Monday, June 5, 2017

Thank you Dr. Robert Burns McDonald III


Quite possibly, the most influential teacher I've ever had.

Obituaries don't do much justice to people.

You've got to understand something about my teaching career. It was hard. Sometimes prejudice would come from your own people. I remember my advisor, a latina, telling me I couldn't survive my first year of college. It was shocking. Not because she doubted me, but because I thought, "What if she's right?"

Well, God will send you exactly what you need and who you need. Dr. McDonald and his wife are such a gift! He believed in us. I don't think there was a teacher who believed in us like he did. He made us believe we could not only teach, but be the BEST and encouraged us every step of the way. I remember starting his class, and feeling so incredibly dumb. It was science. I HATED science! I sucked in science all my high school years. (I took Pre-AP chemistry, so I was usually with the geniuses anyway) I remember he dropped off boxes at each group. I started going through the WHOLE box in anticipation, showing my sister, "Hey, what's this for? Hey! Look at this!!!" and the whole class stating, "You aren't supposed to touch anything!" Dr. McDonald had walked out and when he walked in, everyone ratted me out. It was embarrassing! LOL And you know what he said? He told the class, "As teachers, you will say things, like "Don't touch". But actually, you will have someone like Christina, who will touch, get EXCITED, and there's your HOOK! Let them touch! Don't get mad at your kids! Let them explore!" And with that, was my first lesson in loving science and realizing that the smallest acts of love will have the BIGGEST impact on your students. That lesson impacted my whole teaching. I felt so small and then he made me feel like I was SUPPOSED to do it wrong! I made a choice that day. I wanted my students to feel how Dr. McDonald made me feel. And then he introduced us to his wife and I couldn't believe there was another person like him!!!!! So loving and so knowledgeable and so incredibly humble. They were SUPER RICH in knowledge and they gave it away freely. I'm pretty sure if they were billionaires, they'd be giving out $100 bills everywhere, because their generosity with their time and knowledge knew no bounds. I mean, I LOVE science and sharing it with my students! I started Family Science Night because he showed us and taught us and took us to people who put on AMAZING Family Science nights.

you know that saying, "They won't remember what you taught, only how you made them feel." It's actually true for normal people. But for extraordinary people, the greats of the world, you'll remember what they taught AND you'll remember how they made you feel. The only reason I know, is because I was taught by on of the greatest people God put on this earth. I remember what he taught and how he made me feel. I only hope to be as amazing as he was.

God Bless you Dr. McDonald. Thank you.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Robert Burns McDonald III, 67, passed away at his home on the Lamar Peninsula on May 29, 2017 with his wife and daughter at his side. Robert was born in El Campo, Texas on February 9, 1950, the only child of Velma Jo Joiner McDonald and Robert Burns McDonald, Jr. After graduating from Gregory-Portland H.S. in 1968, he attended Stephen F. Austin State University where he fell in love with his wife of 45 years, JoAnn Montes, and completed his B.S. in elementary education. Robert went on to earn an M.S. in curriculum and instruction from Corpus Christi University and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Texas at Austin.
Robert taught at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels in the Texas public schools for 14 years, exciting students about science and the world around them. He happily taught much of that time in Ingleside ISD. He spent the last 15 years of his career teaching at the university level at California State University-Long Beach, Southwest Texas State University, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He inspired many preservice and in-service teachers to teach science with gusto, helping them connect their students’ real world experiences with the “big ideas” in science. Dr. McDonald presented workshops for science educators at the regional, state, national, and international levels, and has published numerous articles in journals of teacher education.
Robert was extremely proud to be a native Texan and enjoyed learning and talking about the many generations of his family who were born and raised in Texas. He loved the beauty and diversity of Texas and spent as much time as he could camping, fishing, and exploring the forests of East Texas and the rivers, bays, and estuaries of Texas coast. One of his greatest pleasures in life was teaching his grandchildren to fish in the waters around the Rockport/Fulton area.
R.B. was an adventurous soul and a life-long learner. He earned a black belt in Taekwondo, raced sailboats across the Gulf of Mexico from Corpus Christi to Vera Cruz, and built a geodesic dome where he spent the final year of his life. For many years he was an avid runner and cyclist. Robert loved to watch all Texas Longhorn sports and burnt orange was his favorite color.
He is survived by his mother, Velma Jo Joiner McDonald, his wife, JoAnn, and daughter, Amber Star McDonald Donihoo, one granddaughter, Alexandra Elise Donihoo, and a grandson, Robert Aidan Donihoo. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Gary (Charlotte) Montes, Sr., two nephews, and a niece of Nacogdoches, TX and two cousin/siblings, Penny Sue Benner Payne and Pat Benner. Survivors also include his Aunts Irene, Leotha, Billie, and Margie, as well as several cousins.
A private family memorial is planned for a future date. Those wishing to remember Robert should donate in his name to their favorite charity or scholarship.

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