For Delran Intermediate School teacher Brett McLaughlin, changing one student’s life meant changing his own, too.
While he attended college, played sports and pursued a degree in accounting, McLaughlin worked at a summer camp, where he met and helped a student who came from a household without much consistency.
It was that experience that sparked McLaughlin’s interest in working with children and gave him the vision to actually become a teacher. It would also earn him the 2020 Delran Intermediate School Teacher of the Year award.
“I never really thought that it would be,” he said of the honor. “I didn’t know I would be deserving of this. This is an amazing honor.
“I never really expected it,” he added. “It’s the absolute best honor to know that people that I work with every single day, that I value and who have helped me become a better person, friend and educator, see me as deserving of such an honor.”
As the Delran High School alumnus made his way back to the school district nine years ago to teach fourth grade, he had to first continue his own learning curve. He noted that while college teaches theories, it’s not until a teacher is with students that he or she truly understands how to teach.
“It’s not until you’re in front of a classroom that you see what it takes to get students motivated to learn and get them ready for the next level,” McLaughlin noted. “Whatever it takes to become a better teacher, I continue to try to do.
“For me, fourth grade is the perfect age. Kids are starting to understand themselves socially and they still enjoy school, want to be there and want to learn.”
McLaughlin began his career wanting to help those in need. While the overall goal is still the same, he said it not only feels good to help students grow, but to make sure they are safe and happy inside their classrooms.