WESTFORD — WestfordCAT reached out to each candidate running in the Annual Town Election. Candidates were given the same exact questions and were encouraged to answer them how they saw fit.
Bill McDonald is running for one of two open School Committee seats.
Experience and Education
McDonald has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology Education from Hartwick College, a Master of Education in Special Education from Salem State University and an Education Specialist degree in K-12 Administration, Planning and Policy from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
McDonald spent 15 years as a former paraprofessional and teacher. He is now the current principal of the SEEM Prep Therapeutic High School of the Seem Collaborative. The Seem Collaborative serves students aged 14 to 22 with academic, social, emotional and behavioral needs.
Past/Present Municipal Experience
McDonald was an Eagle Scout and participated in the Rotary Club in middle and high school. He served the community of Hamilton-Wenham with a number of community projects.
Volunteer participation, community involvement
McDonald a soccer couch for the Westford Youth Soccer Association.
What should voters know about you?
“While I have only lived in Westford for two years, I have worked in education for fifteen, and through multiple roles in my school program, I have been able to cultivate a wide array of experiences and education contacts across the Greater Boston region.”
“As a special educator and administrator of a collaborative program, I work on behalf of students and families from over twenty-five communities north and west of Boston. I collaborate daily with special education directors and out-of-district coordinators, public Department personnel (such as DCF, DDS, and DMH), and healthcare and mental health-based agencies and providers such as doctors, psychologists, clinicians, social workers, and care coordinators.”
“Through team planning and discussions, I am acutely aware of the current landscape that our students, families, and staff members live within, both inside schools and in their homes.”
“Much of the work of special education requires individualized planning for each student, whose educational team includes parents, school staff, care providers, advocates, and other professional experts. We set stringent goals and objectives on an annual basis so that they can make the most effective progress within a person-centered plan.”
“We examine and scrutinize data, consider alternative strategies and universal design elements that are research-based, adapt school-wide policies and procedures on a regular basis, and keep each student’s postsecondary vision and future in our horizon so that we can determine pathways that highlight their assets and accommodate their needs in multiple settings.”
“In short, special education sets a solid foundation for the work inherent of School Committees, who implement, evaluate, and adapt policies, procedures, systems, and budgets that align to the broad vision, initiatives, and programming of the district, so that students, families, staff, and other stakeholders can realize successes within the district.”
Why do you believe voters should choose you?
“The COVID pandemic exacerbated what were already strained systems for school districts like Westford around the state and the country. Many students face learning and social gaps that cannot be easily made up. Children and staff deal daily with stressors, anxieties, and mental health issues, with only a finite array of resources or supports available to them both within and/or outside of school.”
“Despite the incredible work they do, educators are tired, and it has never been harder to hire and retain staff in schools. We live in a world where information can be accessed in seconds, and where social media, for better or worse, influences and shapes our interactions with those closest to us. School buildings across the state are in need of repair, renovation, or remodel, and we still rely on dated or inefficient processes that are costly to our climate.”
“We are financially strained in an economy where inflation, costs, and interest rates are high. And we continue to untangle the inequitable structures and systems inherent across our society, that bar our students, staff, and everyday people from feeling safe and accepted, and from accessing resources to live their lives with happiness and meaning.”
“Despite my optimist outlook and glass-half-full thinking, it has never been harder to be an educator than today. Having trained, educated, and grown through my professional and personal experiences, I am deeply aware of these issues because I grapple with them every single day as a principal.”
“One of the reasons my family moved to Westford was because of the excellent reputation of this school district. As a parent of two young children, who will engage in their elementary and secondary educational journeys for the next fifteen years, I share an innate joy and interest in their learning, as well as in the incredible professional talent and expertise that is found across our schools and the systems that have been built and honed within the district.”
If elected, what impact do you hope to make?
“If given a position with the School Committee, my goal will be to bring my experiences, expertise, curiosity, and problem-solving to the table, in order to serve, further refine, and help lead this district through what is a critical junction point in education.”
Candidates were offered the opportunity to record a two to five minute Candidate’s Minute with WestfordCAT.