Teach Middle East Magazine Jan-Feb 2018 Issue 3 Volume 5 - Page 36

Featured Teacher MDONNELL TENNER ENJOYS A FULFILLING CAREER LEADING SCHOOLS OVERSEAS M Donnell Tenner was born and raised in the United States of America, where he spent a large portion of his adult life in Minnesota. He is the only boy in a family of three sisters. He was a very active athlete in his younger days, taking part in football, basketball and track & field. Even though he loved sports, his parents ensured that his primary focus was his education. They ensured that he attended school every day, there were no excuses. His parents were also strong believers in developing the “whole” child, so they insisted that he contributed around the house by doing daily chores. As the only boy, he oversaw shovelling snow, cutting the grass and taking out the trash. All this hard work certainly paid off as MDonnell is now a respected educator and school leader, who is enjoying a great career leading schools overseas. Let’s get to know a little more about this educator, author and school leader. Who was your favourite teacher? Why? My favourite teacher was Ms. Kennedy at Eastern Heights elementary school in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She was a very kind woman. She was committed to her craft and ensured that all her students left her classroom better than they came in. She kept her expectations high and ensured that, I not only excelled academically but that, I also developed socially and emotionally. She saw in me what I could not see in myself. What inspires you most? I am inspired most by the ability to go do what I love and that is working with children, staff and families. Being able to participate in the students’ learning process, by teaching and supporting teachers, students and parents, is food to my soul. Share two major challenges that you faced. How did you overcome them? A major life challenge presented itself when I was hospitalised, and the doctor said I might have cancer. I have 2 children and I did not want them to be fatherless. I prayed, exercised and listened to the doctor’s words and got myself back in shape and good health. That was one of the most frightening times in my life. A second major challenge in my life was when I was hired to turnaround a struggling school in the Middle East. It was my first time in the region and I was new to the Arabic language. As I struggled with the language, I noticed something very interesting. The students and staff were using more English to make me feel more comfortable and taught me Arabic as well. I was humbled by their efforts to welcome me into their community and to make me feel at home. This gave me great impetus to do the best job possible. I worked hard and was able to help put that school on the path to success. I left that experience with a fond love for the Middle East and its people. What are three key qualities that every leader should possess and why? The three key qualities I believe that every leader should possess are;