by John Visclosky
Name: Mary McManus
Subjects: AP Computer Programming, Computer Programming, Web Site Development
Education: Computer Science Degree from the University of Massachusetts, Master's Degree In Education from West Maryland University
Previous Jobs: Computer Programmer at the Department of Commerce and mother
Came To Blair In: September of 2002
Hobbies: Vegetarian cooking and environmentally friendly gardening (gardening without the aid of pesticides)
Extracurricular Activities: None currently, though she hopes to start a computer club next year to explore facets of computer programming that are not covered in the regular curriculum
First-year computer science teacher Mary McManus sat in the middle of a long room that makes up the computer science office at Blair. While it may seem as if McManus is talking about the US, the kindergarten she referred to belonged to the public school system of Germany, McManus' home from 1978-1983.
"[The kindergarten teachers] in Germany believe in brain development, and they teach by playing," continued Manus. "It's really quite phenomenal."
McManus moved to Kronberg, Germany twenty-four years ago to facilitate her husband's occupation as a civilian Army real estate attorney. Rather than residing on an army base, McManus and her family took to a traditional Germany dwelling for the five years that they remained in Kronberg.
"We lived on the economy rather than in the Army housing," said McManus. "This forced us to learn the language and local customs. Our children even attended German schools."
Because one of her son's had dyslexia, McManus found it very difficult for her children to adapt to the German school setting.
"[Germans] don't understand dyslexia at all, and they weren't equipped to provide him with the education he needed," said McManus. "That was one of the reasons why we chose to move back to the US rather than stay in Germany."
Though she may have found life in Germany an, "exciting experience," McManus was glad to return to the US.
"Living in Germany really made me value all our freedoms [in the US]," said McManus, "not just social freedoms, but educational ones too. [In Germany, students] learn a lot of facts by reading, and there is no interpretation. They are not taught to think outside the box."
After leaving Kronberg, McManus came to Montgomery County to work for seven years while volunteering in children's elementary school classes. The part-time volunteer work got McManus noticed by several of her peers in the academic community who pushed her into education.
Although she left Germany over two decades ago, McManus is still in contact with many of the people she met and became friends with across the Atlantic.
"In Germany, people are slow to even call you by your first name, said McManus. "But, once you become friends, you are friends for life. [In the US] the word friendship means practically nothing. The people I knew in Germany for only five years are still my closest friends."
The light din and hum of the computer picks up as McManus returns to the screen, booting up a disk and peering at its contents. The bustle of children outside the door heralds her next class, and she seems determined to be prepared. Blair looks to be McManus' next Kronberg, hopefully with just as many lasting friendships and acquaintances.