To commemorate Women’s History Month, Hempstead Town leaders honored Dr. Tonie McDonald, the superintendent of the Levittown School District, and 10 other women for their contributions to the community at the annual Pathfinder Awards ceremony on March 7.
More than 100 people joined Supervisor Anthony Santino and members of the Hempstead Town Board to recognize local women who Santino said are leaders in their communities. “Whether we look at our honorees’ efforts to feed the hungry, study cures for cancer, inspire through education or create jobs as an employer, the women whom we honor at this ceremony are developing opportunities for future pathfinders,” he added.
Award winners were divided into categories. McDonald, a lifelong Levittown resident who town officials said has dedicated her life to the neighborhood and its young people, was the community affairs honoree.
After her receiving her master’s degree in secondary education from Adelphi University, McDonald began her career in education with the Levittown School District, which serves northern sections of Wantagh and Seaford. McDonald taught social students, was on the PTSA and acted s a mentor to new teachers.
McDonald was honored by Division Avenue High School with the Teacher of the Year Award and received the Honorary Life Award from the school’s PTSA. She was promoted to social studies chair and director of pupil services before moving on to assistant business manager and assistant superintendent for business and finance positions. She continued to pursue her education at Hofstra, earning her doctorate.
McDonald explained that, as the leader of the district, her own experiences as a student at Gardiners Avenue Elementary and the former Levittown Memorial High School guide her. Because she is a district alumna and a resident, she said, she’s able to relate to students in a unique way.
“When you’re embedded in the community, you have a vested interest in doing well,” she said. “I really want the best for our students and my neighbors.”
McDonald is also an active member of the Levittown Kiwanis Club and volunteers with the Boy Scouts and Habitat for Humanity, according to the town. In addition, town officials said that she takes the time to help mentor her former students who have expressed interest in pursuing a career in education.
State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt also recognized McDonald last year with the Woman of Distinction Award.