Albertville Primary’s new principal, John McDonald, has had his eye on a job in the St. Michael-Albertville district for the majority of his 20+ year career in education.
He began his career in the Big Lake district as a first grade teacher for 10 years. He also taught second and third grade and worked as an educational coach before moving to the Delano district to become an assistant principal in one of their elementary schools.
“It’s a district that I’ve always wanted to be a part of,” McDonald said of St. Michael-Albertville. “I knew from being in Big Lake and working alongside St. Michael and always comparing ourselves to St. Michael, always playing catch-up with St. Michael, that I wanted to work here for a long time.”
McDonald decided to go into education after a stint in the University of Minnesota’s business school, where he realized a business career wasn’t going to be a good fit for him. So he enrolled in the Army Reserves and said he did a lot of soul-searching during his time in basic training.
“That’s when I said I needed to go into elementary education, and it has been a fantastic choice,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine my life without working with kids.”
McDonald comes to Albertville Primary at an exciting time, with groundbreaking on an addition to the school scheduled for mid-September. The new addition will bring eight new classrooms, a common area and some offices to the school. Its completion will allow the district’s early childhood special education (ECSE) program to return to Albertville Primary, where it has always been until the state of Minnesota began funding all-day kindergarten in 2014 and the school needed additional classrooms for the all-day students.
The fast-approaching 2017-18 school year will bring close to 415 kindergarteners to the building and 21 teachers waiting to meet them. He said there are approximately 100 open enrolled kindergarteners among the incoming class, and 50 of them have signed up for the district’s new transportation option for some areas just north of the STMA district boundary.
“It should help our entrance, drop-off and pick-up procedures in the morning,” he said. “It tends to get backed up.”
Overall, McDonald said the main thing he wants the community to know about him is how proud he is to be a member of Albertville Primary and the STMA school district.
“It’s that tradition of excellence that I marvel I get to be a part of here,” he said. “I’m just excited and proud.”