Thursday, October 2, 2008

Author teaches English online

Published Valley author Margot McDonnell is a whiz at crafting spine-tingling adventures.
Last Sunday McDonnell was at Changing Hands Bookstore talking about her latest novel Torn to Pieces published by Delacorte Books.

But she’s also gifted at translating her expertise of the language to its most basic form as a developmental English teacher at Rio Salado College.

A creative writer with a flair for words, McDonnell finds great satisfaction teaching students who aren’t quite ready to master college-level English classes.

A long-time Advanced Placement High School English teacher, McDonnell has been teaching English at Rio Salado since 1993.

“I really enjoy the people I work with now. My students are really grateful for any help they get,” McDonnell said.

Teaching punctuation, sentence structure and correct grammar online can be challenging.
“It takes a special person with a lot of talent to teach developmental English online and Margot is “the best,” Betsy Frank Rio Salado College English Faculty Chair said. “She’s just awesome with students.”

McDonnell is also fond of the online format. A travel buff, McDonnell said she doesn’t like to leave town if she’s teaching an in-person class. But as an online teacher she can pack up her laptop and hit the road.

“I can still keep in touch with my students through the Internet. It’s really easy for me,” said McDonnell.

Writing has always been a passion for McDonnell. She began writing at seven by imitating stories she had read. By the time she was nine she was writing her own original stories sometimes as a takeoff from a famous version of the tale. She once wrote a story about Cinderella’s life after she got married.

An avid reader, McDonnell admits she had a wonderful childhood growing up in Wisconsin with inspiring examples to follow. Her Dad wrote eight volumes of his life story complete with photographs and her mother composed music.

McDonnell spent just over a month writing her second novel, which is targeted for young adult readers. The story is of a young girl whose mother disappears. From early on McDonnell vowed someday she would write a book the entire family could read.
Being a published author is a “total thrill” for McDonnell.

“I really like being a published author. This time I knew I had something that was publishable,” said McDonnell who belongs to a writers group.

The writers group provided invaluable criticism of her new book before she sent it to be published.

“They told me every flaw. They were so good,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell's new book is available at local bookstores and
Rio Salado College has more than 1200 adjunct faculty who teach nearly 450 courses. Most are accomplished professionals well-versed in their subject area.

Rio Salado College is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges with more than 60,000 students. The largest college in terms of headcount of the Maricopa Community College District, Rio Salado offers courses in general education classes like English, math and science along with a variety of degrees and certificates all online. For course registration or more information about programs call 480-517-8540 or go to