After growing up all over, Alec Macaulay arrived in North Carolina in 2003 and promptly bolted his feet to the ground. After achieving his childhood dream of going to Duke, he didn’t quite know what to do next in life. A friend from a service club capitalized on Alec’s indecision and flatly told him “You’re joining Teach For America,” and in so doing, helped shape his passions, career trajectory and life as a whole.
Alec earned his degree from Duke University before joining Teach For America in 2007. Less than two weeks into his time teaching, Alec had a “lightbulb” moment: The inequity his students faced made him angry, and the desire to right that wrong became his passion. After two years in the high school classroom, Alec returned to Duke for his Master of Arts in Teaching so he could continue work as a teacher.
Aside from a few brief existential crises that led him to work for political campaigns, Alec spent the next five years teaching high school math and social studies in Durham and then with Project LIFT in Charlotte. Most recently, Alec was a strategist and educator for Kiwanis International, a global service organization dedicated to helping children.
Alec has previously served as a curriculum specialist with Teach For America, was selected as an emerging leader with New Leaders, and is a charter member and past president of Kiwanis Uptown. Alec lives in Charlotte with his partner-in-crime, Mia and oversized-lap-dog, Mungo. He enjoys playing tennis and rooting for his two favorite teams: Duke, and whoever is playing against UNC!
I aspire to be like Atticus Finch. Here’s why:
Atticus Finch is a fictional character from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. But in that story, he represents the very real moral compass of society and exhibits traits that I hope to embody in my everyday life: A willingness to challenge the status quo he knows to be wrong and unjust; a belief in defending and advocating for those who do not have a voice; an ability to calmly explain situations and persuade others; and a steadfast respect for every person, regardless of race, class or circumstance.
Why I love my job:
I love working to give students and families whose voices are often left out of the decision-making process a chance to be heard. My students deserved it and so do all of the other kids here in North Carolina.
We are not there yet, but working toward a vision where every child has the opportunity to get an outstanding education is invigorating and exciting.
My connection to public schools:
I’m a product of public schools in Virginia and Illinois. My parents were the type to take school tours and hold sit-down interviews with principals before even looking at which neighborhood to call home. While I remain eternally grateful to them for those choices, they never should have had to make them, because every child should have a great school to attend regardless of whether their parents can choose their own neighborhood or not.
My parents also made a commitment to me very early on in life: “Whatever college you can get into, we’ll find a way to get you there.” I recognize now more than ever what a blessing that was, and the sacrifices made along the way to make it happen. Now I want to ensure that every child can have that same chance.
What I’m bad at:
Completing tasks ahead of time! I work best with a deadline, but I’ll use every minute I have until it arrives.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
These images are of two of my former students at Project LIFT Academy on graduation day. Both of them overcame tremendous adversity so they could walk across that stage, and each one worked incredibly hard to complete more than 2.5 years of credits in only 10 months in order to do so. All they needed was the opportunity—a school community and learning environment willing to give them the support they needed and the chance to prove what they could do.
I will fight every day to make sure that every child in our state and nation has a school community and learning environment where they can thrive.