Mr. Maher: Teaching Students to be People, Not Just Test-Taking Robots


Mr. David Maher, a fourth year teacher at Coginchaug, turned to teaching after starting out as an actor in New York City. The spark for his love of theater was his brother’s eighth grade production of The Pirates of Penzance, “It was probably bad, I’m guessing, but at the time to me it wasn’t,” he explained. “To me, I saw all the performances, and I remember like, when I’m in eighth grade I’m gonna go up to the play.

Mr. Maher explains “Macbeth” to one of his students. Photo by Seth Azevedo

He loved the craft and emotions of acting so much that, to stay with it, he became an English teacher, originally in Harlem before moving to Connecticut. Although Mr. Maher most enjoys the sections of the curriculum which allow him to teach Shakespeare and revisit theater, his favorite class is English 10 because of the themes taught throughout the year.

Ideas and how to think are what Mr. Maher believes is most important to teach, and so the themes of Culture, Leadership, Language and Power, and Insiders vs. Outsiders provide him an opportunity to teach his kids not just how to be students but his ultimate goal, how to be people. “This may be the last rhombus you ever see… but you need to be a person, right, you need to be a person,” he says, explaining why he tries to instill empathy and integrity in every one of his students.

The energy and enthusiasm Mr. Maher brings to class makes him an engaging and interesting teacher. Rather than lecturing at his students, he engages them in discussion and conversation. What does senior Dawson Hettrick enjoy most about Mr. Maher’s Shakespeare course? “He’s a cool guy,” Hettrick said.