Meaningful classes define history teacher’s goal

by Beth Keefe, Managing Editor

“You’re all bright kids,” a smiling history teacher says to his class as they move into groups.

The above is an encouraging phrase that History and Documentary Film teacher  Paul McCrary says often to help his students remember that they can do anything they set their minds to.

McCrary grew up in South Jersey and attended Overbrook Regional High School. He played Nose tackle on the school’s football team, “In eighth grade the gym teachers went around and asked kids and I said ‘okay I’ll try it,’” McCrary said.

Along with playing football, McCrary also began wrestling during his freshman year, “I actually liked wrestling more because it was more individualized. It all depends on you whether you won or lost, where as in football you could have a great day and if somebody else messed up then that’s it. You don’t see the fruits of your own labor,” said McCrary.

In elementary school, McCrary decided that he had a real knack for history.

“I always liked to read as a little kid. I liked to hear stories. I just think hearing the stories about knights and the Romans and all that kind of stuff made me really into it,” said McCrary.

McCrary also enjoyed English class while growing up, however he was much better at writing for history as opposed to English.

This year, McCrary teaches both US History II and Documentary Film. Out of those two, McCrary enjoys teaching US II more.

“US II is fun because it’s all stuff you guys haven’t learned yet,” said McCrary.

Although he enjoys history a little more, he does find a lot of pleasure in teaching Documentary Film as well.

“We were looking for a different kind of course that kids could take, like some of the more artistic kids to take an elective academic course where it wouldn’t be just history again,” McCrary said. “Documentary is so big, there’s so much to talk about and so much to watch. There are funny ones, there are serious ones, there are sad ones, and there are ones that are on TV. It really goes the whole gamut and its fun.”

Being with the Glen Rock school district for 15 years, McCrary has grown very close to his colleagues.

“I think we [the history department] all realize everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and we’re willing to help each other,” McCrary said. “Plus were all a little bit weird and that kind of makes it work because we all have our own idiosyncrasies.”

A few years ago, McCrary had his first child William. Not long after, he had his second child, Olivia, “It’s been great to have kids, it’s awesome,” said McCrary.

I have to make sure that everything that you get actually has a purpose and isn’t just there to fill a box in.

— Paul McCrary, teacher

However, after the birth of his children, his teaching life also changed, “I used to be able to get a lot more done and not think about whether it mattered. But now that I have less time, I make sure everything matters that I give you guys.”

“He really engages the students and makes them put in the time and effort to bring out the best student they possibly can be,” Max Felsenstein, junior, said.

McCrary tries his best to not just give his students ‘busy work’ during class.

“I hate to give you work just to give you work because then I have to grade it and I don’t always have time,” McCrary said.

McCrary is very passionate about the work he does here at GRHS and wants the best for his students. He knows that all students have potential and he wants them to strive for the best.

“I have to make sure that everything that you get actually has a purpose and isn’t just there to fill a box in,” McCrary said. “So it’s [having kids] actually made me better at giving you guys work that actually means something to you as opposed to just giving 10 assignments, and an essay.”

McCrary hopes that all of the lessons he teaches his students have a meaning to them and an effect on them.

Many enjoy McCrary’s class on account he keeps the class lively and it isn’t just another history lesson.

“I try and switch stuff up, like we do different activities, we do simulations. I like to get you guys discussing stuff,” McCrary said. “You guys have a lot of good opinions, you’re all bright kids, and you all care about stuff.”

“Mr. McCrary isn’t only a good teacher and makes class fun, he also has a great fashion sense,” Zach Mulcahy said.

Group activities and partner work are things McCrary enjoys doing a lot during his lessons.

“I just try to get everyone involved. Even if they don’t like to talk, I make sure that, when we do group stuff, they can talk in the group,” McCrary said.

McCrary’s favorite part about working at Glen Rock and being a teacher is his students. He loves the joy his students get out of learning something new every day.