TROY — One of the new faces around Troy Junior High School belongs to Jason McGaharan, who began teaching eighth grade science this year.
McGaharan is in his ninth year of teaching, having spent five years teaching seventh and eighth grade science as well as high school biological sciences at Sidney, and three years at New Bremen teaching seventh and eighth grade science.
“My wife’s family is from Piqua and we’re Miami County people,” he said. “My son was about ready to go to kindergarten, so it was time to choose where we wanted to live and send our kids to school.”
McGaharan knew Troy High School head football coach Matt Burgbacher from when they played each other when he was at New Bremen and Burgbacher was at Fort Loramie.
“When he got the job, I knew I wanted to move back to the area and I had always heard good things about Troy, so it was kind of a no-brainer to move here,” he said.
McGaharan’s day starts when he arrives to the school at 7 a.m. At 7:30 class begins, which includes a starter to get the kids engaged and then the activity of the day. He has six classes of eighth graders throughout the day, then in the evening coaches football at the high school.
“It’s a long day, but it’s enjoyable,” he said. “You’re impacting kids all day long and helping them out, so it feels good.”
His class covers three main topics: Earth science, physical science and life science. Currently the class is getting into the Earth science part of the course and have been doing a lot of hands-on activities.
“I try to structure the class the way I would want it to be if I was a student,” he said. “We’ve all experienced classes we’ve enjoyed and classes that we didn’t so much enjoy. I live by the motto that if a kid hears something he’s going to forget it, if they see it they may remember it, but if they do it they’re going to understand it and remember it.”
Teaching one subject only has presented an adjustment period for McGaharan. He explained how he had taught different preps any given day for the last five years. He was constantly changing up labs, changing up assignments as one group of kids left and another group of kids come in, so it can get pretty hard to stay on top of things.
“Coming to Troy, it’s such a big school that they’re able to keep teachers situated with one prep and one subject,” he said. “I commented to my wife and Mr. Dilbone that this is some of the best teaching I’ve been able to do in the last nine years because I can focus in on the job I’m doing. Being able to focus on one thing has helped me to do a better job at Troy and the kids have been great.”
The diversity of the students at Troy has been one the most rewarding parts of his job. McGaharan said in his previous positions, most of the students had a solid foundation at home, while at Troy, the background of students is very diverse, where some students come from well-to-do homes and others need school for some of the things they may not be getting at home.
“One of the most rewarding things about working in a large district like Troy is there are so many students who maybe don’t have a home life as stable and they come to school looking for support or guidance. Being able to help out those kids who need that guidance and structure is very rewarding,” he said.
Overall, the impact he can have on his students and getting to interact with them is why McGaharan loves his job.
“This is a time in their lives that they’re starting to develop habits that are going to stick with them the rest of their lives, they’re starting to learn about themselves,” he said. “It’s kind of funny. When I come to work every day, I never really know what to expect and it’s a really fun age to work with. I always try to keep at the forefront of my mind that these are 13- and 14-year-old kids who are learning about the world around them. We’re always trying to stick to the standards and teach what we need to teach, but we’re also trying to make it fun and show them that school can be a fun place and you can enjoy learning.”
He and his wife Erin, who is a guidance counselor at Piqua Junior High School, have two children, son Brady who is in kindergarten at Miami East and daughter Ava who attends preschool at Edison. The McGaharans are building a house in Troy and are scheduled to be moving into their new home in December.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@Troydailynews.