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State Superintendent Presents Ohio Teacher of the Year Award

Release date: 11/6/2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Richard A. Ross announced Akron-area resident Debra J. McDonald of Wadsworth as the Ohio Teacher of the Year today at a surprise assembly at Wayne County Schools Career Center in Smithville.

McDonald has taught high school students since 1994 in the center’s Early Childhood Education and Care program. She also operates a fully functioning preschool at the career center where her students gain practical experiences as assistants.

“High-quality teachers move the needle on student achievement, and Debra has enjoyed a rare opportunity to move the needle for two generations of students at the same time,” Ross said. “Debra’s career-technical education students are getting high-quality, hands-on learning experiences that will allow them to enter the workforce confident and competent. The boys and girls in the preschool she oversees also are getting high-quality early learning experiences that will last a lifetime.”

In nominating McDonald for the award, local administrators praised her contributions to the school community and the teaching profession.

“Deb personifies the definition of an exemplary educator. She strives to be her best and to ensure that all students are successful,” wrote Kip Crain, superintendent of the Wayne County Schools Career Center. “Her creative, relevant and hands-on approach to teaching difficult concepts and skills keeps her students engaged and motivated.”

Matt Brown, the career center’s principal, wrote, “McDonald demonstrates passion, commitment and professionalism every day in all that she does. She creates engaging learning experiences for students…and helps them reach their full potential.”

Ohio’s new Teacher of the Year creates opportunities for her students to supplement their high school classes with hands-on learning in the career center’s preschool with similar field experiences in the community’s other preschool, child care and school-age program settings. They learn about the care and education of children from birth to grade two, including children with special needs.

She has guided several students towards national recognition for their skills and knowledge through competitions of the Family Career and Community Leaders of America. She also has served in many leadership roles with that organization on the national and state levels.

McDonald serves as a leader in the Ohio Resident Educator mentoring program for beginning teachers as a state advisory group member and her district’s program coordinator. A member and licensure committee chair of the Ohio Educator Standards Board, she also has served on an advisory panel for development of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, and is chairing the local committee for implementing the system at the career center.

McDonald holds the master teacher certification, which is a recognized path for an advanced level educator license in Ohio. She also is a past president of the Wayne Association for the Education of Young Children, which selected her as director of the year in 2012. She is a member of the National Association for Career Technical Education, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Marygrove College and is a summa cum laude graduate in education from the University of Akron.

The 2014 Teacher of the Year was selected from nominations submitted by schools across the state. Nominations were reviewed by a statewide panel of representatives from a range of professional organizations and school constituencies, including teachers who have been recognized for their excellent performance in the classroom.

The Ohio Department of Education initiated the Teacher of the Year program in 1969 to honor and promote excellence in teaching and the teaching profession, and to build a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in school improvement initiatives.