by Lydia S '15

Teacher of the Month: Mr. Mehan

1.) What is your cultural background?

I am actually fifth- or sixth-generation American. My mother is working out the specifics but I do know that I have mostly Irish ancestry with a bit of English/French thrown into the mix.

2.) Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a very small town, Stillwater, in Upstate NY outside of Albany/Saratoga.

3.) What was your childhood like?

Since it was a small town, everyone knew each other, much like BSGE. We spent a lot of time just hanging outside at bonfires/cookouts, playing games, or just sitting on the banks of the Hudson (it’s much narrower up north). I ended graduating with 75 others in the only high school in town.

4.) When did you decide to be a teacher?

I remember during playing school when I was little and ‘teaching’ imaginary students (4th grade history/geography). My sixth grade math teacher, Mrs. Alston, helped increase my interest in math because of her ways of engagement and motivation. We actually now meet and talk about our math curricula as she now teaches eighth grade. Much of my own style of teaching is reflective of what I experienced in her classroom as well as a few others. I also remember writing and often revising my college application essay for the teacher training program at Elmira College. My English teacher, Mr. DiPrimio, introduced me to the awesome word “hone” which I still use often.

5.) Where did you teach before BSGE?

I taught seventh grade math for a number of years at a K-8 school in Manhattan. I felt I was not learning enough as a teacher and transferred to cover a math 6th/7th grade math position at Halsey while another teacher took a year off. Since the person returned, I ended up covering a program at Russell Sage.

6.) How do you like BSGE? Favorite thing about it? Least favorite thing about it?

I love working with the students at BSGE. They know when to be serious and yet when it is okay to joke around. The toughest part is the amount of preparation needed for the style of teaching. A lot of flexibility is also needed. The staff at BSGE is awesome as I’ve had the chance to work with them on a variety of projects for the school. I am very fortunate to be working at BSGE because of the environment, its reputation, as well as its location.

7.) What was it like in your first year of teaching? Was transitioning to an IB school difficult?

Although it is very intimidating to transition into BSGE, it was wonderful to see that one of my former sixth graders was to be in my eighth grade class, while four others were also students here. I also saw some familiar faces in my seventh grade classes from Sage. This was very motivating for the first day of school. Even then, I still had to “hone” my skills and acclimate to the more advanced style of teaching as well as the condensed curricula.

8.) You seem to be very involved in student activities. What are some of them and why are you so involved?

Yearbook was an obvious choice as I was editor of my high school yearbook. Layout design was something I became increasingly interested in during the four years of college working on the yearbook and also being editor-in-chief of the newspaper. I also was encouraged to start a math club comparable to the high school club ran by Jim Napolitano. This provides 7th and 8th graders to the opportunity to see a different side of math while having fun. After competing in in-house competitions throughout the year, some students will have the chance to compete as a team against other schools in Queens at Queens College. I love my involvement in student activities as I get to know students on a different level that isn’t just academic.

9.) What’s something you’ve noticed in BSGE students that differ in others?

First and foremost, the level of intrinsic motivation is much higher in BSGE students. The students strive to do their best and not just “get by” like some other students in the past. It’s also nice to see them step up to the higher caliber work and develop their own reasoning rather than just maintaining a tell-me-how-to-do-it mentality.

10.) What do you do for fun? What activities do you participate in outside of school?

I enjoy a variety of activities, be it singing with the Astoria Symphonic Choir or playing volleyball for charity with ZogSports. I also love to travel and experience different places from Egypt to Poland and soon to be Russia. I also like adventure like camping, hiking, whitewater rafting, skydiving, and amusement parks.

11.) When you were in high school, what were your interests?

During high school, when I wasn’t involved in yearbook, the theatre department, or choir, I spent a lot of time volunteering with the local fire department. I also had a part-time job as a supervisor at a telemarketing research firm (yes, the people that called during dinner).

12.) Favorite bands?

I have a very eclectic taste in music. I like nearly everything from pop to country, r&b to rock, and a little bit of hip hop (especially 90s hip hop). One of my favorite bands during college was a lesser-known group called justincase.

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