Graduating seniors trade cleats for classrooms

Media Credit: Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Lacrosse goalie Mackenzie Jones will teach high school English in a Teach For America classroom in Baton Rouge, La. next year.

A great defender not only prevents her opponent from scoring but also, more importantly, guarantees her team has the chance to win.

It makes sense, then, that graduating seniors Madison Davis and Mackenzie Jones each signed two-year contracts last December with Teach for America, a national organization that assigns recent college graduates to two-year teaching positions where they work with students often in inner-city schools.

Jones, lacrosse’s starting goaltender, and Davis, a defender on women’s soccer, have helped their respective teams excel in supporting defensive roles their entire careers. After Commencement, the pair will trade a Mount Vernon turf field for a classroom, but carry with them that same ability and desire to enable success.

Davis, an organizational science major from Washingtonville, N.Y., is headed to Baltimore next fall to teach elementary special education while pursuing a master’s degree in either education or education policy at Johns Hopkins University.

“I want these kids to believe that even though they have a lot of obstacles to overcome, that should not stop them from working hard and succeeding. I not only plan on being a teacher, but a ‘success enforcer’ in their lives,” Davis said.

The senior defender racked up 1,114 minutes of playing time through 18 games in her final season, part of a defense that finished with an Atlantic 10-best 0.82 goals against average, despite having their stellar 12-6-1 campaign cut short by a double-overtime A-10 semifinal loss to La Salle last November.

Just a few years earlier, Davis had not been so fortunate. The team posted losing records in her first two years as a Colonial and she was sidelined with an injury for her entire sophomore season. However, Davis said what she learned about patience and perseverance throughout her time as a student athlete will only help her as a teacher.

“My four years in my athletic career have had many ups and downs. Being patient got me to where I am today, and the last two years on the field were successful for the team and for myself,” Davis said. “Being patient is essential when teaching children because keeping them on track and giving them motivation to keep working when they don’t understand something is important for their success as a student.”

For Jones, teaching is something she has wanted to do all her life. She was originally looking into programs like the Peace Corps, but on a service trip to Kenya last summer she met someone who had recently worked for Teach for America and realized she wanted to teach within the U.S. instead of volunteering abroad.

She will teach high school English in Baton Rouge, La. next year, giving the Pasadena, Md. native a chance to leave an area that now feels too familiar. Through a partnership between TFA and Louisiana State University, she will also pursue a master’s degree in public administration.

“The job entails everything you would imagine a teacher would do, and much more. You are really full-time, all about the kids you are working with. Sometimes you’re there as a therapist, or sometimes you’re there as a comforting person,” Jones said.

Despite a disappointing 6-10 finish this year, Jones stood tall in the net for the Colonials all season. The 5-foot-4-inch senior started all 16 games for GW and recorded 105 saves on the year, ranking her eighth in the A-10 with an average of 6.50 saves per game.

Jones also holds the fifth-best career save total in program history at 221. The international affairs major said she will incorporate the lessons she learned as a lacrosse player into her “classroom culture.”

“Athletics teaches you so many different things. Obviously teamwork, but also facing adversity, being confident, trying to set high expectations for yourself and achieving small things along the way to get there. I hope to really incorporate all of that into my classroom as much as I can,” Jones said.

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