Ryan McLin considers himself a Freshman Football Coach even though University View Academy doesn’t have a team. And the playbook the 9th-grade social studies teacher gives students isn’t filled with schemes to a new offense and defense. Instead, Mr. McLin said it’s his job to orient students to high school rigors and to prepare them for courses to come. “I’m trying to build them and give them what they need when they go on,” he stated. Mr. McLin teaches World Geography. His students will move to U.S. History and then to World History with other teachers.
Writing essays is also a trademark of Mr. McLin’s class. Lively discussions during his live sessions usually stimulate it. But there’s more to the method. Essays will be on state achievement tests throughout high school. “It helps them and gets them ready. It’s not just knowing facts and regurgitating,” he said. He’s used this method for the eight years he’s taught, but it was a bumpy road of self-awareness that brought him to the classroom. Mr. McLin worked in the family business after he graduated from college. Four years later, he got his teaching certificate and began his career in the classroom. But he was lured away to the oil and gas industry that provided better pay. Mr. McLin says the lifestyle wasn’t what he expected and realized teaching was his true calling. That’s when he came to UVA. “I love it,” he exclaimed.
Mr. McLin understands the value of the saying “practice makes perfect.” His long hours of training on the golf course in high school led to playing in the state championship tournament and later in a summer golf tour for college students. He still plays in tournaments today. He embodies the same work ethic in his teaching philosophy. “Establish ground rules and expectations,” he offered. “I’ve always tried to be knowledgeable in the subjects so the kids can trust me. But you want the kids to be able to think for themselves,” he explained.
He must be doing something right. He explained excitedly that this is his best live session group ever in his second year of teaching at UVA. On any given day, there are no fewer than 40 students taking part. Mr. McLin says he uses the student interest as motivation to be a better teacher. “It helps you improve, stay positive, and reinvest. Things are ever-changing, and it keeps you on your toes,” he related.