Local educators fill roles as adjunct professors at MSU-Meridian

MERIDIAN, Miss.—By day, Richard McDonald and Roy McNeill work with young students in the Lauderdale County School System, but in the evenings they bring their expertise to Mississippi State University-Meridian where, as adjunct professors, they teach the next generation of educators.

Both MSU-Meridian graduates, they initially served together at Clarkdale Attendance Center where McDonald was school counselor and McNeill was principal. Over the years, their job responsibilities and schools changed, but their passion for the profession and K-12 education never waned.

McDonald, assistant principal at Southeast Lauderdale Middle School, said teaching at the post-secondary level sharpens his skills for his K-12 practice, as well as motivates him to stay on top of current trends and research in the field of education.

McNeill, student services coordinator at Southeast Lauderdale High School, said he believes teaching future educators is one way to address weakness sees in the K-12 system. “We can change the system one great teacher at a time,” he said.

McDonald now has taught at MSU-Meridian for six years; McNeill, for five.

One of the strengths of MSU-Meridian’s education programs is having “highly qualified” faculty like McDonald and McNeill that now work, or have worked, daily “in the trenches,” said Julia Porter, Division of Education head. 

“They have been teachers, counselors, administrators and clinicians before coming to Mississippi State,” Porter continued. “That knowledge, combined with adjunct professors like McDonald and McNeill who still are active in the K-12 system, gives us an education program that I believe is second to none.” 

While both men clearly enjoy their day jobs, McDonald and McNeill also say that teaching tomorrow’s teachers is extremely gratifying. Their MSU-Meridian students are able to learn from the teachers’ real-life professional experiences on a daily basis.

Recently, the adjunct professors collaborated on a cooperative project involving McDonald’s class in undergraduate learning evaluation and McNeill’s graduate course in advanced methods in middle and secondary teaching. The project enabled the graduate students to receive evaluations and constructive criticism from sources less intimidating than a supervising administrator. 

“We hope to discover and address weaknesses in the teachers’ work now through the help of the undergraduate students in Richard’s class, rather than have them suffer a poor evaluation in a professional setting,” McNeill said.

McDonald’s students developed both the assessment questions and an assessment instrument used, in part, to determine mid-term grades. After the graduate-student presentations, the undergraduate students were divided into groups, each with a facilitator that listened as they discussed the relationships between instruction and assessment.

McDonald and McNeill agreed the cooperative effort was very beneficial for all involved, and likely will lead to similar projects in the future.

For more about MSU-Meridian’s education division, visit www.meridian.msstate.edu/academics/education.

For more information about Mississippi’s flagship research university, see www.msstate.edu.


Pictured:  Roy McNeill (left) and Richard McDonald take a break in the courtyard at Southeast Lauderdale Middle School.  Both men are adjunct professors at MSU-Meridian for the division of Education.

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