It took Mikal Lundy a month to realize he’d picked the wrong career.
Spending his days as an assistant manager of sales for Fastenal Co.—an industrial supply company, which specializes in selling fasteners—did not suit the outgoing Towson University graduate.
“The first month was OK, but then from that point on, every day I was looking for another job,” Lundy recalled. “I was like, ‘This is not for me.’ I need to be working with people. I like helping people. I like talking to people.”
His job search took him to the City of Burlington School District, where he spent four years as a behavioral specialist working with troubled high school students, which entailed overseeing groups of students to help curb bad behavior, working on behavior modification plans, handing out detentions (“The kids didn’t like me for that”), and occasionally driving students to drug tests.
Once he settled into the job, Lundy knew he was in the right place.
“I was like, ‘THIS is what i’m supposed to be doing’ ... I like seeing a kid go from here and seeing a kid change to there,” he said.
Now, the 31-year-old former All-American D-1 running back is getting set to take the reins of his very first classroom at , where he’ll be teaching “Career Planning” and “Computer Essentials” this fall.
Lundy described it as a natural progression from his experience as a behavioral specialist in Burlington. He already knows how to interact and connect with students; the key now is translating that skill into effective classroom teaching, and Lundy is approaching the challenge with the same dogged resolve he’s tackled everything in life.
“I don’t think you can over-prepare, and that’s what I think is going to help me,” he said. “To teach the kids, you have to internalize the information, you have to know the information, you have to master the information, and then you’re able to deliver the information."
Of all the rewarding experiences teaching offers, Lundy said he's most eager to witness the learning process firsthand.
"That’s why we’re all in it, to see the kids go from A to B. From you putting together lessons, you spending time at night working hard, rehearsing, going over how you’re going to tell the kids the information. Having it go from here," he said, pointing to his head, "to paper, to teaching the kids, and then seeing them get it.
“In everything that I do, I always succeed, and I’m going to succeed at whatever I do," he added.
That’s not to say he isn’t experiencing some level of anxiety (though he’s had some help calming his nerves thanks to teacher mentor Peggie Morgan). But getting up in front of a group of 20-some students shouldn’t faze Lundy, who’s used to performing in front of thousands of people, whether on the gridiron or delivering a 30-minute sermon to a captive audience of 3,000 people.
While pursuing a Master of Divinity in seminary school, Lundy had to give a Christmas Mass sermon at the Cathedral International in Perth Amboy. Of the experience, Lundy had this to say about his nerves: “Oh my God.”
But once he settled into a groove, he said, he was calm.
He finished seminary school in 2009, and though he ultimately decided the path of a preacher was not for him, the experience will aid him in the classroom.
Given his background, Lundy’s given some thought to coaching football. But not this year. This year is all about becoming the best teacher he can be.
“Because this is my first year, I want to develop my craft at teaching, become good at it,” he said. “I’m just looking to learn. This is a learning experience. In order to grow as a teacher, you have to experience the first day. You have to go through the nervousness … in order to get refined at your craft. I’m just looking forward to the first day, to get things going.”