Receiving this award would not be possible without the unwavering encouragement from and collaboration with the students, educators, and parents with whom I have had the honor of working. This is proof that when you give students the tools that are necessary to become thinkers, problem solvers, and self-advocates, they can reach their highest potential. When mathematics is accessible for all, all can achieve. I am humbled by this award and cannot wait to see what lies ahead on this journey.

Ellen McDonald Walled Lake, MI | K-6, Mathematics, 2018

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Ellen McDonald has been an educator for 17 years and has spent her entire career at Walled Lake Elementary School. She has taught all subjects in kindergarten, third grade, and fourth grade. Recently, Ellen has taken on a new role as her school district’s mathematics and science instructional coach. While Ellen enjoyed teaching all subjects, she has a particular love of mathematics. Shifting a child’s mindset so they could see themselves as a mathematician was the spark that inspired her. As a teacher, Ellen worked to incorporate real-world problem solving strategies into her daily instructions. Students collaborated, shared their thinking, and justified their reasoning strategies. Beyond the classroom, Ellen began sharing her love of mathematics with the teachers in her building, district, and county. Her leadership among her colleagues resulted in a shift in practice. Specifically, she helped teachers embrace the Standards of Mathematical Practice and inquiry strategies. She serves on the district mathematics council, district curriculum council, and the building leadership team. Ellen earned a B.S. in education and a M.A. in teaching in reading, both from Oakland University. She is certified to teach all subjects in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms and mathematics and social studies in a middle school classroom.