2021-2022 Page Break
2020-2021 Page Break
Spring 2021 de Sales Sheet Digital Issue
Mark McMahon (’77) has taught honors physics and AP physics I & II at MDS for ten years. He returned to Macon and his alma mater after retiring from a 30-year teaching career in Nebraska. There are a lot of Cavaliers in Mark’s family: his four siblings went to MDS; his wife, Mary Rooks McMahon, also graduated from MDS in 1977; and his son, Sean, graduated in 2018. In addition to teaching, Mark loves hiking and being outdoors.
What do you like most about teaching and what challenges you?
I enjoy interacting with students and especially watching them learn. I thought teaching during the pandemic would be difficult, but our students have met that challenge in a very positive way because they are following the rules. It is always a challenge to motivate those students who aren’t as eager to learn, which I try to do with engaging demonstrations of abstract concepts.
Describe a favorite activity or lesson.
When we study pressure, which equals force over area, I lie down, and place a bed of nails on my chest then a cinderblock. A student uses a sledgehammer to break the cinderblock, and they instantly see how the force is distributed over the area of the nails and make a connection to energy changes. I’ve also placed a student inside a heavy trash bag, and sucked the air out with a shop vacuum; they see that the student can’t move because the pressure outside of the bag is greater than the pressure inside. Note: A true teacher, Mark demonstrated the effect of charging tape with electrons during the interview!
Besides content, what do you hope your students learn?
I want them to know that learning is fun. I have found that students put in the effort when you make it fun and enjoyable. I also want my students to appreciate diversity and respect our differences.
What do you think makes MDS unique?
Mount de Sales is a Catholic school that welcomes and accepts students of all backgrounds and different religions into our school community. This is not true of all religious schools, and it is a value that I hope continues here. I really appreciate the broader diversity of the student population and the positive effect that MDS has on everyone.
What were you like as a student?
My wife, Mary, said she couldn’t believe that they gave me the keys to MDS! I was a decent student, but certainly not a straight-A student. In high school my focus was sports, especially football, and as a freshman I walked onto the football team at the University of Nebraska. Ron McLachlan taught me at MDS, and he is one of the main reasons I became a teacher. When I began tutoring students as a sophomore in college and my football career ended, I transferred to Mercer to major in education.
By Noah Silver (2022), Ardmore Scholar
Noah was named an Ardmore Scholar, which is an MDS scholarship program that encourages and rewards student literary talent. The Ardmore Publishing Company Scholarship is given through the generosity of Susan Crawford, a 1963 graduate and faithful supporter of the Academy.
2020 is one of those words that automatically triggers our emotions. We all have different reactions to that word. While some people may feel sadness and anger, others may feel belonging and purity. I think the one constant in everyone’s 2020 was change. I started off my 2020 trying to be like everyone else, but quarantine made me realize that that wouldn’t make me happy. I completely stopped trying to conform and made so many new friends.
In February of 2020, I was embarrassed by my own music taste, sort of somber indie, and didn’t share it with anyone; but when I got out of quarantine, I realized that I don’t care at all. Before isolation in March, I felt like I had to participate in activities that everyone else participated in. I went to every football game and every school dance, even though they were incredibly boring to me. Don’t get me wrong; the journey to get to that change was hard and made my quarantine pretty awful, but I came out of quarantine much happier than I was before.
After quarantine, I did whatever I enjoyed doing without caring what the norm was. I spent my summer exploring abandoned places across Georgia with my friends. In doing this, I found a group of people who were a lot more like me. I even started my own business over the fall. In the winter, I grew my business’s social media platform to over 55,000 followers and made relationships with amazing people I never imagined being close with. I kicked my business off on TikTok, a social media app that gained millions of new viewers during quarantine, and saw huge success rates. Since my business was growing so fast, I had to convert one of my home offices into a manufacturing room for my products. My house soon became a soap factory. Six months later I have 50,000 followers and videos with over 3,000,000 views.
Robert Frost once wrote “Nothing gold can stay,” but I disagree; change stays with you forever. However, change doesn’t happen the second you have the realization that you need it; change is a mindset. You either deny change and spend your life in the shadows of the person you are supposed to be, or you embrace it and become your true self. The powerful thing about quarantine was that it gave us time. Time is rare and precious, and quarantine gave us an excess of it. Something I realized in quarantine, however, was that most people run from time itself. People don’t want to just sit and think because it makes them question their actions and purpose. Questioning is the first step of change. It is not easy. Trust me – I know, but I promise the outcome is worth it.