Episode #131: Making Schools Places of Wellness with Kecia McDonald

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

          
Kecia McDonald from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, is the EL Resource Teacher for the West Hawai’i Complex Area. She is one of 49 public school educators chosen to be a 2022 Global Learning Fellow by the NEA Foundation. The fellowship includes a two-day professional development workshop in the fall and a ten-day international field study to South Africa, where Kecia lived for 14 years.  She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho and also lived in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Your WHY 
To help create the conditions that allow others to succeed at what they are being asked to do, and support them to go beyond and pursue what they want to do.
Joe Sanfelippo talks about focusing on the “get-to”s instead of getting completely mired in the “must-do”s and this is part of my WHY, too. We all have things we must do, and I love to help people succeed at those, but then also to help them utilize their gifts and talents to go beyond the “must-dos” and enjoy the “get-tos.”
Your background, where you grew up
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, more specifically the East Bay. My dad was born and raised in Oakland, California, and was a career firefighter there. I lived in Castro Valley and went to HS in Hayward, California. Castro Valley was very unique, as it was part of this larger, more cosmopolitan area yet had a small-town feel. We still had a rodeo and a festival every year, there was a saddlery shop in town, etc. So it was the best of both worlds, growing up with a small-town sense of community then also running around Berkeley and San Francisco, getting exposed to more urban, multicultural trends.

What it was like for you as a student
I was a traditional, successful student. Straight As, involved in sports and clubs, student leadership, and the whole package. Success at school came easily to me and I totally conformed to the system. Now I can see that the ease of navigating school does not come naturally to many, but at the time I just thought it was straightforward and how “everyone” experienced school.
Your journey as a teacher
My journey as a teacher has not been traditional or straightforward. Teaching is something I came to later in life, and I never had any intention of becoming an educator. In fact, I was that person who would claim loudly and vehemently, “I could NEVER be a teacher!”  I didn’t think I had the patience or the ability to instruct. I felt like if I knew something, I would not be able to break it down in pieces to help others understand. Of course, I have since discovered that it’s not about imparting knowledge but facilitating learning. 
I completed an alternative teaching program and started as a Teen Health teacher at an intermediate school.

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