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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

Women’s History Month: Kelli McDonough

For Dr. McDonough, being a woman is about having strong mentors and nurturing the potential of each individual.
Womens History Month: Kelli McDonough
Yeseo Lim

Dr. Kelli McDonough is known by staff and students alike for her dedicated involvement as an English teacher in the school community since 2008. McDonough originally entered college as a music and physics double major but wound up switching and currently holds a degree in French Modern Language and Linguistics, a bachelor’s in English Literature, a master’s in Secondary English Literature and most recently acquired her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. 

From studying for her bachelor’s to completing the feat of completing her doctoral degree, McDonough has slowly developed her view of what it means to be a woman.  “For me personally, [it’s] not necessarily a biological gender sort of thing,” she said. “I think it comes down to knowing that someone has to be nurturing … that’s a big part of what [this month] is, nurturing the potential that everyone has and helping them recognize that in themselves.”

As a teacher, McDonough often stresses the importance of mentorship. “I think that having positive role models and positive mentors — especially at the high school level — is really important,” she said. McDonough described her own mentor, high school Science Olympiad coach Ms. Lacy, as “really paramount for me, because she was a female in the sciences.” McDonough recalled participating in Science Olympiad competitions where “it was very heavily male-dominated, sometimes I was the only female in a room. The things that, not only the people I was competing against, but the judges, would say … it was so condescending.”

Ms. Lacy’s mentorship inspired McDonough to provide that same support system for the students she encounters. “To me, that’s what being a teacher is about; it’s about finding that raw talent that someone has and nurturing it and helping them grow,” McDonough said. “What I try to do is find the talent in everyone — especially people that may have been put down in the past.”

McDonough is currently teaching a graduate class at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where she focuses on the cultural perspectives of education. From a career standpoint, she added, “To me, it is important that future teachers are aware that your classroom is going to be filled with students of all different backgrounds, and how to develop an awareness of that so that everyone feels as if they are being valued.”

Regarding Women’s History Month, McDonough believes it’s about looking at struggles that others have gone through so that we can have the rights we do today. “It’s not necessarily a thing of focusing on bad things that have happened … yes, bad things have happened, but look at all the good things that have come out of it.”


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About the Contributor
Yeseo Lim, Copy Editor