Teacher Spotlight: Doc McLaughlin


Anja Asato, Editor In Chief

Mr. McLaughlin has been teaching for 46 years, seven of which have been at Horizon Honors. He is so passionate about teaching that he continued to teach an AP US History class and a Law class this year, and his dedication to the teaching profession is evident to any student who steps into his classroom. This will be the last year that Mr. McLaughlin will be teaching an American History class. However, Horizon Honors students will still have the opportunity to have him as a teacher next year in Law. Aside from teaching, Mr. McLaughlin is the advisor of Horizon’s chapter of National Honor Society. I sat down with Mr. McLaughlin to talk about his experiences teaching at Horizon, teaching style, advice, and the future.

What is your favorite memory teaching at Horizon Honors?
There are so many, but one that really sticks out to me would be the first time I was asked to speak at the NHS induction ceremony. I felt like I belonged and was touched that students cared about me, and that they had asked me to speak.

Why do you want to keep teaching?
I enjoy working with students.

Why did you start teaching?
My high school American History teacher, Mr. Rao, inspired me. The high school I attended was in a quickly growing suburb and very over crowded. There were 50 students in my classrooms. As a result, teachers did not get to know most of their students very well. During my junior year, Mr. Rao sat me down (perhaps because of some discipline issues) and talked with me for almost an hour. I finally saw a teacher who cared about all his students. I think that was the connection I needed to help me focus on my academics. My only regret was that I never told Mr. Rao the tremendous impact he had on my life.

What do you plan to do in the future?
I would like to do some legal work helping people who need legal advice, but can’t afford it.

What do you hope that students get out of your class?
A love of learning, the ability to think and analyze difficult situations, to respect each other, and to be curious.

What is your favorite part of US History to teach?
I like the 1920’s because it is such a diverse decade. I also especially like the Civil War because when I taught on the East Coast, I could visit lots of the different places where the battles and important events took place.

Can you share your best piece of advice?
Be willing to change and try something different. Take risks and don’t be complacent and always do the same thing. I’ve tried to do this since I started teaching by moving between different schools, going to Law School, and moving from Philadelphia to Phoenix.

If you could meet one person from history, who would it be? And why?
Abraham Lincoln. I admire Lincoln’s ability to handle major personal and national crises at the same time. I would like to have observed his dexterity in using humor to confront criticism from others with less vision.

What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while you were teaching?
I was teaching at Monsignor Bonner High School. It was the last period on a Friday afternoon in spring. I taught on the second floor. Next to the windows of my classroom was the flat roof of the school auditorium. As I was getting ready to take my class down to the gym for a scheduled pep rally, I noticed 5 students climbing out the windows of the classroom beside mine and onto the roof. They ran across the roof and scaled up the ladder to the roof of the gym. It looked like a scene from the movie “The Great Escape.”  I called the Dean of Men who was waiting as they climbed down the three story fire ladder on the back of the gym

Do you know why you randomly talk really loudly during class? How did it start?
It’s for dramatic effect. I like to keep people’s attention because it is easy to stop paying attention.