WGN in Chicago named Steven McIlrath from Austin College and Career Academy its Teacher of the Month for October. McIlrath teaches calculus at the college and is notorious for his rhyming skills and choreography when explaining the subject to his students.
Though his rhymes have helped countless students understand the complex principles of calculus, McIlrath is also known as a teacher who inspires his students to push harder and never give up. Student Dajinae Leverston said that McIlrath was a motivating force for him. “He tells me every day, ‘Dajinae, you’re good. Slow down, you’re more than enough. That motivates me to keep going,” Leverston said. He added that McIlrath makes his students think about where they’re going, not just where they are.
Teachers are nominated by students for the award and while most receive a single nomination, McIlrath was nominated by six students. Jacob Jones, a former student, said that Mr. Mac as his students call McIlrath, takes his time teaching so that even students who are struggling are able to grasp the concepts.
Student Monifah Johnson said that he had always given up on other math classes when things got too difficult but McIlrath never gave up on him. He added that McIlrath pushed him forward and he accomplished things he never believed he could.
McIlrath believes that learning is fun, but getting stuck is not. He is there for his students so that they don’t get stuck. Renia Hamilton is grateful to him for fighting for the school to offer a summer AP Calculus class which McIlrath taught without pay. She said teaching is his passion and he loves helping students.
Saint Xavier University issued McIlrath a check for $1,000 in honor of his nomination and to recognize his outstanding teaching at Austin College.