Whether as a student, teacher or administrator, Molly Macek has long been interested in education. This year, her interest in shaping the policies surrounding education led her to become the Mackinac Center’s education policy specialist.
Molly lived in Marshall, Michigan until, at age 12, she moved with her family to the Washington, D.C., area. Her father, a veterinarian, took a public health job with the federal government. The family lived in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Molly attended what she calls “excellent public schools.”
After high school, Molly attended Georgetown University, studying biology and volunteering with an inner-city youth reading program. “For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. And the public school route was really all I knew in the education field.”
Molly’s interest in teaching was displaced by a growing interest in science, so after university, she worked in a microbiology lab in the corporate world. But she returned to higher education,
working as a lab coordinator at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While there, she oversaw lab projects, performed research and maintained clinical databases. She also was inspired, once again, to pursue a career in education, and completed a master’s degree, which culminated in a teaching internship at Einstein High School in Silver Spring, Maryland.
While completing her internship, Molly learned that a nearby private school needed a science teacher. It wasn’t the first time she heard of the school. As a Johns Hopkins employee, she had met an intern, a high school student, in the lab. Molly was impressed with the maturity, curiosity, drive and acumen of this student. It was this student’s school that had a job opening. Molly applied for the job at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Towson, Maryland, and worked there 14 years.
Notre Dame Prep is an independent, single-sex Catholic school, serving girls in grades 6 through 12. Molly taught high school science there, served as department chair, founded the school’s “Women in Medicine” club, and directed its STEAM program.
“The amount of innovation the school had to accomplish to attract students, excel academically and remain sustainable was extraordinary. It showed me the level of excellence that schools can achieve, especially when spurred on by competition,” Molly says.
During her time teaching, Molly also completed a doctor of education degree from Johns Hopkins. She wanted to move into school administration, so she moved with her family to Toledo, Ohio, where she served as principal at a secular private school.
“I really appreciate the positive impact administrators can have on a school or district,” Molly says. “At this level, I hoped to be able to better support teachers and make changes that would improve the students’ learning experience. At the same time, I was becoming increasingly interested in how changes in public policy can have huge effects on teachers and students.”
That led her to the Mackinac Center. She was drawn by the possibility of influencing policy that can have an effect on a whole state, or even the nation. And what better place to do this than in her home state of Michigan?
“Over my years working in schools as a researcher, teacher and administrator, I developed a deep appreciation for school choice,” Molly says. “As a kid, I never knew choices like that existed, and choice and competition have the power to exponentially affect our kids in positive ways.”
Molly is married to Mark, who is an attorney. They have one child who is in middle school and another who is in high school.