Professor Matt McElligott is the award-winning author and illustrator of 18 children’s books that have sold nearly a half million copies around the world.
So, some might wonder, why does Professor McElligott teach?
Well, in part, because he can’t help himself. He feels compelled to teach, to share what he’s learned, and, in no small measure, to be inspired by his students. “This is by no means a one-way street,” he says. “I get as much as I give, and maybe more.”
He goes on to say, after 22 years in the profession, “I also love it. I’ve got a class coming up this afternoon and I can’t wait to get there.”
When asked what he finds most satisfying, Professor McElligott doesn’t hesitate. “When I see a student who’s struggling, who maybe lacks confidence or direction, and then the day comes when that student finds it, when I see how far he or she has come, that’s profoundly satisfying. If we’ve helped them find their voice, if we’ve helped them work through a problem, and can take a small part of the credit, that’s a rush.”
He uses the word “we” because the other part of his life at Sage that delights him is that he and his colleagues are in the experience together. He knows each of his students well, as do the other professors in the department. “Together, we discuss what we can do better, what we can do to help bring out the best in a student.”
Professor McElligott remembers a graphic design student who graduated a few years ago and is now working for the Biden political campaign, traveling around the country with the former vice president. “Maybe in some small way we contributed to that success. That’s why we’re so lucky to do what we do.”
And, one can’t help but conclude, that’s why this student was so lucky to have had Professor McElligott and his colleagues as his teachers.