2018 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Dr. Tonie McDonald
A lifelong resident of Levittown and a product of the Levittown school district, educational leader Dr. Tonie McDonald was a natural choice for superintendent. During her tenure as the head of Levittown schools, she has implemented a variety of programs designed to create opportunities for all students to succeed.
She introduced AP Capstone, a College Board program that provides students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. The program prepares curious, independent, collaborative students to make logical, evidence-based decisions.
A huge proponent of environmental education, Dr. McDonald was one of the driving forces who helped to launch the district’s Outdoor Learning Center. She also spearheaded the restoration of a greenhouse and the installation of a large pond in the courtyard of the district office, to encourage experiential environmental learning. She supported the addition of a science lab classroom, as well as the construction of an outdoor classroom for hands-on instruction in the environmental sciences.
Dr. McDonald has developed valuable relationships on a number of different fronts. She helped to establish partnerships with a variety of universities to enhance college opportunities for graduates; among the district’s college partners are St. John’s University, Molly College and Long Island University. She has led the district to collaborate with the Nassau County Land Trust at Grossman’s Farm to encourage a farm-to-school connection, cultivated a close working relationship with the Levittown Public Library and has enhanced relations with a number of veterans’ organizations.
Dr. McDonald firmly believes in parent outreach, and to that end helped to establish the district’s Parent Honorees University, which provides dozens of workshops each year designed to help parents become active partners in education.
Dr. McDonald was selected for the Governor’s Think Tank for New York’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, was honored as a Nassau County Trailblazer and has earned the Pathfinder Award from both the NYS Legislature and the Town of Hempstead, the NYS Liberty Award, and Hofstra University’s George Estabrook Award for Distinguished Alumni. “We want kids to be happy in school,” Dr. McDonald said.
“We want them to really enjoy being here and the best way to do that is to appeal to the whole child — to make the lessons relevant to them. We create programs that our students will enjoy and that will truly enhance their educational experience.”