McKnight's mom and dad weren't regularly employed. "We had the basics," he remembers, "but we didn't have a lot of stuff like my friends." Though his dad, a Vietnam War veteran, wasn't involved much with his son before that, he made a point of dropping him off at college.
"In retrospect, I guess it was out of pride and not an overwhelming desire to rid himself of me," recalls McKnight in an email. "We drove down from Alpena and he unloaded my stuff onto the sidewalk in front of Couzens dorm in 1992. Then he surprised me by pulling out a camera and snapping a photo of the occasion.
"Neither parent spent any money on college for me. I cobbled together enough loans and scholarships to pay the big bills and then I worked 30-40 hours a week at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and bakeries throughout my five years to pay for living expenses.
"Teaching seemed like a natural step after I decided to commit to Latin, so I applied to the School of Ed for my junior year." He graduated in 1997, and landed his first job in a little town called Ardmore, in Oklahoma. "Let's just say I didn't see eye to eye with the administration," McKnight says, "so I resigned and moved back here to be with the love of my life."