Creative Writing, Secondary Education M.Ed. Alumnus Josh McCann ’18 ’23 is an English Teacher and Published Writer Alumni Profile
Photo by Nadia Jones '25
Meet Josh McCann '18 '23
- Job Title & Employer
- English teacher, Laurel Highlands High School
- Job Title & Employer
- Writer, Made in PGH
- Secondary Education-M.Ed., English/Creative Writing
- College Activities
- Judge for the Scholastic Writing Awards, The Globe
- Hopwood, Pa.
- High School
- Laurel Highlands High School
- Now Living In
- Hopwood, Pa.
- Hobbies & Interests
- Playing guitar, writing, reading, watching movies and golfing
"Point Park is known for having a culturally rich and diverse creative community. I knew deep down that this was the place for me. The location in the city is inspiring, the professors are amazing and the atmosphere is really cool."
Why did you choose Point Park University for your undergraduate degree and again for your master’s degree?
I was a non-traditional student, having spent my 20s playing in my rock band and performing throughout Pittsburgh. I wrote an album and recorded it professionally at Mr. Smalls. I loved playing, but I wanted to get my degree. It hit me that I could go to school for creative writing. I’ve always loved to write, and Point Park's creative writing program is top-tier. I was in my early 30s when I enrolled. Point Park is known for having a culturally rich and diverse creative community. I knew deep down that this was the place for me. The location in the city is inspiring, the professors are amazing and the atmosphere is really cool.
For my master’s degree, I wanted to go back to Point Park because the M.Ed. in Secondary Education is offered online, which allowed me to continue teaching during the day. It was an opportunity to learn at my favorite school again, which made it an easy decision!
How did the creative writing program prepare you for career success?
It helped improve my writing, and I use what I learned to this day. The classes are small, which is huge for getting feedback on your work from professors and students. You write a lot in the program, which trains you to make the deadlines and persevere. Our writing workshops were great for learning how to critique our work. When I landed my first long-term teaching position in a 10th-grade English class, I was able to give them feedback on their writing, applying what I learned from my own classes. It was really fulfilling, and I treated it like I was in Point Park's workshops again. The students really liked the personal feedback. It gave them confidence, and it helped their writing in the long run. At that point, I knew I wanted to keep teaching and go further with it.
How did the secondary education program foster your professional growth?
Point Park's variety of classes helped me in the classroom. I learned many teaching strategies and techniques, from classroom management and differentiated instruction to culturally diverse teaching. The professors are always there if you have any questions. Making lesson plans and completing my student teaching really helped my growth, too.
Which faculty members and courses had a significant impact on you?
For creative writing, I enjoyed so many courses, all of which were very influential in my writing and teaching. Each of them helped me grow as a writer and reader, especially Chris Girman’s non-fiction workshops, Karen Dwyer’s fiction workshops and Jessica McCort's novel classes. We still keep in touch and are good friends. Barbara Barrow, Sarah Perrier and Abby Mendelson also had a positive impact on my experience, as well as Professor Emeriti P.K. Weston and Kim Bell. They all taught me so much about writing. It was amazing to be in that atmosphere. It was really inspiring and made an impact on my writing and my life in general.
With my master's program, Kristen Misutka’s Differentiated Instruction course taught me strategies I’ll use in the classroom. Kamryn York’s Technological Education course taught me about different ways to create assignments. The School of Education faculty really care about your progress, and they go above and beyond for their students. I’m really looking forward to incorporating everything I've learned into my own classroom.
What have you written about lately, and where have you been published?
On a weekly basis, I write about upcoming events and anything cool happening around Pittsburgh for Made in PGH. I’ve been doing that since 2018, and I’ve written about everything from wine festivals and concerts to the ice house in Market Square. I also recently published a review of The Killers' concert in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a review of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour on my entertainment blog, Where the Bands Are. This summer I’ll be covering more shows for the Post-Gazette, which is very exciting for me as a huge music fan and musician. I’ve also been working on my fiction writing for an upcoming large-scale project.
What do you love about being a teacher?
Students can be really imaginative and fearless with their writing. I love giving feedback, seeing them grow as writers and teaching them about different works and authors. The fun of teaching is also found in so many little things. They give me high fives in the hallway, and they are genuinely excited to see me. When I walk the halls, I often hear, “Hey, Mr. McCann!" with the same enthusiasm every day. I always check in with my students to see how they are doing, and recently, a student said I was their favorite teacher. Moments like that tell me I'm doing something right because how you make your students feel is important. I also love teaching because I can still work on my own writing, I can still play music with my band and I’m around books all day. I get to stay true to my interests and share them in the classroom, too.
Why would you recommend Point Park to a prospective student?
It’s a very creative environment with outstanding professors who are going to help you reach your goals. The class sizes, location and courses make for a unique and inspiring experience. There’s always something exciting going on around campus. You're surrounded by an inspiring student body of singers, dancers, actors, writers, directors, journalists, broadcasters and more. Choosing Point Park is the best decision I ever made.
Learn more about Chris Girman, Ph.D., and Kamryn York, Ed.D., in the videos linked below:
Connect with Josh McCann '18 '23
More About: success story, Downtown Pittsburgh, faculty, Pittsburgh, education, School of Arts and Sciences, alumni, graduate education, creative writing, graduate programs, secondary education, School of Education