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Teaching the Future

By Valeria Flores
Economics Instructor John Donahue

Educators are everywhere. Everyone has something to teach you. According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, an educator is someone who is “skilled in teaching.” As students we encounter teachers that change our outlook on life. We consider these teachers to be so good at what they do that we will recommend these teachers to anyone that is willing to take their class. A prime example of this kind of teacher is Estrella Mountain Community College’s (EMCC's) John Donahue, an economics teacher.

Donahue has been an economics instructor for three years. He initially had wanted to be a teacher because his sister was going back to college. This inspired him to go back to school as well.

"I love teaching and growing my students' understanding of the world. I have a passion for teaching because of the wonderful teachers I had in high school who all had a very positive influence on my life. I strive to give to my students what my teachers gave to me,” said Donahue.

Donahue has an uncommon style of teaching. Instead of going to the book and completely repeating everything, he gives students an overview of the chapter in terms that are easy to understand and that students can relate to.

“If someone doesn’t understand the topic, Mr. Donahue makes sure that they understand by slowing down the class.  He makes sure that you understand what he is teaching,” said Justin Thompson, a sophomore who is majoring in business.

Economics is a tough subject to understand because of the terminology as well as the graphs. Macroeconomics does not necessarily have a lot of math, but it does have a few equations that are difficult to grasp.

“I didn’t understand some graphs and when he tutored me, I understood them afterwards,” Caren Estrada, an EMCC freshman, said.

Previous students know that when Donahue asks you about your day, he does mean it.

“Mr. Donahue makes it known to that he wants to know everyone’s name. He memorizes everyone’s name and greets them when they come into class,” Thompson said.

Donahue had the option of teaching in high school or college. However, Donahue chose to stay in the community college area.

"I first thought that I wanted to teach high school when I began my career change to teach five years ago.  I soon realized that a good portion of high school students would prefer to be doing something else rather than sitting in an economics class!  I figured that I would have a much more focused and mature student body at Estrella and that I could have more influence there, than at the high school level.  I really enjoy teaching at my local community college.  I have had students that I know, or they know my wife, son, or daughter, in every class I have taught at Estrella.  I derive tremendous utility knowing and teaching my students and helping them understand how the world turns," Donahue said.

In high school, it also depends on the teachers if they are going to be good at what they do.

“In high school, I had an economics class and it was a six-week class. It was shorter, but I prefer Mr. Donahue’s passion for teaching. Whenever you ask him a question, you never feel uncomfortable,” Estrada said.

Donahue is one of those teachers that captures your attention with the passion for his classes. He knows what he is doing and has an answer for a question that any of his students have.

"I would like my students to have a better understanding of their environment and the world around them when they leave my class.  My goal is to prepare my students to be successful in life.  I always weave life lessons into my lesson plans and that is one of my favorite elements of teaching.  My wish is that my students realize that as they walk on down the trail of life, they should leave it better and nicer place than they found it," Donahue said.