Class of 2014: After Transferring to U.Va., McDonald Found His Place at the Curry School


Sean McDonald
Hometown: Potomac, MD
Master of Teaching, Teacher Education
Secondary Social Studies and Special Education

Why did you come to the Curry School?
I came to the Curry School because I heard great things about the tremendous support and opportunities that the Curry School affords its students. When I received conditional acceptance and started taking classes in Curry, my experiences with the faculty affirmed this notion. The professors in the Curry School are wonderful at balancing their research work with teaching and student support. After spending a good part of my second year at U.Va. feeling isolated, I greatly appreciated the genuine care that Curry professors have for their students.

What is unique about your journey to or your journey while at the Curry School?
I came to the Curry School after a long journey of uncertainty and self-reflection that eventually led me to education. I transferred to U.Va. from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. I absolutely loved my freshman year, but had to leave due to financial reasons. During my second year at U.Va., I had a difficult time adjusting both academically and socially. Emerging challenges with my family at home made the situation tougher. In addition, I realized that, while I enjoyed studying the social sciences of law, I did not truly have a passion for it.

After my second year, I took the summer to self-reflect on what I really wanted to do for my career. Education had always been a strong interest of mine, yet I never sat down to think about why. During that summer, I realized I was having trouble finding my identity as a young adult because I took so long to discover my true passions as a kid. Therefore, this profession was appealing to me because it allowed me the opportunity to connect with young people in a meaningful way by providing them a multitude of opportunities to find their life passions and helping to guide them towards finding their identities.

If you can name one person, who at Curry made a special impact during your studies and how?
I cannot name just one person at Curry because I had two people that made special impacts during my studies: Dr. Stephanie Van Hover and Dr. John Lloyd- professors in the social studies department and special education department, respectively. I transferred in to the Curry School almost a year later than my colleagues. However, Dr. Van Hover and Dr. Lloyd worked tirelessly to help me manage my course credits in a way that put me in a position to graduate on time in the BA/MT program. In addition, they are phenomenal teachers with a wealth of knowledge and experiences in well-founded, effective teaching practices that have helped me develop as a future educator.

What will you be doing next?
Next fall, I will be teaching at Buford Middle School in Charlottesville City Schools. I will be working with 8th Grade Civics as a Social Studies/Special Education co-teacher. I am very excited for this opportunity.