Dr. Michael MacDonald is back where it all started.
The Walton Central School District Board of Education unanimously approved MacDonald as the district’s next Superintendent of Schools during Tuesday’s BOE meeting, which was held remotely via the district’s YouTube page.
He will start in the position July 1, and will now lead the same district where he started his professional education career in 1994 as a special education teacher. He actually started earlier at Walton – as he did his student teaching at the district in 1993.
His two daughters are also graduates of WCS.
“I’ve never been away from the community,” MacDonald said. “You don’t often get the opportunity to work for an organization that is deeply ingrained. It truly is coming full circle.”
MacDonald will succeed Larry Thomas, who has served as the district’s interim superintendent for the past two years.
He emerged as the top choice from a candidate pool of 15 applicants. The search was led by DCMO BOCES Superintendent Perry Dewey, who worked closely with Walton’s BOE during the process. The pool was narrowed to four candidates, and then the final two, who each came to Walton to give a presentation that the public had the opportunity to watch remotely.
“Dr. MacDonald’s leadership skills, experience, and knowledge of our district and community definitely made him stand out,” Walton CSD BOE President Ronda Williams said.
MacDonald, 50, received a three-year contract. The Superintendent search began this past January, culminating with remote presentations from each of the two finalists.
“The Board is happy to have completed this process,” Williams said. “It was important for us to find a strong leader in all aspects of governing a district. Someone who will listen and identify the needs of our students and staff, as well as having the ability to enhance the district's offerings.
“To have someone knowledgeable of budgets, technology, and SED regulations, as well as being approachable and have an understanding of our community demographics were all at the forefront,” she continued. “We are confident we have found this in Dr. MacDonald and look forward to him returning to our district and to work beside him for a promising future of WCS.”
MacDonald holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration, and also has a masters in educational administration. Both degrees are from Capella University. His undergraduate degree is a bachelor of science in secondary education from SUNY Oneonta.
Following his first year in Walton, MacDonald spent four months as a math teacher in Alaska before returning to Walton. A graduate of Hancock Central School, he’s spent the majority of his life in the area and spent the next 17-plus years at WCS in a variety of positions, including dean of students, high school principal, middle school principal, director of secondary education, and the district technology administrator. He also coached numerous sports.
After leaving Walton in 2013, he served as the Director of Pupil Personnel at Hancock for the next two and a half years before joining DCMO BOCES as the assistant superintendent of instructional services. This past July he became the deputy superintendent.
Coming back to Walton to serve as Superintendent will also allow him to return to something he truly loves – being around students and being part of the community.
“I miss it,” he said. “Being with students and teachers and being out and about – that’s what it’s all about. Seeing students perform – artistically, athletically, and academically – I really enjoy that.”
When MacDonald begins July 1, his entry plan is centered on four top goals. This plan is one he will be working on with the Board of Education, and there are action steps that lead to each goal. Those goals are:
- Relationship building
- Knowledge building
- Prioritization/strategic planning
- Local/regional/statewide relationships
MacDonald said he’s excited to be back in Walton and is ready to get started.
“I’m ready to roll,” he said. “I look forward to getting in, seeing where we are, and building collaborative structures.
“Coming in during this - #WaltonEvolving, to me it’s a community and a school district doing just that,” he continued. “We’re building respectful relationships and I look forward to continuing that and building on it.”