WTHS Teacher Leads Big Revolution!


Francis Klingenberg

Dina McCaffery often goes up in front of the class and starts her lesson by asking the students how they are.

“What happened?” she asked a student, eyebrows drawn high and her face tilted. The student in question had a leg cast from just above his knee down to his foot.

“I got hurt playing football,” Jeremy said. “I’m all good, though.”

“Well, I am so glad to hear that,” she said with a lilt to her voice.

“That sounded so sarcastic,” deadpanned a student from the back of the class.

“I would never,” she laughed. “For real though, I hope you feel better, Jeremy.” McCaffery then went into her lesson on analyzing Super Bowl ads.

McCaffery was my Digital Production teacher for just one year, and she inspired me to become a journalist. She spent countless hours helping me with my videos and guiding me in a direction that I wasn’t sure about myself. She pushed me past my college fears and possibly changed my future in a great way.

It’s this teacher who works day and night to enrich the lives of students. She cares more than most, she loves more than most, and she teaches more than most. While other teachers may teach their subject and leave it at that – McCaffery brings all parts of life into her lessons.

“She’s like a second mom that I never knew I needed,” said a student in passing. This sentiment is shared by many. McCaffery may teach a subject that isn’t part of the Common Core, but she makes it one of the most important classes one could take. She is leading an unspoken revolution that she doesn’t know about.

McCaffery is a teacher at William Tennent High School who wears many hats besides just teaching. On top of teaching eight classes, she is in charge of the morning announcements which are live-streamed to the school. She records and edits the school board meetings, as well as any official proceedings that take place in the district. She also acts as a mom to every student that takes her class.

She has a face of a mother – wrinkles from worrying about every one of her students. Many affectionately call her a nagger, although she says, “I just don’t want anybody to fail my class.” She has a bright smile that she tries to hide whenever she is proud; but she can’t hide that twinkle in her dark eyes. She has long, jet-black hair that would help anybody point her out in a crowd, if she wasn’t so short.

Somewhere in that hair is a pair of glasses with a red frame that has gotten lost sometime last week, and she keeps looking at a watch on her wrist that really wasn’t there – she had forgotten it at home today. Besides all that, you could tell that this short, sassy lady had a big heart, even if you can’t see it just yet. It is this teacher that I say is leading a revolution – a revolution that not even she herself sees.

McCaffery hasn’t always been a teacher. She actually started out on the same path that I’m taking – pursuing a journalism major. She earned her degree, and went to work for the Northeast Times, a Philadelphia newspaper. After that, she went to work for the Bucks Courier Times. She enjoyed every second of it, and wouldn’t take it back for the world. “I still have every single press badge,” she admitted with a cheeky grin.

When the person in charge of starting The Metro in Philadelphia couldn’t do so because she was sick, McCaffery stepped up to the plate. The Metro is a Swedish newspaper that is given away for free on the SEPTA. McCaffery was able to start it up and get it running.

She then went onto Broadcast Journalism. She told me that, “I had to do an interview with a sports athlete, but he was in the locker room.” She obviously couldn’t go in because it was the men’s locker room, so she knocked on the door. “He opened up the door, I kid you not, butt-naked,” she told me. “In the news business, you have to keep a professional face, so I kept my eyes on his and interviewed him right there,” she continued.

After the interview was over, she found out that he was really impressed with how she never looked down.

Besides a colorful career, she has always been interested in teaching. She decided to make the move after being a PR director for the Lower Moreland school district. She gestured with her and said, “That’s where I learned I had to teach.”

And teach she does. Every student who was asked about her only had good things to say.

Chris Kajkowski, a senior at WTHS, said that McCaffery honestly cares about her students. “I feel like I can trust her to care about my work, and my feelings,” he said. Not many teachers are like  that.

Kajkowski also mentioned that she revitalized his passion for being creative. “She encourages all her students to try new things, and that’s what made it so special to me, “he admitted.

Many students have the same sentiments, saying that she has a unique teaching style. It’s what makes her classes so popular.

Jeremy told me that he wasn’t hurt at all by McCaffery’s attitude with him. When asked why McCaffery was sarcastic with him, Jeremy explained, “she does that with everyone because she’s very friendly.” He then said, “it’s like we’re a family.”

It’s this sense of family that helps the students learn and experiment, which is exactly what McCaffery wants. Sarah, a junior at WTHS, said , “She makes me want to learn again, and I’ve hated school since middle school.” She continued, “Mrs. McCaffery cares about me, and I don’t want to let her down.”

“Most teachers just care about the paycheck,” she finished.

McCaffery is leading a revolution in teaching just by how she cares. It’s obvious that the students care about her, and it’s transforming how they learn. Students are becoming re-invigorated with school because of McCaffery.

Most teachers clock in and out each day just working for a paycheck, and they fail to appeal to students and their sense of learning. Students fall asleep, skip class, and miss assignments because of that missing connection. McCaffery has unknowingly cracked the formula.

Her classroom fosters a sense of family. This sense allows for experimentation and creativity that allows for higher level thinking that isn’t found normally in other classrooms. She actually cares.

I had her as a teacher, and she inspired me to a path that I never thought I would ever consider. She allowed me to test the waters in her classroom, and ultimately has changed my life forever. She is leading a teaching revolution that nobody sees, not even she sees it.

Dina McCaffery is an example of how a teacher should teach, how a teacher should interact with their students. It is revolutionary, and it can change schools forever. The effects that come from this teaching style are extraordinary. It creates a passion for learning. It allows for creativity and room for error. It lets students feel comfortable with their work. It makes students interested in school again. It changes lives.

This short woman with a huge heart is leading a teaching revolution.