With more than 40 years of professional experience, Jane A. McDonald, EdD, was an associate professor with George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, from 1999 to 2008, having been an associate professor of education leadership with The George Washington University in Washington, DC, from 1989 to 1999. Prior to obtaining these roles, she was assistant superintendent of schools with the Niskayuna Central School District in New York from 1988 to 1989, an executive fellow with the National Academy of School Executives at the American Association of School Administrators from 1987 to 1988, and a high school principal with the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado from 1984 to 1987. Earlier in her career, Dr. McDonald was a high school administrator and Title I teacher with the Fairfax County Public Schools from 1974 to 1984, and a fifth grade teacher with Prince George’s County Public Schools from 1971 to 1974 and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools from 1966 to 1971. She also taught in Detroit Public Schools.
Dr. McDonald began her career as a student at the University of Florida, where she obtained a Bachelor of Education in 1961. Following this accomplishment, she continued her studies with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, earning a Master of Education in 1978 and an EdD in 1987. Dr. McDonald was notably a member of the American Educational Research Association, the American Association of School Administrators, Phi Delta Kappa International, the International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership and the Virginia Professors of Educational Leadership.
Throughout her career, Dr. McDonald has been recognized for her contributions, including having been nominated among the 100 Top Education Leaders in the United States by the National School Boards Association, and receiving the Outstanding Contributions to Women’s Fencing Award from the Washington Metropolitan Fencing Association and a Presidential Fitness Award. In 2006, George Mason University presented her with an Outstanding Teacher Award, an all-campus honor. In light of all her accomplishments, Dr. McDonald has been featured in numerous honors publications, including Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Education.
Dr. McDonald became involved in her profession because she was told all through her life by others, even as a young babysitter, that she should be a teacher. They would tell her that she explained things well. Instead, she wanted to be a social worker. She dropped out of college and traveled for two years throughout Europe, as her sister was based there. On her return from Europe, Dr. McDonald decided to speak to an advisor, who told her she could either do teaching or nursing. She couldn’t be a nurse because she could not stand the sight of blood, so she chose to teach. This decision worked out well for her and for others.
Moving forward, Dr. McDonald would like to be remembered by her peers as someone who loved her family, who was curious, an avid learner and also had a real passion for helping students learn, both as a teacher and an administrator. Wholly, she is someone with high standards. Dr. McDonald’s favorite part of her profession is watching the growth of students, no matter what age. It is a delight to see them grow into great leaders and become more self-confident.
The lessons that Dr. McDonald can pass along to future generations is to always be curious and be a learner. She advises those looking to pursue her field to do three things: observe what goes well and learn from mistakes, help other people and ask the questions that help others learn.