Community Features

A Toast to Professor David Michael McKinney, Faculty Advisor to the Point (1975-76)

By: Susan Agee Borland (Class of 1976)

We understand the profound effect of a true teacher!  It takes a personal connection between minds (Vulcan mind meld) to inspire a student. One is not a teacher, nor human for that matter, only within the hours of class time. A true teacher becomes an integral part of our lifelong thinking. Michael McKinney has had a profound effect on us.

While studying Russian with McKinney we read a short story by the Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin. I was amazed at the influence language has on perception. I found myself having thoughts that couldn’t be reflected in English.  I read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Nobel Lecture” and learned the importance of the compassion that can be created by the artist’s ability to touch you.  The spirit of creative expression became a rallying cry for a certain group of rebellious students to voice the outrage of the times.

In my first year of teaching third grade, I had a student blurt out that he had forgotten his lunch. We discussed possible ways of solving the problem. After ideas of calling home and friends sharing food, I told them about the story of how Siddhartha believed the strongest life skills were thinking, fasting and waiting. Jake, a serious eight-year-old then shared what he thought were the most important traits to have. Soon I had a class of third-grade philosophers! It was not a part of the curriculum, but I knew who inspired this moment. I am certain that, collectively, we have continued to inspire the notion of dynamic thought into our personal habits.

We are forever grateful to McKinney and his generosity of heart and mind. His availability and support of student discourse and dialogue speak to the soul of education. I know that each of us has a personal experience with Mike that has influenced each life.  I know his humility is as true as his sense of humor, and we cherish and honor his legacy.