Tony McGee’s classroom is always changing. From the outside, it may look like a traditional classroom with beakers, skeletons and taxidermy. But what happens inside is engaging students in new ways.

“He makes it fun and easy to learn in his classroom,” said Griffin Doughty, a student of McGee’s at Plainview-Elgin-Millville.

You’ll rarely find Mr. McGee in front of the classroom. He prefers teaching to begin within groups of students and he encourages students to uncover the knowledge on their own, often through hands-on activities.

“Everything I have done in my teaching has been structured to have students to working with each other, not listening to me as the instructor,” McGee said. “I’ve worked really hard for my classroom to be a place where I set up experiences for my students and try to help them get as much as they can from those experiences.”


Results to Replicate

The results are better academic outcomes and a model for other teachers. “His teaching style impacts student engagement and student participation and achievement every day,” Nate Walbruch, principal of Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School.

“It feels like we are this team, working together to try to create knowledge. It’s the way that I’d want every teacher – not only at my high school – to be, but the way I’d want every teacher at every high school in Minnesota to be.”

Unexpected Experiences

McGee spends extra time out the classroom gaining new skills and credentials to bring new opportunities to his students – like access to the Mayo Clinic’s Mobile Science Lab. It enabled his students to experience firsthand how science translates to a rewarding career.

“He will go the extra mile for his students and to make sure that students here at this school are getting opportunities that students in bigger cities might be getting,” said Amy Grover, planning director for the Southeast Service Cooperative.

Educator of Excellence

MREA honored McGee as a 2019 Educator of Excellence for his innovation, collaboration and unwavering commitment to get results for his students. See more stories of Educators for Excellence.