Name: Megan Conroy
Graduated from what program of study? B.PE Honours (Co-op)
Year of graduation? 2008
Additional studies? B.Ed Intermediate/Secondary (MUN) and Diploma in Technology Education (MUN)
1. What career highlights since graduation would you like to share (including where you’re currently working)?
- Substituted 2009-2010
- Full Year Replacement at St. Paul’s Jr. High, St. John’s (2010-2012)
- Permanent Teacher, St. Paul’s Jr. High, St. John’s (2012-2013)
- Permanent Teacher, Mount Pearl Intermediate, Mt. Pearl (2013-2014)
- Substitute Teacher, Annapolis Valley Regional School Board, Nova Scotia (2014-2015)
- Term Replacement Teacher, Hantsport School & LE Shaw School, Hantsport, NS (Present)
- Assistant Coach, Dalhousie Women’s Volleyball Team (Present)
2. How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your degree? Attending Memorial was an easy decision for me. Growing up in St. John’s, I had always dreamed of attending Memorial. I passed the campus many times throughout a day and felt strong ties to the local atmosphere that Memorial provided. I also knew that the School of HKR had an outstanding teaching faculty and small class sizes that I was looking for. I was also a varsity athlete hopeful in volleyball, and knew that there was a strong support for varsity athletics from the school.
3. What drew you to your chosen degree? I feel I was “one of the lucky ones” in that I always knew I wanted to pursue a degree in Physical Education since a young age. I had some amazing female mentors in my life (Joan Kelly (Buck), Sue Wade, Kelly Baker, Jacinta Bruce) who were extremely successful female physical education teachers and leaders. These women were not only exemplary in their field of physical education, but also as strong women who were leaders, coaches and athletes. I know many, if not all, of these women attended Memorial for their B. PE’s.
4. Do any particular memories stand out from your time here as an undergraduate/graduate student? Without a doubt, my fondest memories of my BPE were of the outdoor education classes with Dr. TA Loeffler and Dr. Bas Kavanagh. Although I didn’t consider myself an “indoor” person, I hadn’t had tons of experience in the outdoors, especially in the winter. Two moments stand out to me:
Our outdoor class with Dr. Kavanagh headed on our weekend portage and camping expedition. The forecast for the second day was pouring rain, but we still had to do our testing to get our flat-water canoeing certification. I can still see Dr. Kavanagh standing on the dock, in the pouring rain, as our pairs in canoes tried to land next to the dock - failing- while one of the two in the canoe was constantly bailing the boat out so we could try again. After a long, wet day, we could sit around the campfire and laugh about it, but that story was told many times after.
Winter outdoor camping trip with TA. This was a particularly memorable event due to a few factors. TA was attempting her first climb of Mount Everest during our semester, so that experience with her alone was invaluable, seeing all her gear, the preparation mentally, physically and emotionally was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. Secondly, we had had a weird winter weather-wise and had actually had a lot of rain and a lot of storms, so our window to head out for our overnight in a quinzhee was diminishing. We got the go ahead one Saturday, even though stormy weather was possible, we headed out. The four in my group built our quinzhee quickly and as stormy weather moved in, the whole group decided we’d head to bed to hopefully miss it. As we crawled into the quinzhee and opened our sleeping bags, my friend and classmate, Stephanie Pittman, discovered what she thought was a sleeping bag packed in a stuff sack, was in fact, half of a blanket. We all laughed but had no idea what we were going to do in essentially a snow hut in the middle of Pippy Park in a snowstorm; enter TA to the rescue. Since she had been testing out her Everest gear, she was able to sleep in her “marshmallow” snow suit and was able to loan Steph her luxurious Mt. Everest sleeping bag; another great memory.
5. What did you learn while in your program that’s been particularly helpful in your career? I learned that variety and adaptability are essential in the teaching world, especially Physical Education. I learned a lot about ways to adapt lesson plans, discovered alternate activities (outside of the “traditional” sports) and that the true idea behind Physical Education is the idea of physical literacy. Teaching our students of any age, ability, etc. how to move and be active, apply it to a variety of active situations and then keeping those students active for life is the backbone of Physical Education. Each day presents itself with new reasons for adaptations, being able to think quickly and be flexible are key to providing a successful PE program.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? A great friend and mentor Terry Mosher, who is also graduate of Memorial’s PE program, gave me a very simple piece of advice that I have carried with me since the day I first heard it. After a particularly stressful day filled with tough decisions and frustrating obstacles, he looked me in the eye and said “Listen Meg, it is what it is.” This has since been a mantra of mine and helped me get through that day, as well as many others. It was echoed years later by another mentor and coach, Rick Scott, in the phrase of “Stay within your circle of influence.” Both these sayings carry the same idea - that teaching, coaching and life, for that matter, will throw different things your way. Some you can control, some you can’t. If you focus on the things that are in your control and work your hardest to be successful in those areas, good things will happen.
7. What is it about your chosen career that appeals to you so much? Did you have an “a ha” moment that influenced your decision-making in terms of career? Other than the very influential mentors I mentioned above, I don’t remember an “a-ha” moment, more of just I knew it was an area that interested me as a career from an early age, and the more experience I had with it (from volunteering, coaching, peer teaching, etc.) the more it confirmed I’d made the right choice.
8. What’s a typical day like for you today? A typical day entails arriving at work about 30 minutes ahead of school start to make sure my day is organized, make sure equipment is ready, and make sure there are no special events happening. Check email to see if anything urgent needs attention. Once my classes start there’s pretty much no time to stop and think, I teach about 10 different classes in the run of a day from Kindergarten to Grade 8, so that’s a lot of mind shifts from different age groups, as well as lessons to have planned and executed within 6 hours! After school I usually stick around to do some planning as I find I’m most productive at school rather than home. Once my planning is done, it’s off to coach 1-2 volleyball practices in Halifax (1 hour away) in the evening for the Dalhousie University Women’s Volleyball Team or my Tigers 17U Girls Club Volleyball Team.
9. What advice would you give a student who is unsure of what to study? Talk to people who are in or have gone through the HKR programs; and make sure to talk to a few people. Each individual’s experiences will be different so it’s great to get information from a few vantage points. Also, you can make an appointment to speak with a professor(s) in the faculty; they can give you a great idea of what a typical class may entail. The possibilities are really endless with an HKR degree!
10. What are you most looking forward to within the next year? Leaving Newfoundland and Labrador to start my teaching career all over again was a big step, but one I’m very happy with. Luckily my experience in NL absolutely prepared me to go through it full steam ahead here in Nova Scotia. I’ve worked hard, networked and volunteered, as well as tried to become involved in the local school communities. I think these are simple steps that new teachers can do on their end to eventually be successful in a new province or career (keeping in that circle of influence!) My hope is to work my way into a permanent position once again now here in NS, so I’m excited to see what the future holds!
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