Debra McDonald, Early Childhood Education and Care instructor at the Wayne County Schools Career Center was named Ohio Teacher of the Year Wednesday by Dr. Richard A. Ross, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction. She is the first Career-Technical teacher to receive such an honor in Ohio. McDonald is now eligible to become the National Teacher of the Year.
McDonald not only teaches high school juniors and seniors how to be early childhood teachers, but also oversees the Career Center’s preschool for 3-5-year olds, effectively teaching two generations of Ohio’s youth simultaneously.
She thanked everyone who had a part in the nomination process, her teachers, her students, Career Center staff, and her first teacher, her mother Joanne Widmer of Rittman.
McDonald has taught at the Career Center since 1994. A graduate of Rittman High School, she also completed the Wayne County Schools Career Center Early Childhood Education program. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Akron, graduating summa cum laude, and her masters of arts in curriculum and instruction from Marygrove College in 2010.
McDonald has been resident educator coordinator, chair of the Employee Performance Evaluation Committee, and chair of the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System Pilot program. She was a past president of the Wayne Association for the Education of Young Children, and was Director of the Year in 2012.
In the community, she was a Girl Scout leader for 20 years, 4-H Advisor for 10 years, and has been Family, Career and Community Leaders of America advisor for 20 years. During a recent Community Appreciation Day, her program held a safety course for children in the parking lot near the lab.
She was named a Career Center Distinguished Alumni in 2002, and became a Master Teacher in 2010. She was named the Career Center Teacher of the Year in May, and received the staff excellence award in 2004 and again this past August.