Neither Rick Wade ‘85, nor his daughter Meagan Wade ‘13, considered a career in teaching until they each found themselves in elementary school classrooms by happenstance.
Rick had intended to major in political science at UMBC, but began to reevaluate when he did poorly on an exam in a government class. He transferred into one of the few classes still open – an education class. Through the required weekly practicum at Arbutus Elementary School, he discovered he really liked working with kids, and ended up majoring in education and history.
Although Meagan grew up with a teacher for a father (in fact, Rick was Meagan’s 4th grade math teacher at Hampton Elementary, the same school where he still teaches today), she had never envisioned following in her father’s footsteps.
“I saw how much work was involved, and I was like, I don’t want to have to do that,” she explains.
Not to mention the fact that it’s not always easy being the daughter of the teacher. On having her father for 4th grade math, she says playfully, “It’s kind of like a running joke – he was the only teacher that year that gave me a B and everyone else gave me an A. I still hold it against him.”
After graduating from UMBC with a psychology major, Meagan began looking for a job in social work, but her dad suggested she apply for an opening at his school as an Additional Adult Assistant, supporting students with special learning needs. She got the job, and before long, Meagan fell in love with the classroom, much to her own and her father’s surprise.
“Then I saw the other side of it, and then I understood. I had never seen that side of teaching before. It was really nice to see the classroom side of it and how rewarding it could be,” says Meagan, who earned her master’s in teaching in 2016.
Rick believes his influence may have been indirect. “I didn’t overtly encourage her,” he says. “What I did, I guess, was just enjoy what I was doing.”
After two years as a 4th grade teacher in Harford County, Meagan has now joined her father in Baltimore County Public Schools, where he has been teaching for more than 25 years. She is teaching 1st grade at Norwood Elementary. Theirs is a unique father-daughter bond, enhanced by their professional relationship.
“I definitely ask him for advice a lot – like how I can get a student to focus more, or I may run a lesson by him,” Meagan explains, but adds that it goes both ways.
“He’s come and helped me set up and break down my classroom the last two years, so some of the things he’s seen me do, he says, ‘that’s a good idea,’ like using fabric instead of paper on bulletin boards, things he’s done a certain way for years and has never thought of doing (differently),” she says.
Rick concurs and recalls how he consulted Meagan when Baltimore County began using a technology-based program for recording students’ reading abilities that she had been using in Harford County for two years. He says she also offered suggestions about how to handle classroom management while administering the test to students individually.
They recollect fondly how they collaborated on a class writing project while they were both teaching 4th grade. In a previous year, Rick’s class had written to penpals in Wales, so he proposed a penpal project to his daughter as a fun vehicle for teaching writing skills.
“Her class and my class were pen pals together,” Rick says. “We had the kids write by hand so they could work on handwriting and practice paragraph writing skills and going through the writing process.”
Meagan adds with a chuckle, “We talk about work a little bit too much. I know it annoys my mom when we’re at dinner.”
— Cait James ‘01
Photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC Magazine