Dawn McLain believes in educating the whole child. The sixth-grade science and math teacher wants her students at Arkansas’ North Little Rock Middle School to succeed academically, of course, but she’s equally focused on helping them build life skills that will help them succeed into adulthood. McLain encourages hands-on learning, including robotics, design modeling, and interactive activities like tug-of-war. After attending the Honeywell Educators Space Academy program, McLain brought back information, projects and curriculum available to all teachers at the school. Her hands-on approach helped boost North Little Rock’s science scores by 7% and has helped students at all levels find success.
McLain has chaired both the math and science departments at North Little Rock Middle School. As one of several lead teachers in the district, McLain spends half her day in the classroom and the other half mentoring students, novice teachers and educators-in-training. She delivers professional development, demonstrates lessons, and often co-teaches with her colleagues. Because McLain has worked with all ages and holds a master’s in gifted and talented education, fellow teachers and administrators seek out her counsel.
A member of the school leadership and Arkansas Leadership Academy teams, McLain is North Little Rock’s resident expert in areas like project-based learning, technology resources, and Summit Learning. When the school adopted Opportunity Culture, a program designed to support success for both teachers and students, McLain took a lead role, designing lessons, helping with data collection and analysis, and facilitating daily team meetings. For Project Lead the Way, a student empowerment program, McLain trained staff, organized supplies and made sure colleagues knew how to incorporate the projects into their classrooms.
McLain builds strong relationships with both parents and students. Many keep in touch with her to share their successes and make sure she knows they are building on the skills she taught them. She advises the student council, has organized coat drives and canned food collections for students in need, and volunteers with Boy Scouts of America.
McLain earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Kaplan University in 2005, a master’s in teaching from Henderson State University in 2008, and a master’s in Gifted, Talented and Creative Education from Arkansas State University in 2014.
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