Julie McCullough is living out her dream. After being involved in sports most of her life, she’s now known as Coach Mac to the grade 9-12 students in her Health and Physical Education classes at Laurel Springs. She took a timeout to tell us about how she got here and gave us a peek at her current game plan.
Coach at Heart from the Start
“Growing up, I played many different sports at a competitive level and was fortunate enough to play Division I Basketball. To this day, I still enjoy playing pretty much any sport there is…[in addition to] hiking, being outside, and doing fun stuff with my family.” If her involvement in sports wasn’t enough of a sign that Julie McCullough would one day become Coach Mac, her early interactions with teachers and coaches would seal the deal.
“I have had some teachers and coaches who have significantly impacted my life as I was growing up, and I wanted to be just like them. I knew by the time I was in high school that I wanted to become a teacher and coach to help impact the lives of others. I love getting to know my students or athletes that I coach, and I enjoy trying my hardest to be a role model and someone they can look up to.”
Joining the LSS Team
It’s fitting that Coach Mac learned about Laurel Springs online private school online. “While looking into them a little further and what they stand for, I knew that was the type of school I want to teach for.” Once she started teaching, things only got better. “I love getting to know our students and families. Everyone has a story as to why they are here at LSS, and it is so great hearing success stories and seeing all the wonderful things our students accomplish in and out of school as well!”
Some may think trying to teach kids about physical education through a screen may be challenging, but Coach Mac has ways of keeping them active and engaged. “I encourage the students to get active each day, even if it’s 15 minute daily walks while taking a brain break.” Also, when you’re not restricted by the equipment available in a brick and mortar gym, PE can happen anywhere, as documented in the class blogs. “It is really neat within our PE courses the students will post blogs about their exercise and activities they have completed, but they also have the opportunity to comment on other classmates’ blogs as well. For example, it is awesome seeing students share equestrian experiences with one another, or gymnasts that are competing in similar events as their peers.”
It won’t be a surprise if these blogs record the start of promising athletic careers. “One of the things that I enjoy in PE class is seeing students’ Final PE Presentations which showcases all their exercise accomplishments. I love seeing student athletes that also have goals of playing Division I sports or playing professionally and engaging in conversation about that.”
In the Game of Life
Navigating online school can be a challenge, especially for families new to the concept. Luckily, there’s a trusted team of LSS staff and teachers ready to help coach parents and students along the way. “Online learning does take a lot of discipline and initiative from the student. In the beginning some extra help may be needed as we navigate new territories for a first-time online learner. My suggestion would be try getting a daily routine or schedule and help them stick to it, which can help students be successful.”
On and off the court, it’s not all about sports for Coach Mac. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘the only place Success comes before Work is in the dictionary.’ That has stuck with me throughout my playing and teaching career. When practices get tough…an assignment seems too difficult…a situation with someone gets challenging…I know I need to work at it before I will get success!” And as someone who’s currently living out her dream, it’s safe to say that Coach Mac is on the right track.