Skateboarding science teacher recognized as ‘Teacher of the Week’

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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — The ability to flow confidently on a skateboard is no easy task. Like any other skill, it requires patience and dedication.

Tim McAuliffe has been an avid skateboarder since 1985 and he says the sport has taught him a lot about life.

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“It’s pretty much how I relate to most everything in the world,” he said. “It teaches you that you can totally not know how to do something, and try, try, try and practice and you will be able to do it.”

McAuliffe has taught 15 years of which the last seven have been at Pender High School in Burgaw where he teaches ninth grade earth and environmental science.

Recently, WWAY received a ‘Teacher of the Week’ nomination in which McAuliffe was commended for not only being an excellent teacher but “also an active skateboarder and musician.”

On the day we visited the school, students were making a scale model of the solar system and learning earth’s relationship to everything else in the universe.

“I feel I’m making a difference,” McAuliffe said. “I am helping the next generation know how the world they live-in works.”

He says its important for students to know how to weigh scientific fact from fiction.

“These guys are going to be the ones voting on things and there’s huge issues having to do with science and earth science,” he said. “We have to make sure they have a good foundational understanding of stuff so they’re just not fooled by someone who tells them some made-up story.”

Occasionally, he talks about skateboarding to engage students in his lessons.

“I definitely try to make it give me some type of street cred, yes, because I’m quite a nerdy individual, so for them to see some side of me that they might think was in some way cool, I really try to go for that,” he said.

Capitalizing off his ‘coolness factor’ to connect with teens, says Principal Carolina Goodwin, is one of McAuliffe’s many traits.

“Mr. McAuliffe has actually worked with our Community in Schools coordinator in helping to let students join a skateboard club where they get to participate in an extracurricular activity with a teacher which helps to build relationships with our students,” said Godwin.

What he does outside science class to get to know students on a personal level is just as noteworthy.

“I often see him having lunch with students one-on-one or in small groups,” she said. “They do enjoy being around him all the time and I think that creates a safe space for students where they feel like they can go and talk to him about anything and not just academics.”

So what does McAuliffe think about being recognized as WWAY’s ‘Teacher of the Week?’

“It’s great, amazing, a complete surprise and yeah, thank you very much,” he said. “I appreciate it.”

If you know a great teacher like McAuliffe’s who deserves recognition as our ‘Teacher of the Week,’ click here to submit a nomination. Be sure to describe what they’re doing in the classroom to creatively engage and inspire students in the classroom. Each week’s winner receives a $100 gift card thanks to our sponsoring partner, Down East Heating and Air Conditioning.