Throughout the year, the Eye on Stillwater series highlights those who help our students reach their full potential. It is a chance for the Stillwater community to get to know our teachers, administrators, and staff on a more personal level.
Mr. Michael Cahill, originally from Richmond, Virginia, is new to the Stillwater Central School District this year. He teaches 11th and 12th grade science, including AP Biology, Animal Science, and Ecology. Mr. Cahill worked several jobs before becoming a teacher. He worked at restaurants and did some landscaping, as well as construction. Mr. Cahill also worked at several farms in Virginia, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Cahill received his bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and a master’s degree in Agricultural and Extension Education and International Agriculture and Development from Pennsylvania State University.
Welcome to Stillwater, Mr. Cahill!
What do you like most about working in the Stillwater Central District so far?
Everyone, including the students, teachers, staff and administration have been so welcoming and nice. It really creates an environment where I feel like I can learn and grow.
What do you like about teaching?
I am just amazed at the world in which we live. I love teaching because when I teach, I learn more deeply. I love learning and I hope that I can instill a sense of wonder for the world around us in my students.
What made you want to become a teacher?
Many of my family members are teachers and they always seem to take pride in what they do. Teaching is challenging, but highly rewarding. The opportunity to interact with young people and be someone that they can talk to provides a sense of meaning and purpose to me.
If you could teach a different subject area, what would it be and why?
Probably history. When I was in school I never appreciated history because it was taught as if history was something that had already happened in the past and no longer impacted us now. Now I realize that we are living and making history everyday. This is an empowering idea – that the future’s not set in stone and that we can change the world to make it a better place for everyone on earth.
When you were in high school, what did you want to be when you “grew up?”
I always detested the, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question, probably because I had no idea. In high school, when talking to guidance counselors, I think I told them that I wanted to be a pyrotechnic engineer (so that I could light off fireworks).
What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had?
Well, I don’t know if it is that unusual, but I started up a market garden farm with some friends while studying at Penn State.
What would your students be surprised to know about you?
Maybe that I speak fluent Spanish. Or that I have 3 kids.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to read, plant trees, garden, go for hikes, play with my kids and spend time with my wife.
What are the top three items on your “bucket list?”
This is a tough one. I’d like to create an agroecosystem on the farm that we live on (you may have to ask me to elaborate on that in person), complete a triathlon, and travel to Cuba.
What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?
I am finishing up a book called “The Dispossessed” by Ursula Le Guin, which is pretty good. I’ve been listening to a band called Nahko and Medicine for the People, and my wife and I are watching a show called Catastrophe.
What are your favorite sports teams?
I always root for the underdog!
What is some advice you would give your students?
Be kind to yourself and others. When you are confronted with a challenge, believe that you can overcome it.