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First-year teacher realizing lifelong dream at Deady MS

2013 August 8
by HISD Communications

In this week’s I am HISD, which features district students, graduates, employees, and other team members, first-year teacher Larry McIntosh talks about what led him to the classroom at the age of 61, when he realized he had finally found his calling, and why it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.

I understand your journey to HISD was a bit unconventional. What can you tell me about that process?

Larry McIntosh

When I was 20, I dropped out of school and got married, and after three years, I decided I didn’t want to clean carpets for the rest of my life, so I went back to school and got a degree in sociology. At that time, sociologists in Houston were only making about $748 a month, but my bills were more than that, so I got into insurance. I sold insurance for Prudential for several years. Then I got into the fast food business, and I managed fast food restaurants for about 30 years, mostly Wendy’s.

Fast-food management is a pretty far cry from public education. How did you go from that to teaching?

I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in middle school. I had a band director in junior high who really affected me, and I wanted to have same kind of effect on other people. But things happened, and I never really got to pursue teaching.

Then, about two and a half or three years ago, I realized if I was ever going to teach, that this was the time to do it. And I’m lucky. I have a very supportive wife and family. My wife is the one who encouraged me to go back to school, and I have a son who’s 15 and a daughter who’s six now. They all wanted me to go for it. They made an unbelievable amount of sacrifices so I could do this. We downsized from a house to an apartment, and we have only one car now, so instead of having everything they want, now they just have everything they need.

You’ll be teaching seventh-grade science at Deady Middle School this fall. Was that the kind of teaching you originally set out to do?

No. I went back and got my master’s degree online with idea that I would teach at a local community college, but the community colleges all want you to have teaching certificates, too. That led me to HISD’s ACP program, and that really moved me more toward wanting to teach kids.

When I applied for the job at Deady, the principal had me teach a sample lesson. I got in front of those kids, and I could just feel it in my core, that this is where I was meant to be. This was what was missing in my life. This is what God put me on Earth to do. At the end of the lesson, the kids actually applauded. Shivers went down my spine. Next to getting married and when my children were born, that’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened in my life.

You said your bachelor’s degree was in sociology. Did you ever end up using that?

I wanted to be a clinical sociologist and I actually did do it for a short period of time. My problem was that I took my work home with me. I got too emotionally involved with the people I worked with. It was like, “Oh, you’ve been raped and your husband beats you. Okay, see you tomorrow.” It got to the point where I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t do it anymore. You have to be able to separate that and compartmentalize it and I just can’t.

To become a teacher, you went through HISD’s Alternative Certification Program, specifically the Effective Teacher Fellowship (ETF). Do you feel like that has adequately prepared you for the challenges you’ll face in the classroom?

I am 61 years old and I’ve been through enough training programs in the corporate world to recognize if one is good or bad, and the ETF is superior. It is an outstanding program, and the instructors are just top-notch. Every individual I have met through ETF has been a quality person and they really, really care about the success of the participants. Their primary motivation is to see us succeed. They’ve put together a program that is just unbelievable—people like Harry Wong, who is cutting-edge in classroom management. The different researchers and psychologists that they have put together for this program have made it superior.

Wow. At 61, I’d think most people would be starting to think about retirement, not launching a whole new career. What would be your advice to people who think they’re too old to pursue their dreams?

Age is mental. It really is. At 61, I’m the same as I was when I was 30, in my head. Life doesn’t end because you reach a numerical age. There’s no such thing as too old to do anything. We may start having physical limitations, but even those can be overcome. If anyone thinks they’re too old to do something, the problem is just that they think that. It’s a mental attitude. It’s never too late.

If you know a graduate, student, employee, or other member of Team HISD who should be featured here, please email us at info@houstonisd.org.
8 Responses leave one →
  1. moni permalink
    August 9, 2013

    Larry,

    Reading your story and knowing that the work we do on ETF is impactful makes me really proud that you are on our team, excited about the work you will do with kids this year, and is probably one of the most rewarding ‘notes from a student’ I have had the pleasure of reading!

    A Fan of Yours,
    Moni Katial
    ETF-Elementary TDS Team Lead

  2. Sheera Winn permalink
    August 12, 2013

    Congratulations Larry!!!!

    A Fellow Member of ETF Cycle 34,

    Sheera Winn

  3. Liz Goldenberg permalink
    August 12, 2013

    Larry, I was proud to go through the program with you this summer. Your kids will be lucky to have such a thoughtful and motivated teacher. Liz

  4. Karla Cordova permalink
    August 12, 2013

    It was a pleasure meeting you from day one. It was actually sad when we got divided and you were not in our group anymore, we missed the fun. Your story is a true inspiration and I know you will be an amazing teacher. Congratulations!

    A Felow Member of ETF Cycle 34,
    Karla

  5. Kimberly Marion permalink
    August 13, 2013

    You ROCK Larry!!! What an inspirational article!!!!!! Wishing you much luck and good times for this school year!

    Kimberly Marion

  6. August 18, 2013

    Larry,

    Thank you for taking such a big step and joining the fight for the future of our kids, especially at Deady. I made the tough decision to leave their Science Department to help in the ELA department at MC Williams. Your story was the inspiration and confirmation that I needed. I know the students will be in good hands with you. God bless you and your family in your transition to the classroom.

    Congratulations,

    kjw

  7. Megan permalink
    August 26, 2013

    Congrats on your success! So happy for you and proud of you for working hard and reaching your goals!!

    Meg

  8. Diane Shepherd permalink
    September 12, 2013

    Hi Bud! Just wanted to let you know how happy I am that you’ve made this change. I’m sure it’s a really fulfilling opportunity for you. You’re much loved.

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