Meet Sarah McKone!
The Graduate School has known Sarah McKone for several years now, both as a CoAT alum and as a curriculum developer for our professional development workshops. Some undergrads may know her as an online lecturer for the Professional Writing program, teaching Communication for Business and Management (ENG 332). Yet, others know McKone through her work with the Shelton Leadership Center for the Y.E.S. Program, which delivers leadership, life skills, and STEM curriculum to children of military families. McKone seems to be everywhere! So, we wanted to know how and why she does it all!
McKone's early life was everywhere, too! She was born in Washington, DC, but since her father was in the Army, the family moved quiet a bit -- from Alabama to Germany and many places in between. But, eventually, she saw her life taking root in North Carolina. She attended high school in Cary, NC, and earned her B.A. in English and history from University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
While at UNC-Wilmington, she met her fiancé who is now a financial planner in Raleigh. They moved to the city because NC State was in McKone's crosshairs, and she wanted to pursue graduate work in the Technical Communication program. She says that Technical Communication was the perfect fit because of her ". . . hybrid interest in English and technology. I've always enjoyed writing, but I found that, through my chosen field, I could combine this passion for text with a knowledge of new media. Interesting spaces, like websites, video tutorials, online modules, and social media, were opened as possibilities for information development."
McKone says that her dual interests in technology and writing also helped her find a unique niche in teaching. But she honed her teaching skills when she participated in the Graduate School's Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching (CoAT) program. She learned about the program through her teaching advisor during her first semester as a teaching assistant. McKone says that she was ". . . very passionate about my responsibilities as a TA, and I set high goals of creating an active and dynamic classroom. After the first workshop, I knew I had found a program that would help me achieve my goals."
She found the CoAT experience extremely beneficial on several levels. She already had a busy teaching schedule, course work, and other internships, but the program provided almost total flexibility. So, she was pleased that CoAT could be completed on a self-paced schedule -- a real advantage to a busy graduate student!
Also, McKone says that each workshop challenged her to consider the classroom in new ways. As she learned more about teaching and learning styles, she also became more confident in her ". . . abilities to create interesting lectures and provoke thoughtful discussions." After a year in the program, McKone says that her student evaluations were improving. And by the end of the program, she ". . . knew that CoAT was one of the most valuable resources NCSU could have provided."
So, could McKone possibly add any more activities to her already busy life? Sure, she can! To date, she presented Characteristics of Digital Classrooms: Researching Parallel Themes in the Active Learning Debate and Distance Education Theory at the 2010 Graduate Student Research Symposium, helped create a new organization for Technical Communication students (ACM's SIGDOC), and completed a research assistantship with the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, as well as completed two internships -- one as an Information Developer for IBM, and the other as a summer intern for the North Carolina Department of Administrations' Council for Women.
As if that's not enough, McKone's TA work for the Professional Writing program at NC State has earned her accolades! In fall 2010, two of her students named her in the Thank A Teacher program. And in fall 2011, she was recognized at the Outstanding TA Award Ceremony. She says that she's really enjoyed her work and the opportunities she's gained as a TA. So, in order to return the recognition, she ". . . focused my master's capstone project on creating a dynamic online community where TAs and lecturers in the program could share their teaching materials."
McKone also has used her TA and CoAT experiences to help expand and streamline the CoAT program. She designed a new workshop ". . . that focused on how TAs could use a free Web 2.0 tool called Audacity to supply their students with auditory feedback. The weeklong workshop was housed in Moodle and included videos, case studies, and forums."
One has to wonder what McKone does in her down time! Does she even have any down time?! Well, she says that she does! She really enjoys developing freelance websites for small businesses, reading for her book club, and refereeing high school women's lacrosse in the spring. And she also likes ". . .watching the Food Network and trying to learn golf with [my] fiancé."
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