Mrs. McDonald: Educational Specialist of the Year


Shalaka Madge

Guidance counselor Mrs. McDonald has been recognized by Morris Hills High School as the Educational Specialist of the Year. Mrs. McDonald is a graduate of Morris Hills. She went to University of Maryland for her bachelors and then William Paterson University for her masters. She began teaching history at Morris Hills and Morris Knolls in 2002, and then joined the MH counseling staff in 2005. Her collegiate program had a concentration in Psychology courses, which made her interested in counseling. “I wanted the opportunity to work one-on-one and in small groups with students,” she explained.

When describing her job, Mrs. McDonald said despite the fact she has to follow a curriculum in Guidance, her job is often unpredictable. “From day to day, you don’t know what to expect.” She considers this one of the biggest differences between teaching in the classroom and being a guidance counselor. “It’s definitely a challenge not knowing, but it’s one of the things I love most about [the job].” Mrs. McDonald talked about the challenges of her job and how she handles them, saying “We’ve gotten creative as a department and work really well as a team to think outside of the box.”

Ms. Rivera, Supervisor of Guidance, said that Mrs. McDonald has the personality of  “a perfect counselor… she’s hardworking, very patient.” Ms. Rivera also stated that Mrs. McDonald loves her students and supports them. Senior Shalin Mehta described Mrs. McDonald as a counselor who “shows utmost respect and care for all of her students.” He considers her a great counselor because she “strives to help [students] find their path to success.”

Not only is she a hardworking counselor, but she is also the dedicated coach of the Morris Hills Girls Swim Team. Senior Mara Russo, a member of the girls swim team for four years, said Mrs. McDonald is “motivating and really understanding. She cares more about us than she does about the sport, and she gives criticism in a constructive way.” Clearly, Mrs. McDonald brings her positive attitude and commendable work ethic to both her roles at the school. This year, the girls’ swim team made states for the first time since 2009. That was the last year of a four year state qualifying streak. Hopefully, this year marks the beginning of another great run for Mrs. McDonald’s swim team. The proud coach declared “Making team states this year was a huge accomplishment for the girls. I am very proud of all of them!”

The Morris Hills community congratulates Mrs. McDonald on her well-deserved Educational Specialist of the Year Award! Mrs. McDonald told me a story about the day she found out she got the award: “It’s funny… I had my hair and makeup done that day and everyone was teasing me, ‘You must have known, you must have known,’ and I was like ‘No I really didn’t, my friend is having a holiday party!’”