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Faculty Spotlight - Denise McNew

04 November 2021

Denise McNew has been an instructor for Harford Community College’s Adult Literacy Program, a Maryland Department of Labor grant-funded program, for six years. What she enjoys most about teaching is her students’ success: "As my students’ greatest cheerleader, there’s no better joy for me than seeing them pass their exams and the pride they feel at their own success. It’s priceless."

She teaches Adult Basic Education II Math and Reading and Writing classes, Pre-GED III Math, Pre-GED, GED, and i-Pathways Hybrid GED Reading and Writing classes. In addition, Denise helped design and teach a pilot science GED class this past summer. The class covers all the major branches of science taught in high school. The curriculum, which includes basic physics, chemistry, biology, life science, and earth science, is designed to incorporate the scientific method and basic statistics through hands-on activities, videos, and the use of technology.

Teaching adult students, sometimes decades after they leave high school without their high school diploma, isn’t easy. It requires establishing a partnership between a teacher and a student as well as creativity and patience. She feels everyone has a special gift or talent that hasn’t been tapped into and she wants to help her students find theirs.

Denise works diligently to set her students up for success. She realizes that many Adult Basic Education students had negative experiences with school before. She provides her students with a different view of what instruction and learning look like. “I try to use as many hands-on activities as possible in my lessons. I provide test-taking tips as well as pitfalls to avoid during an exam with real examples. In person, I’ve had students work together to develop confidence and community as well as peer tutoring to alleviate stress. Most recently, I’ve utilized online games and interactive websites to provide practice of concepts and opportunities to improve digital literacy skills.” Her methods work––all her students surpassed the passing score on the most recent GED Ready exam!

"Besides earning their high school diplomas––which is my #1 priority––I hope my students feel capable and encouraged. It’s important to me that each student feels cared for and valuable, so they have the courage to face challenges and take risks. This is the only way to continue to grow, not only academically, but holistically," she said.

Denise feels her top accomplishments are " . . . developing and implementing the GED science curriculum, the relationships I’ve developed with my co-workers and students, and learning how to connect with and teach adult learners after working with children for so long." Prior to coming to Harford, she was an elementary school teacher at public and private schools for 20 years.

Denise earned a BA in German Studies from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and a BS in Elementary Education and an MEd in Education from Western Connecticut State University. She’s also earned Advanced Professional Teaching Certification from the State of Maryland.

She believes in giving back, and previously served as a volunteer member of the School Improvement Team and the Curriculum Committee at Mountain Christian School as well as a dance choreographer for the church’s events. Denise has also served as the Vice President of the Board of Directors and as drama coach for Indian Lake Christian Camp in Darlington, MD.  Pi Lambda Theta, an honor society for educators, recognized Denise for her volunteer activities.

In her free time, she enjoys almost anything outdoors––including hiking, running, camping, kayaking, and gardening. She has seven grandsons, ages 2-14, and another grandbaby on the way.

Denise’s dedication to her students and colleagues at Harford is greatly appreciated, and we are proud to recognize her as this month’s Faculty Spotlight. Congratulations, Denise!