Mac Porter is an English teacher at MEK Review that teaches SAT Foundation Plus, SAT 1400, SAT 1500, Critical Reading Circles, and Critical Writing Circles, and is a College Essay Coach.
The following is an interview between him and our marketing coordinator!
Teaching at MEK
Interviewer:. What is your favorite part of teaching MEK students?
Porter: I like the human element of working at MEK and the diversity of students the MEK community has.
There’s so many levels of diversity at MEK – racial, cultural, geographic – even the age diversity. Where else could I teach a 4th grader in the morning and then teach an SAT prep student that is a rising senior in the afternoon?
Interviewer: What is the best advice you have for students on navigating learning in a virtual world?
Porter: Don’t lose your routine. I think it’s super easy when you’re in the virtual world to lose that. It’s a world where you don’t even have to leave your bedroom, or get out of your pajamas to go to class. But once you lose any semblance of routine, all bets are off. You’re at the mercy of your capricious whims, and this can affect your learning, your mental health, and quality of life.
Interviewer: Speaking of mental health, I heard you recently were accepted into a doctorate of clinical psychology program where you will be seeking your Psy.D. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about that?
Porter: I’ll be attending the Wright institute in Berkeley, California. The first 3 years, I’ll take a combination of classes on the theory of psychology and how to provide evidence-based interventions and field work with a supervised caseload of local elementary school students.
In the final two years, I’ll have a clinical internship where I will work with a mentor towards certification while managing my own caseload of patients.
Interviewer: Is psychology your passion?
Porter: Definitely. I think mental health has reached a crisis in the U.S. today. And it’s an issue that doesn’t get enough attention as it is still stigmatized in far too many ways.
And I’m passionate about psychology for the same reason I enjoy teaching at MEK. I have a passion for people – connecting and getting to know people – and then leveraging those relationships to positively impact their lives.
I don’t think there is anything more valuable that people can do with their lives than try to have a direct and positive influence on the people around them.
Ivy League Advice
Interviewer: You are also a proud graduate of Cornell University. What advice would you give students who want to attend Ivy League colleges?
Porter: Yeah, let’s go Big Red!
My advice would be to not take yourself too seriously and to always find balance. The Ivy League is a good fit for some people, and a bad fit for others.
Yes, you should take your academics seriously. But don’t just focus on the Ivy Leagues. Focus on yourself – what you value, what you care about, and finding a collegiate community that will fit with you.
Cornell was a good fit for me, but that’s because the classes and the culture fit with my personality and values.
Plus, I always made time to balance out academics with having fun with my friends, playing intramural sports, and finding a campus community.
Interviewer: . There’s a rumor going around that you are the biggest sports fan at MEK Review. Even bigger than Tony (Exam Prep Director, Tony Kim). Are the rumors true?
Porter: Tony is not even close, and I find this question insulting. Tony has one team – the NY Giants – and I bet he couldn’t even list the entire starting lineup. I love every sport from baseball to hockey to football to golf. I have been so starved for live sports during quarantine that I spent an hour watching a cherry pit spitting competition on ESPN the other day.
It is a total non-competition.
Interviewer (laughing): Well, you have another reputation at MEK Review: It’s for being unfailingly enthusiastic, energetic, and humorous in your classes. But you teach, proctor, or tutor 25 sessions throughout the week. How do you manage to give every class 100% effort?
Porter: So growing up, I was a big Jon Stewart fan. And I remember, one time Chris Wallace, a Fox News anchor, confronted him with his jokes about the channel and said, “how do you come up with this stuff?”
And Stewart replied, “It’s actually quite easy. When you feel it. You gotta feel it in your soul.”
That’s how I feel about teaching.
I don’t do anything I’m not passionate about. I wouldn’t be working at MEK if I wasn’t passionate about teaching students. So for me, it doesn’t really feel like effort. It feels natural to be in that moment with my students and help them learn the material.