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Learn From the Best: GRCC Assistant Professor of English won the job lottery

July 29, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sean Mackey will be quick to tell you that GRCC has the best students in Michigan, and that he’s proud to be the one teaching them the critical thinking and empathy skills they’ll use in the career they pursue.

“Teaching at GRCC feels like winning the lottery,” Mackey said.

Mackey is an assistant professor in the English department, and the faculty advisor for the literary portion of Display – a magazine featuring GRCC’s best and brightest artists and writers.

Mackey mentors student writers and poets as they seek to publish works in creative writing, non-fiction writing, short stories, essays, short plays and poetry. 

In the classroom, he leads with listening, and allows students to find their own path. Mackey’s students think of him as a great professor – laid back, but effective.

“He is very clear with each assignment, offers help after every class if needed, works with you when life happens, provides great feedback, he just makes class fun,” one student shared.

During the pandemic, when “life happened,” Mackey changed what he taught as well as how he taught it. For example, for one of his common assignments, reading and analyzing Allen Ginsberg's poem ‘Howl,’ he would have led a discussion to analyze cultural, historical, and social similarities and differences between the 1950s and today. To flip this assignment for online learning, Mackey took a note from crowdsourcing.

“I created a Google Doc and asked students to add four lines that mimic the style of Ginsberg if the poem was written today,” he said. “I treated the document as a wiki, and students built the poem collaboratively throughout the week. Some students submitted anonymously while others added their names."

Student’s can experience Mackey’s passion for poetry and unique approach to teaching in EN 233 Poetry, EN 242 Popular Literature, IRW 99 A-Comp (Accelerated Developmental Composition), and EN 101 English Composition.

Mackey earned his Bachelor’s of Arts in Writing and Literature: Poetry from Naropa University. He went on to earn a Masters of Arts in Literature, with a focus on Postcolonial Lit. and American Poetry, from Grand Valley State University.

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