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Pictured is Jonathan MacDonald, Point Park secondary education alumnus and English teacher at Oakland Catholic High School. | Photo by Chris Rolinson

Meet Jonathan MacDonald

Job Title: English Teacher and Forensics Coach
Employer: Oakland Catholic High School
Degree Earned: B.A. in Secondary Education/English with honors, Point Park University
May 2008
College Activities: Honors Program, Honors Student Organization, Honors Mentor, Teaching Assistant (University Experience course), Alpha Chi Honors Society, Work Study Student for the Department of Natural Sciences and Engineering Technology and Shakespeare Club
Hometown and Current Residence:
Pittsburgh, Pa.
High School:
North Catholic High School
Singing with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and coaching forensics at Oakland Catholic High School

Why did you decide to pursue a career in education?

Entering Point Park, I honestly did not know what I wanted to pursue as a major. I figured that I would start by completing my core classes and revisit my career path after the first semester or two. On the day of my orientation, I received a schedule that included an Honors English Composition course. I was a bit apprehensive of this schedule, (truth be told, I thought that someone in the scheduling department had made a mistake), but decided to try the class.

This composition course taught by Dr. P.K. Weston was the hardest class I had ever taken to that point. She has the gift of inspiring her students to follow their passions while still challenging each to question their beliefs and dreams (which I might add is a very difficult task at 9:30 on a Monday or Wednesday morning). Her composition course allowed me to reconnect with my love of literature and my passion for teaching and mentoring. Her composition course (and subsequent World Literature course ... and American Literature course ... and Literary Criticism course) ultimately led me to enter the Honors Program, declare Secondary Education/English as my major and pursue my career as a high school teacher. (Thanks P.K.!)

How did you land your teaching position at Oakland Catholic?

I was working as a day-to-day substitute in various high schools after graduation. I had just completed a long-term substitute position at North Catholic High School when I ran into my former high school health and gym teacher at North Catholic's annual spring musical. She told me that Oakland Catholic was looking for substitutes and she would put in a good word for me. After a year of day-to-day subbing at Oakland Catholic, an English position opened up on the first day of the 2010 school year. I interviewed and was in the classroom on the second day.

What factors made you choose Point Park?

I liked the environment of the campus. As a commuter student, I felt that the campus was easy to get to and offered a wide variety of opportunities and activities for all students. Additionally, the class sizes were just the right size. I liked being able to establish relationships with my fellow classmates and the feeling of camaraderie we shared within our classes with our professors.

Describe a favorite Point Park memory.

I was honored with the opportunity to represent Point Park at seven national and regional Collegiate Honors Council conferences throughout the United States. These conferences provide an outlet for students to exhibit and defend the research and programs that they have completed within a scholarly, collegiate setting. I was able to present three times over my years of attending the conferences. These presentations were one of the most satisfying tasks I accomplished during my time at Point Park University.

What advice do you have for our education majors?

Trust in your skills - Point Park University does a wonderful job of preparing a student to teach, but the power to inspire, encourage and engage every student in your classroom is in your hands!

More About: English, success story, secondary education, Honors Student Organization, education, alumni, Honors Program