The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Life After Parker

Pat McHale continues teaching career
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

After years of refereeing third grade dodgeball games, supervising sharks and minnows,  and coaching Middle School basketball, Patrick McHale now spends his time enjoying the smaller things in life and facing a different type of teaching.

McHale was a cross-divisional P.E. teacher at Parker for 34 years. He retired from Parker after the 2018-2019 school year. 

He launched his Parker experience in 1980 as a parent but soon became a teacher as well in 1985. He has also taught at Mather High School, Benito Juarez Community Academy High School, Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, and currently Champagne Juvenile Detention Center.

“Mr. McHale was always willing to help, give advice, and share his knowledge.” Cross divisional physical education teacher Terry Davis said. 

McHale moved to Champaign, Illinois after retiring with his wife to slow down in a quieter town. Recently he visited Vancouver and the Canary Islands, but as he’s gotten older, he realizes that he “looks forward to the small pleasures in life.” He says that he gets the most thrill out of visiting his granddaughters in Chicago and Las Vegas.

In his free time, he likes to read, go to the gym, and take walks, but he admits that “most of the time I prepare for my classes,” which are at the Champagne Juvenile Detention Center. It’s a maximum security facility where “I have to go through five locked doors before I get to my classroom everyday.” When asked how he got his job, McHale stated, “I went into the office to get fingerprints taken. When I came out, the district superintendent stopped me and said she had a job for me, and the rest is history. That was four years ago. It’s really hard to fill positions in correctional facilities, so it was fate I guess.” He teaches for an hour and 30 minutes to incarcerated youth about health and social studies. 

While McHale says that it can be sad work at times, “I had people that helped me when I was their age, and I feel like this is something that I need to do and want to.” He hasn’t lost his dedication to educate, support, and inspire his students. 

“On birthdays he would let people pick whatever game we wanted to play for P.E. When it was my birthday he let us play hide and seek and Four Corners,” sophomore Lousie Hall said. “He was really fun and engaging, and he also brought his granddaughter to class and she was really cute.”

Freshman Aragon Goldman remembers a unique experience he had with McHale involving his twin. “When Oberon and I were younger, Mr. McHale would always get our names wrong. It would be a made up name every time. No matter what, he would get them wrong. So after years and years his final goodbye was perfect. He got both of our names right and in order.”

He talked about how good and safe the Parker community is, but he also said that “it’s not always smooth, and sometimes it’s extremely difficult, but so is life.”

When asked what was his favorite grade to teach, he said “I liked them all,” but added that “the hardest grade was kindergarten. He later said that his favorite grades were the juniors and seniors because they were more “receptive to things.”

McHale will be 75 in March and is contemplating if this will be his last year at the facility. While he is a resilient human being, the wear and tear of the environment can have a large impact. 

“I think that I grew tremendously as an individual by being associated with Parker,” Mr. McHale said as he reminisced on his Parker experience. “Whether you know it or not, everyone at Parker gets a good education.”

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