July 3, 2008
Name: Mary McManus
Department: Business and Computer Science
Year Started: 2002
Classes taught: Software Applications, Computer Programming, AP Computer Programming
Education: Masters from McDaniels University, attended University of Massachusetts, University of D.C.
Previous jobs: Government computer Programmer, stay at home mom
Hobbies: Biking, hiking, gardening, baking, cooking
Jasmine green tea, stacks of student papers and open textbooks surround Mary McManus on a covered desk in a hot computer room. McManus teaches a variety of classes ranging from Software Applications to Computer Programming in the Business and Computer Science Department.
McManus, who earned her Masters degree from McDaniels University and attended the University of Massachusetts and the University of D.C., has been teaching since 1995. "It seems like a long time but in comparison it really isn't, considering most teachers my age have been teaching for 30 years," she says, laughing.
Before beginning her teaching career at Montgomery Blair in the fall of 1996, McManus worked as a government computer programmer and then later a stay-at-home mother. "It was lovely being a stay-at-home mom because I would never have considered teaching before that."
Choosing her words carefully as the overlapping sound of her students' fingers hitting keyboard keys grows, McManus describes how she really began to consider teaching after attending her children's own Back-to-School Night and getting vibes that some of the teachers had lost sight of their students' best interests. "I don't want to offend anyone," she says thoughtfully. "It just felt like certain teachers loved the subject more than their kids."
Today, McManus considers the best part of teaching the opportunity to interact with all students. "I like getting to look at all the potential," she says. "You may not realize it but it is beautiful to look around and see possibilities. All these kids will grow up to be lovely adults. I love seeing that."
McManus strives to captivate the students in the five classes she teaches. "I try to give interesting and relevant projects," she says. Although working in the warm computer lab is sometimes hectic, she doesn't consider teaching to be easier or harder than her previous occupations. "It's just nice because I love what I'm doing."
McManus likes to indulge in outdoor activities when she is out of the classroom. "I really like nature and hiking allows me to enjoy nature," she says. McManus also actively takes part in bike trips. "I went on a biking trip at the Erie Canal with the Sierra Club," she explains, "it was 380 miles and lasted a week." She says that she has many other interests outside of school, including baking and cooking.
When it comes to favorites, McManus is prepared to rattle off a few. "Sheryl Wheeler, Nancy Griffith and Ben Morrison," she says, are her favorite musical artists. One of her favorite authors is Sue Miller, she adds. She prefers indie films as opposed to major box office hits. She says that "The Sea Inside" and "Camila" are some of her favorite flicks. Donning a pink vest and an endearing smile, McManus laughs and later admits that if she had the choice of being any movie character, she would be Wonder Woman.
If she wasn't currently teaching, she says, she'd probably be a government contract programmer, a nutritionist or some form of doctor. However, standing up to help her students, McManus is clearly right in her element.