Proud to be MACS: October 2023

Below are remarks delivered at the November Board of Education Workshop Meeting at the MACS District Office on Nov. 2, 2023 by Board President James Emery.

Andrew MacDonald, October 2023

“Knowledge is not to keep but to share!”  This statement from my interview with Andy MacDonald sums up his teaching philosophy, and it is a key reason why he is such a popular and successful teacher at Mexico High School. Therefore, it is a well deserved honor to recognize Andy as our Proud to be MACS recipient for October 2023.

Andy was born in Hicksville, Long Island but moved to the Lake George region of New York State after 5th grade and would graduate from the Queensbury Union Free School District.

\While attending Queensbury, Andy credits his shop and metal teacher, Mr. Thomas Barrowman for influencing him to pursue Industrial Arts. It was Mr. Barrowman who pushed Andy to attend SUNY at Oswego, the gold star of Industrial Arts programs, because he thought Andy would make a fine teacher.

Andy did attend SUNY at Oswego attaining his Industrial Arts Degree in 1982. It was one of the last Industrial Arts Degrees issued as the program would change to become Technology Education.

Following graduation, Andy tried to secure a position at the Mexico Middle School. Ironically, another MacDonald (John) was awarded the position.

\At that time, there was an abundance of teachers, so Andy sought a position in industry becoming an engineering assistant at Sealright, now Huhtamaki, Inc. located in Fulton, New York.

When the company restructured after five years, Andy took a position with a corrugated cardboard box company in Fulton remaining there for nine years.

Due to a merger of that company, Andy returned to SUNY at Oswego to pursue his Masters' Degree.

After filling a long-term substitute position at the East Irondequoit Central School District, Andy took a position at MACS in 2000.

Along the way, Andy would raise two children, Ian, who works for the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Division and Hilary, who works in East Syracuse at Northside Collision.

Speaking of children, when I asked Andy for a favorite memory, it was working with his students.  He tried to embrace his students as if they were his own children and treated them accordingly, that is, treating them like people and not the traditional power structure of teacher versus student.  Such treatment has resulted in the development of friendships with students outside the classroom.  This has made for a very enjoyable career where Andy has tried to make students comfortable and inspire them to exhibit confidence.

Referring to an email from a family who greatly benefited from having Andy as a teacher, mom Tammy Elowsky writes, “We were so excited to hear that Mac was being considered for an award at MACS (the school was clearly named after him!)  We all wanted to take some time to tell you about the effect he had on our family...”

Tammy’s son, Trevor states, “Mac was a great teacher and he treated me with respect.  He showed me the ropes and believed in my ability.”

Tammy’s daughter also thought highly of Andy by saying, “Mac was a phenomenal teacher! He believed I could do anything I could put my mind to. He was my rock, my therapist, my mentor.  When he started to work with me, he saw my potential and encouraged me to go into this man-dominated field..  He believed in me.”

According to Tammy’s email, Trevor and Taylor pursued Electrical Construction and Maintenance programs at Alfred State University and now are employed as solar electricians with GAF Energy.  In fact, GAF recently invited Taylor, who is their only female solar electrician, out to California to tell her story.  And, who do you think she credited - Andy, of course. 

See Taylor's related GAF video here

As for the favorite part of his job, Andy hopes that his students realize the skills (electrical, plumbing, welding, etc.) that he teaches them can last a lifetime and can be used many times over, especially when they have homes of their own.

Like Trevor and Taylor, many students have thanked Andy for helping them out by sparking (no pun intended) an interest that led to jobs with high pay and benefits ranging from solar electricians to residential electricians to working for National Grid on their power lines.

Maybe it’s because we are both seasoned, I asked Andy what gives him so much youthful vigor.  He felt that it came from working in education - a setting where he is surrounded by immense enthusiasm and energy generated by students.  Apparently explorer, Ponce de Leon did not have to wander the wilds of Florida to find the “Fountain of Youth," he could have merely visited a classroom or two.

Referring again to Tammy’s email, she writes, “As a mom, I saw my kids struggle from pre-K all the way through graduation. Remediation this, extra help that.  Not saying it wasn’t necessary, it all helped get them where they are today, but it was a true confidence killer for both of them.  Then came Mac.  They were like fish in water!  Taylor was actually helping peers!  Trevor was actually, dare I say, happy!...Little does Mac know, they credit him with their success.”

In conclusion, Tammy writes, “I thank you for your consideration of Mac for recognition, as he is so very deserving.  He is kind, thoughtful, skilled, and, most important, a mentor to those kids who really need it.  He gave mine a future and a purpose, and, for that, I am forever grateful.  Please be sure to give him our best!”

So Andy, for treating our students with respect, for instilling them with confidence, for serving as a mentor, for teaching them lifelong skills, for giving them purpose and a vision of the future, but, most importantly, for not keeping but sharing the precious gift of knowledge with our students, we, the Board, appreciatively recognize you as our Proud to be MACS recipient for October 2023.

Andrew MacDonald PTMB October 2023