A Closer Look with Mr. Martin McDonald Interview with Mr. Martin McDonald, Principal of Jordan Matthews High School

How long have you been with Chatham County Schools (CCS)/ Jordan Matthews (JM) High School?

I came to CCS five years ago. I was hired on July 1st 2010 as the principal of Jordan-Matthews High School.

Where did you work prior to Jordan Matthews High School?

Prior to JM I worked at Ragsdale High School in Guilford County where I served as an assistant principal for five years. I was a social studies teacher at Ben L Smith High School in Guilford before that as well as an IB teacher and IB Coordinator. Before moving to North Carolina in 2000 I worked at Tennessee School for the Deaf.

What lead you to become a principal?

I have always been drawn to high needs schools and quickly learned that high needs schools often have difficulty attracting and retaining the best teachers. I wanted to have the opportunity to create the type of school I felt those students most deserved. I wanted to become a principal so that I could find, hire, grow, and retain great teachers who understand that not every student may come to school equally prepared to learn but that does not mean they do not have the same potential for excellence.I wanted to be a part of creating schools that students, families, and the community could be proud of being a part of.

What changes are you personally trying to implement in your school?

We are working hard to build a culture of academic excellence. We are working with students and families to understand that they are not competing against the best of Siler City or Chatham County. They are competing against the best of the state and the best of the nation for both post secondary educational opportunities and the money to pay for them. The hardest part of our job is to help young people understand the limitless potential and value they carry inside of them. Our students control their future outcomes and we have the privilege of partnering with them to help them turn that potential into reality.

What is something that you didn’t expect about being a principal?

I think what has surprised me the most about being a principal is the how much of your time can be eaten up by small day to day matters. You have to set aside time to work on the big tasks you want to get accomplished. If you are unable to do that your time can easily be consumed by managerial matters.

What is the biggest challenge your school is currently facing?

One of our greatest challenges is helping students believe in the potential that we see in them and helping them learn the skills of hard work and perseverance required to help transform their realities and unlock their potential success.

What changes do you see happening to Jordan Matthews High School over the next 5 years?

I think the greatest change over the next five years at JM will be in the way that teaching and learning will take place. The difference between 20th century and 21st century teaching is that teachers are no longer expected to be masters of the content, now they are expected to be masters of the context. Students have access to more content now than at any time in the history of the world. Content is accessible on their phones, ipods, ipads, laptops and any connected device so readily available. We will be seeing a shift away from the teacher as the disseminator of information to the facilitator who helps guide students to access information on their own and then process that information for value and meaning. We will be moving towards more project based learning where students work in collaborative learning teams to investigate and solve real world problems.

What’s something we might be surprised to learn about you?

I think most people would be surprised to know that I enjoy archery and shooting with my two children.

Article by: Jaime Detzi

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