Name: Mac Phrommany
School district: USD 383 Manhattan -Ogden
City/State: Manhattan, KS
Class/content area taught:Debate, Forensics, ELA 11 – American Literature
What you are most excited about with your new career: I am looking forward to, and have enjoyed, being able to fully dedicate myself to serving my community.
What you enjoy most about teaching: I am enjoying seeing students be rewarded for investing in their passions. In coaching and teaching, I firmly believe any student can accomplish great things should they choose to do so. I am simply a catalyst for their ambitions. I tell my students, lacking passion bothers me more than anything else. If we are to do anything in our lives, we must do it with passion.
Ways your school/district has supported you: The single greatest form of support that my school district has given me is their trust. I do not have to wade through a world of bureaucracy and roadblocks to pursue ideas in my classroom. In turn, ideas become a reality very quickly. This reduction in friction allows me to experiment, evaluate, and revise very quickly.
Ways KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career: Getting me into a classroom regularly and bringing in teachers from the area were two particularly beneficial parts of my KSU College of Ed experience. These two elements of my college experience are what got me my current job at Manhattan High. To elaborate: During my Sophomore year, I attended a KNEA hosted Q&A. Speaking on one of the night’s panels was James Neff. He recommended I get in touch with Kristal Kleiner because of my interest in Debate, Forensics, and English. After that night, I began a regular correspondence with Kristal, requesting her mentorship and inquiring about opportunities to work with her. After a year and a half of such correspondence, I did my practicum with Kristal. After student teaching, Kristal reached out to me, saying she would be stepping down from her current position. She continued by explaining she wanted to groom me to take her job. Eventually, I did. The person I wanted to mentor me (Kristal Kleiner), and the man who got me in touch with her (James Neff), are now my colleagues.
Specifics about your background that make teaching the perfect fit for you: My mother always told me to “go be useful.” While this was typically said with the hope I would clean the house, today it means so much more. “Go be useful” means a person’s value is derived from what they offer the world. Today, I choose to be “useful” by serving my community as a teacher.
While the values of service have always been a part of my upbringing, the support of my teaching ambitions were not. Teaching English and Coaching Speech and Debate were distant possibilities for most of my life. Asian-Americans and children of immigrants as a whole, are not often encouraged to pursue careers in teaching. The appeals of the American dream push children of immigrants to pursue careers with stronger financial incentives. Moreover, children of non-native English speakers do not often pursue teaching English. My upbringing, in some respects, kept me on a pathway diametrically opposing that of a high school teacher.
For these reasons, I needed to teach. My favorite high school teacher, Ms. Boan, told me there is a power in being guided by someone that looks like you. I reminisced on this fact, and realized that I had never had a teacher that looked like me. This experience, for reasons noted earlier, is not uncommon.
I teach because I never saw anyone like me when I was a student. I can’t say that I am the “perfect fit,” but that makes it more important that I am here today.
Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers: For the students who are graduating in their early to mid 20s: First, capitalize on the fact that you are young. I look young and I am young. Adopting a persona would be disingenuous and is a poor basis for developing relationships with colleagues and students. Second, actively pursue self discovery. This is especially beneficial in your time prior to becoming a full fledged teacher. The unique amalgamation of experiences you have had in your life create a unique teaching style. It is a disservice to your students if you cannot give them the unique classroom experience that only a person with your life history can provide. Know who you are so that you can be who you are.
Other thoughts: A huge thank you to all of my friends and mentors in K-State’s College of Ed and the English Department. Your passion, flexibility, and knowledge will always be appreciated.