Teacher Spotlight


Melina Garcia

Mr. Sean O’Connell is a humanities teacher here at McClancy. He teaches junior American history and senior sociology.

How long have you been a teacher at McClancy?

“I’ve been a teacher here for four years”

Did you always want to be a teacher?

“Not at all. When I went to McClancy I felt that I did want to come back and teach here for some period of time. So that was something I had always fantasized about. But then when I went to college I really liked studying about cities and city planning. I have a masters in urban planning. I honestly was never sure. I was happy with being open to my options.”

What made you want to become a teacher?

“The ability to be able to work with people that are your age. I previously worked with kids that were on probation as an intern for a couple of summers. I really enjoyed working with them because I remembered how isolated and misunderstood I felt as a teenager, like every other teenager. I remembered the people at McClancy who worked with me and that I felt like they got me. They understood my interests, where I was coming from, and my ideas about the world. One person in particular like that was Mr. Daniel McNally. He made me love being in the classroom and prove that I could think outside the box. He made me fall in love with literature. When I got the call saying there was a position open, that’s why I flew at it.”

What is your favorite part about being a teacher?

“Learning from and learning about my students.”

Are you aware of how much the student body admires you? How does that make you feel?

“I’m a little bit aware. I’m aware I have a good relationship with my students. That’s because I truly care about them. I feel good when a student feels really excited about learning and the world around them. I want people to debate and feel like they can share their opinion.”

Do you ever miss your classes/students after they graduate?

“My first class, the class of 2021, has a special place in my heart. I think about those students a lot because my first year was so overwhelming. Everything was brand new. I wouldn’t say I miss them necessarily, but I remember them fondly. Some of my favorite memories include having conversations with my students during lunch. I’m able to get to know those students better in comparison to other students who are just in and out of my class. But you have to move on and go forward.”

How has McClancy changed since you were a student?

“Since I was a student, I think that the values of the students have changed to a certain degree. There are a lot of students now that are aware of what’s going on in the world. It might not be a ton of students, but a lot more than when I was here. The students now are absorbing and being exposed to so much media at a young age, like certain issues in society. There’s also a lot more younger teachers and some that have a lot of energy towards the profession.”

Do you have any any advice or words for the class of 2023?

“Explore in college. Don’t settle on one career path going in. College is a place to discover your interests, your ideas, and challenge the way you think about the world. Take whatever class sounds interesting, you have time to finish. Also apply to CUNY schools.”