MAS Law would like to celebrate Sarah McNeill, our newest MASter Teacher Award recipient. After having the privilege to sit down with Miss McNeill, there is no question as to why she was nominated by so many of her students. Throughout her over seven years of teaching at Preston Hollow Elementary, located in Dallas, TX, her ability to inspire and create new and inventive ways to relate to her students and their families is the epitome of what constitutes an excellent educator.
Walking into the classroom every day, Miss McNeill relishes the opportunity to inspire her students. Often, this involves teaching them to think creatively about questions or issues that they face. “To become a lawyer or a doctor,” Miss McNeill says, “you can’t look at a problem as is; you have to look at it like a ball of yarn and figure out the story behind all of it.”
Teaching kindergarten and first grade, one of Miss McNeill’s many goals is to teach her students that learning is fun. She believes this to be paramount, especially at such a young age. “With the littles,” Miss McNeill affectionately calls the younger grades, “we are teaching them how to be humans. We are teaching them empathy, how to use conflict resolution, and everyday things that will sculpt their future.”
Prior to becoming the educator she is today, as a student, Miss McNeill faced adversity: she had a speech impediment and a difficult time reading. Thanks to some amazing teachers that Miss McNeill had throughout her education, she was able to overcome her insecurities, instilled with the knowledge of the effect that an educator can have on their students’ future.
She continues this frame of mind with her own students, always coming up with new ways to connect with them and their families, realizing that her duty as an educator does not end in the classroom. This mentality proved to be invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 changed everything,” says Miss McNeill, “from being in the school’s classroom to being at home in a virtual classroom, from an above average amount of messages with the students’ parents to over 1,700 messages to keep them up to date with everything.” The pandemic brought with it an ever-changing educational environment that educators would have to adapt to in order to teach effectively. A difficult task for any teacher, but one that Miss McNeill proved more than capable of.
With a class that was a combination of kindergarten and first grade, both online and in person, Miss McNeill saw an opportunity to create new and inventive ways to reach her students, saying “watching the kindergarteners faces thinking they are first graders, and the first graders helping the kindergarteners with their work, it made it a brand-new experience for the kids and me, both!”
It was truly an honor to visit with Miss McNeill. The opportunity to meet an educator who has impacted the lives of so many of her students was an amazing experience that I will not soon forget. I am reminded of one of my own teachers that had a similar effect on me, and that is why I am so happy to meet these amazing educators that do so much for our community while asking for so little in return. Once again, thank you so much Sarah McNeill for everything you have done for this community, and it was a pleasure getting to know you.
To nominate a teacher that has made an impact on your life, please visit us at www.mas.law/master-teacher/.