McDowell Academy for Innovation

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Chris Coney » Bio


Mr. Coney is the 11th and 12th grade English teacher at McDowell Academy for Innovation.  He is a Metropolitan State University graduate with a B. A. in Secondary English Language Arts.  He has taught Secondary English for twelve years. He first taught at the alternative school in Buncombe County for four years, and seven years ago transferred to teach at MAI. MAI is truly his home now.  

One of Mr. Coney’s main passions outside of school is mountain biking.  He is the owner of a mountain bike guide service in Asheville called Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventures, which he has run for seven years.  He also hosts a mountain biking club at MAI and goes on a few field trips a year to ride the trails at Lake James State Park and Camp Grier in Old Fort.   He is passionate about health and sports and loves to challenge people in new ways through sports.  

Mr. Coney chose to teach English because it has philosophy, psychology, history, writing, and reading all in one subject.  In his classroom, he has a firm belief that everyone deserves respect, love and care, even though they may not give it to you first. He also believes that you should be kind to everyone, and if you have a voice, it should be heard. His teaching philosophy is that every student is capable of learning and can offer something to the world.  He tries to push students to try new things and believe in their own latent abilities. Mr. Coney pushes students to excel and work hard and his kind demeanor and compassion to all students helps them feel accepted and thus comfortable to work hard in his class.  

Mr. Coney loves reading non-fiction books from subjects ranging from health, philosophy, self help and endurance sports.  He is also a passionate writer and writes a blog on the mental aspects of mountain biking and endurance sports. You can find his blog at Voice of the Blue Ridge.  He tries to incorporate these topics in his classes and model to students that teachers are well rounded in life too.  

As you can see, Mr. Coney has many varied interests and tries to show students that life can be very multifaceted and interesting, but you must work hard to create your dreams.   As a student once said, they were inspired to write poetry and understand readings easier because of Mr. Coney’s passion for English and his drive to understand literature in new ways.  We are glad that Mr. Coney teaches at MAI now, and he is a truly valued asset at the school.