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Teacher of the Week: Mackenzie McClarney from Jacksonville Commons Middle School

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 8:37 AM EDT
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ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WITN) - This week’s Teacher of the Week for November 3 is Mackenzie McClarney from Jacksonville Commons Middle School.

McClarney is an adaptive special education teacher. She began her teaching career in Craven County before transitioning to Onslow County, where she has taught for the last four years.

She received her undergraduate degree in special education (K-12) and elementary education at the University of Evansville in Indiana. Shortly after graduating, McClarney moved to North Carolina to be closer to her family and the beach. She is currently in her last year of graduate school at ECU pursuing a Masters of Special Education with a concentration in Intellectual Disabilities and Exceptional Children Administration.

McClarney says, “I truly love coming to school every day, as I am to help students see their abilities and find their place in modern society. I believe that to foster a more inclusive world, we must understand how individuals (like the one inside my classroom) think.” She says they teach her things everyday and some of her favorite classroom lessons include working in the garden or running the “Knight and Day Coffee Shoppe” business at the school.

When she’s not in the classroom, you can find McClarney coaching the cheerleading team and lifeguarding in Emerald Isle.

The person who nominated Ms. McClarney wrote, “I would like to nominate Mackenzie McClarney for Teacher of the Week. Ms. McClarney is an EC teacher at Jacksonville Commons Middle School in Jacksonville, NC. This is her 2nd year at JCMC, however she taught 2 years prior to that at Tucker Creek Middle School in Craven County.

She has a dual degree in Elementary Education and Special Education K-12 from the University of Evansville, and is currently a grad student at ECU pursuing her Masters Degree in Special Education with a concentration on mild intellectual disabilities.

Mackenzie goes out of her way to make each student feel special. She starts their day out with “free time” in the gym, where you might just find her riding scooters with them or running and playing tag. The kids LOVE her and she LOVES them equally. Each student is important to her and she gets to know them as an individual and their needs are important to her. She is constantly trying to find new ideas that work for them as individuals. At the end of last school year, she was able to get a classroom “garden” built and 100% donated by local businesses. This year she is trying to expand that idea into a grant and build upon it and have an actual greenhouse for her students to be able to grow things year around.

Mackenzie also finds time to coach the cheerleading team. This is near and dear to her heart, because Mackenzie herself grew up cheerleading her entire life, and in college was the captain of her cheerleading team. When she was at Tucker Creek Middle School she also coached the girls track team, and they won the county championship the year she coached. (Mackenzie was also a Cross Country runner all through high school as well, and a sectional champion)

She started volunteering and helping with special needs students when she was in jr/sr high. Her track coach helped her get interested in helping students with the Special Olympics. She has never looked back, and has never changed her focus on what she wanted to do with her life. She has been an advocate for special needs students ever since.

In addition, Ms. McClarney also finds time in the summer to be the Lifeguard Supervisor on Emerald Isle. She begins work on the island on Spring Break on the weekends, and then full time once school is out for the summer and continues until Labor Day. So she is working every weekend currently on the beaches still even though school is back in session.

Ms. McClarney spends any chance she can get volunteering for special needs activities in the water. Those are activities that she thoroughly enjoys and can help educate the community.”

Congratulations Ms. McClarney!

Every week during the school year WITN will recognize a Teacher of the Week on WITN News at Sunrise. The winner receives a plaque and $100 gift card for school supplies.

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