Howard W. Hewitt – Sometimes you just can’t get the bug out of your system. Just last week we heard from Kyle Bender ’12 who is working in Teach for America at Indianapolis.
Here is how he started his note: “One of the things I miss most about leaving Wabash is not being able to write professionally. My position as the computers teacher at Fountain Square Academy doesn’t afford me the same opportunities I once had writing for the Bachelor and Public Affairs.”
So what does a Wabash man do? Bender volunteered to help create a newsletter for TFA Corps members in Indy. When he got a list of teachers to profiles, he immediately saw the name of Patrick McAlister ’10.
So here is Kyle’s story – edited by his former Bachelor Advisor and Public Affairs employer, just like old times.
by Kyle Bender ’12
Patrick McAlister has already developed a host of experiences in just three removed from Wabash. He began as a Charlotte 2010 Teach for America Corps Member, but transferred to Indianapolis to complete commitment.
He teaches 8th, 9th, and 10th grade ELA at Indiana Math and Science Academy-North, Indianapolis.
But McAlister has always liked multiple challenges so last fall he managed Caitlyn Hannon’s campaign for Indianapolis Public School Board.
The draw to education first began while he was a Wabash student. Several alums visited campus to reflect upon their time in the classroom as corps members. McAlister was impressed and inspired by their words, particularly how TFA changed their entire perspectives on educational equity.
“My classmate Gary James and I talked a lot about getting involved in politics and policy,” McAlister said. “We felt that education was the most important thing we could do right out of college. Based upon our backgrounds and experiences, Teach For America became the obvious outgrowth of what we could do.”
Both joined TFA in 2010 – James assigned to Washington D.C., McAlister to Charlotte. Teaching honors chemistry and physics courses his first year, McAlister’s students posted some of highest gains on the Charlotte district test.
However, at the end of his first year, family health issues prompted McAlister to request a transfer closer to his hometown of Fort Wayne.
“I needed to be closer to home, but I also didn’t want to give up pushing forward and fighting for education reform,” he said. “Teach For America was great. They understood my circumstances and I was able to be transferred to Indianapolis. I already knew the city and was also able to teach a subject I really enjoy and can incorporate other interests such as journalism and theatre. I feel very fortunate to be here.”
While teaching ELA at IMSA-North, McAlister was also able to utilize another of his passions to support education reform efforts in the city. A veteran of several political campaigns and former press intern for Senator Evan Bayh, McAlister stepped up as campaign manager for his colleague Caitlyn Hannon (Indianapolis 2010) and her bid for IPS School Board.
“When you get into the business of working campaigns, too often you have to work for whoever pays you,” McAlister said. “I have been fortunate that every campaign I have been a part of, I really believed in the candidate.”
McAlister advises current corps members to not let teaching envelop their entire lives. He suggests trying new hobbies, reading good books for leisure, and enjoying everything Indianapolis has to offer. If not, he says, “you’ll lose your mind.”