh with her, it’s contagious,” Mishra said.
He himself has noticed the several acts of kindness from Mrs. McCune for all of her students.
“She has a Keurig in her room that she lets students use, and she gives you mints. Also, she knows when students have big test weeks in all their classes, and she will let you go to the library and study when you’re stressed out,” Mishra said.
Mishra also remembers to take into account the individual attention Mrs. McCune has given to him.
“There was this one week when I was just really down and stressed out with family and school and I just talked to her about it. We went through everything and it really made me feel good after,” Mishra said.
That’s what Mrs. McCune does, isn’t it? She makes us feel good. From coffee/cocoa and mints, to help in stressful situations, Mrs. McCune goes to great lengths to make us feel the best we possibly can. Through a glance in her classroom, it is evident that she tries to make the most of even the simplest moments.
For example, a Friday to any student is full of mixed emotions. Yes, when the day is over, you can look forward to spending Saturday and Sunday the way you wish to; but that is only after eight long hours in the classroom.
To Mrs. McCune, a Friday is just a reason to celebrate.
“Give the person across from you a high five and say ‘Happy Friday!’,” Mrs. McCune said one day during class.
The high five was not done to help the students stay awake, or to teach the proper mechanics of a high five, but rather to simply spread happiness.
Happiness and joy can do several things for anyone who possesses it. Joy can improve your health, your interactions with others, and even your academics.
Experiments have been performed to show the truly positive effects of joy on success. Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania partnered with Patrick D. Quinn and performed a study in search for a correlation between academic success and happiness. After several trials throughout several age groups, they came to the conclusion that happiness helps academics and in return, academics help happiness.
As far as room 246, Mrs. McCune does everything possible to make her learning environment happy, educational, and safe. This includes, but is not limited to, her use of softly lighted lamps throughout the class to help make her room feel more like home.
“I’ve tried to create an environment in the classroom that is relaxed and comfortable and a safe place for students,” Mrs. McCune said. “I just try to keep it fresh, and keep them awake more than anything.”
Mrs. McCune is inspiring to all of her students; her happy energy flowing from person to person. The source of this energy, according to Mrs. McCune, comes from her family.
“I have a really strong family support system, and they’ve always been there from me. I have always felt a lot of love and happiness from the people that I’m around,” Mrs. McCune said.
Mrs. McCune is blessed with the family unit she has. Two children and supportive relatives, including a father who pursued the same career as her, inspires her to overcome any negativity and fill it with a more optimistic view.
Sadly, not all students are blessed with the family unit she has, but Mrs. McCune feels there are several different ways to stay positive throughout life.
“I have days that I’m not feeling that great or a little down, but I always try to think of something that is going to make me feel better. Sometimes it’s just talking to a friend or getting a Starbucks, or watching a TV show that makes me happy.”
Besides her students, Mrs. McCune also is an uplifting spirit towards her coworkers. Mr. Jeremy Winingham, Intro to Art and Digital Art & Design teacher, states that she is always genuinely happy. Her love for her job and what she does is inspiring to him.
“She loves the students. And I always tease her, saying that she rides a unicorn to work everyday. That shows you what her attitude is like,” Mr. Winingham said.
He also shares how other art teachers have been impacted by her as well.
“I think, just overall, she brings up the whole department. It’s like, no matter how sad or tired you’re feeling, she’s always so upbeat that it’s hard to not smile,” Mr. Winingham said.
For a world engulfed in negativity and disagreement, positivity can always be found in room 246.