Staff Spotlight: Julianne Donoghue

Staff Spotlight: Julianne Donoghue

Julianne Donoghue joined the Upper Campus Math Department at the start of the 2017-2018 school year after teaching for several years in Charlotte, NC. Julianne started her teaching career as part of Teach For America after she graduated with a degree in business administration from NC State University. She decided to give two years to Teach For America because she believes that education is one of the most sustainable ways to make a difference in the world and she recognized the incredible educational privileges she had growing up. Julianne believes in the saying, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime,” and felt called to make a difference in schools that were in need of teachers who truly cared about their students. During those two years, Julianne saw students accomplish things they never thought were possible. She taught alongside a great group of teachers that worked tremendously hard to motivate and empower students. After her two-year commitment was done, she felt called to stay and continue the projects she had started.

Julianne’s heart for the underprivileged is something that characterized her well before her time with Teach For America. In high school, Julianne and two of her classmates created a project called the Giving Tree. Julianne and her classmates modeled their project after the concept of the Angel Tree seen at Christmas. Instead of Christmas presents, the project provided third graders at a local elementary with a new book of their choice as many kids in that school did not have a book to call their own. The students decorated bookmarks with their book request which were then hung on trees for people to select. They partnered with churches and stores to display the trees. At the end of the project, they presented the books to the third graders through a book giving ceremony. In advance of the ceremony, they asked some of their classmates to dress up as book characters and the students loved it! Julianne recounts, “It was such an awesome experience to see the kids so excited to have a book of their own. The coolest part is the high school students have continued to do the project each year. This year when I was home for Thanksgiving, a high school student in my church made the announcement that the Giving Tree was starting and I was so excited that they continue to do it each year!”

 Not surprising given what we’ve already learned about her, when she was in college. Julianne traveled to South Africa to volunteer in an orphanage for a month. She lived outside a township and traveled to the orphanage during the day to teach English. She shares, “It was such an awesome experience and South Africa is so beautiful. It was truly life-changing to see people that have so little live life so fully!” As an added bonus, while she was in South Africa, she got to go on a safari and go shark cage diving with great white sharks.

 When asked to share her view of ministry, Julianne replied, “I believe that you can minister to those who are right around you every day. I love to be in community with others. I currently host a bible study for young women out of my apartment. It has been amazing to see God work through the time we spend together each week. I am reminded that serving God and making disciples does not have to be a complicated thing. It can be as simple as opening up your apartment and your heart to sharing how God is working in your life.”

We asked Julianne to share her favorite Bible verse and she selected Matthew 22: 37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Julianne believes that this verse sums up what we are called to do with our time on earth. We are called to love God first and to love others. This means to love everyone, even people that are vastly different from us. In order to live like Jesus, we must live out this verse. Julianne knows that sometimes we get caught up in everything we are supposed to do or not do and she thinks this verse simplifies it. If we love God and love one another, we are able to live a life that glorifies God.

When asked how she ended up at GRACE, Julianne was quick to credit God with choosing GRACE for her. She was teaching in Charlotte after completing her commitment with Teach For America and looking for jobs in Raleigh and Charlotte. She applied for a job at Charlotte Christian (where GRACE Head of School started as a teacher), but they filled their open position from within. At about that time, Mr. Bradley reached out to his former school and asked if they knew of any good candidates for math and Julianne’s name was passed on. When Mr. Bradley reached out to her, Julianne was really struggling with what to do next and feels that God gave her a clear sign to stay in teaching. Once she visited GRACE, she immediately felt that the school was a special place to be. From the students to the teachers to the administration she felt God’s love and grace. She states, “God was and is so faithful through the process that I felt good that this was His plan for me.”

As a teacher, Julianne wants her students to be able to see that joy that comes from living a life for Christ. While there are many trials and hardships in this life, there is also so much genuine joy. She wants them to know that they have the opportunity to find joy in each day and be able to live life abundantly. Julianne shares that her favorite part about teaching is the opportunity to build relationships with students. She loves getting to know them and watching them grow over the course of the year. Julianne shares, “It is such a humbling profession and I consider myself extremely blessed to be able to teach every day.” She loves helping students to learn how to have a growth mindset. She believes that any student can be a great math student if they are willing to work hard!

Julianne grew up in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. She moved to NC from Baltimore, Maryland in the 2nd grade so she claims North Carolina as home. She is the middle child and has an older sister and a younger brother. She loved being the middle child because she felt like I got to be friends with both her sister and her brother. She is also very close with two of her cousins and is the proud aunt of her nephew John Davis.