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Northwest Missouri State University


Student Spotlight

Emily and Ethan McLean benefitted from the hands-on experiences available to education majors at Northwest, including the Horace Mann Laboratory School on campus.

Emily and Ethan McLean benefitted from the hands-on experiences available to education majors at Northwest, including the Horace Mann Laboratory School on campus. (Photo by Darren Whitley/University Relations)

Dec. 12, 2013

Education program brings couple together, prepares them for success

High School sweethearts Emily (Kisker) McLean and Ethan McLean are proud of their shared time at Northwest Missouri State University as they graduate and embark on teaching careers.

Emily, a Maryville native, completed her degree in elementary education, while Ethan, a Platte City native, completed his degree in elementary education with a special education emphasis. Ethan will begin teaching special education Dec. 16 at Excelsior Springs High School, and Emily plans to substitute teach and coach basketball at Platte County Middle School.

But the Bearcat pride they now share wasn’t always mutual.

The couple, who married in June 2012, met as high school athletes in 2008 at a track meet. They began dating that summer, but Ethan, who is two years older, headed to college in the fall as Emily finished high school. 

“I left to go to college at Pitt State, which her Northwest alumni family wasn't too fond of,” Ethan said.

When it was time for Emily to choose a college, she opted to stay close to home and attend Northwest.

Fate eventually intervened as Ethan changed his major from psychology and military science to education. As he began considering his options, he was attracted to Northwest’s special education program. Emily had no trouble convincing Ethan to attend Northwest then, and he transferred.

Ethan’s decision prolonged the time it took him to earn his college degree, but he doesn’t regret his decision.

“I look back and I love it,” he said. “The general education courses made me a more well-rounded person who is going to be a teacher, and I developed professional relationships outside the classroom. I don’t think a lot of schools have that. The people at Northwest help make the students more well-rounded and make it a better learning environment.”

While attending Northwest together, Emily and Ethan developed strong friendships with peers in the Department of Professional Education as well as in campus organizations, including Campus Crusade for Christ. They enjoyed tailgates and attending football games, too.

“Just being in Maryville, it’s obviously played a big role in our lives,” Emily said.

Most of all, Emily and Ethan benefitted from the hands-on experiences available to education majors at Northwest, including the Horace Mann Laboratory School on campus. Both spent the fall trimester student teaching in Platte City.

“The education program at Northwest is awesome,” Emily said. “We had heard a lot about it, and it met our expectations. The teachers are really caring, and all of them knew us by name.”

Added Ethan, “I’ve interacted with a lot of principals from other schools and when they hear you’re from Northwest, they have a higher expectation for you. They know that you know what to do. That goes back to how good Northwest’s program is. It has prepared us well for graduating and getting jobs right away.”


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468