When Megan Schalau first went to college she thought she was doing it in order to become a doctor.
Schalau is originally from Holt, Mich. and attended Michigan State University. She has a younger brother who is now a senior in high school. When she was going to school she would come home on the weekends and help her brother out with his schoolwork.
One day her dad said to her, “Have you ever considered being a teacher? Because I think you’d be great at it.”
Schalau had heard similar responses from her former high school teachers and college professors. She had not put a lot of thought into it but was beginning to like the idea of teaching more – especially after interviewing doctors and learning that doctors do not get to spend much time with their families, and family has always been important to Schalau.
“I think I’ve always wanted to help people in some way,” she said, “and I just realized, what better way to help people than help them get through high school?”
Schalau ended up majoring in education biological science. During the spring of her teaching internship, Dorchester District Two officials came to a career fair at her college. She had a short interview with them and a couple of weeks later she applied online, which led to a phone interview.
“It all just kind of worked out, and I couldn’t be happier about it,” she said.
She is now at Ashley Ridge High School, teaching honors biology and environmental studies. She is a North Charleston resident and said prior to moving from Michigan she had never visited South Carolina. She moved to the area in June 2013.
“I’d heard great things and I knew I wanted to move south – I wanted to get away from the cold winter,” she said.
Schalau is Ashley Ridge High School’s Rookie Teacher of the Year. She said she has learned the hardest thing about teaching has been seeing certain students struggle, or losing students from behavior issues or because they transferred to an alternative school.
“You get attached,” she said. “You want to see them do well and you’re happy for those whom you hear are doing some other form of schooling elsewhere, but you miss them.”
Some of her best experiences teaching have been seeing some of her shy students reach out and become more extroverted in class with their peers, especially the times when students have come up to Schalau and told her they feel comfortable in her class.
“Hearing that you’re a good teacher is always fun and nice,” she said. “I would say really seeing kids break out of their shell has been my best experience.”
Schalau has hopes to get her masters degree, though she is not sure what concentration she wants it in yet. She has a few masters credits from Michigan State but has not applied anywhere in South Carolina. Her short-term goal is to finish her masters and one day go into administration or teach at the university level when she is older.
Aside from teaching Schalau co-sponsors the outdoors club at Ashley Ridge with another teacher. She also coached girls’ lacrosse through Charleston Youth Lacrosse – and the team mostly consisted of Ashley Ridge girls.
“That was really cool because I got to work closely with students I didn’t have in the classroom, so I got to know more kids,” she said. “That was a really great experience.”
When she is not at school Schalau enjoys running, cooking, reading and “other fun old lady stuff.”
She still goes home to Michigan to visit family and friends, and said her family enjoys coming to South Carolina to visit her as well.
Schalau said she likes to hang out in Charleston, downtown Summerville and Mt. Pleasant. Her life goal is to one day have a family of her own and still be teaching. Schalau would also like to one day be able to travel.
“I think the big thing for me is lifelong learning, so that’s definitely a goal of mine – to continue on with that,” she said.