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About Joel McDonald

Joel McDonald being sworn in as a member of the Virginia Beach School Board.

Joel McDonald is a candidate for Virginia Beach School Board running for re-election. Elected in 2012 and 2016, he's represented the Rose Hall district. He has over a decade of experience serving Virginia Beach City Public Schools both working in our schools and as a board member.

Joel's parents met and married in Virginia Beach. His grandparents on both his mother's and his father's side lived in Virginia Beach. His great-grandparents lived in Virginia Beach. While his father's service as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Airforce meant living in Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Japan, Joel has always considered Virginia Beach his home and it's where he spent many of his summer vacations. In 2002, he moved to Virginia Beach to live his with grandparents and finish high school.

Joel graduated from Bayside High School in 2003 with honors and recognitions in career and technical education and advanced mathematics and technology. He was among the first students to attend the Virginia Beach Advanced Technology Center where he completed the Cisco Networking Academy, earning his Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. After graduating and working for a year to save money, he volunteered full-time for his church, serving in various areas in Colorado and Kansas for two years. For part of that time, he served in a church employment office which was open to anyone, church member or not, looking for help finding work, applying for jobs, and preparing for interviews. Joel helped people with their resumes and matched them with open positions.

As Joel helped people find employment, he realized how many opportunities there were to work in school divisions. As he considered his future, and wanting to continue doing meaningful work, finding a position in Virginia Beach City Public Schools became his goal. He felt that working for the school division would be more than just a job. It would be an opportunity to continue serving others.

When he returned home to Virginia Beach in 2006, he immediately set out to achieve this goal of working for VBCPS. He chose to pursue a position where he felt he would do well, that of Data Support Specialist. After three positive interviews, he received two offers and accepted the position at Luxford Elementary School, where he served for six years, from 2006 to 2012.

Working full-time at Luxford and going to school part-time, Joel graduated from Old Dominion University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He also completed an interdisciplinary minor studying the impact of technology on various industries.

While at Luxford, Joel had the opportunity to work alongside so many wonderful teachers, administrators, and support staff. He assisted teachers in identifying students who needed additional help. He found ways to modernize and streamline administrative processes in the school office. As sponsor or coach of after school clubs like running club, flag football club, computer club, and drama club, he had the opportunity to work with students directly. As a School Improvement Specialist, He worked with staff to develop, monitor, and update the school’s continuous improvement plan and helped to organize and facilitate meetings of the Principal’s Advisory Committee. In addition, Joel served as the Building Representative for the Virginia Beach Education Association and as Treasurer of the PTA for a time. At Luxford, he felt he truly did find meaningful work. In 2012, Joel decided that it was time to leave Luxford to begin a small business.

On November 6th, 2012, Joel had the honor of being elected to the Virginia Beach School Board and his meaningful work with the school division continued. In 2016, he was re-elected for a second term. He feels his time on the Board has been an immense honor and privilege. One area of focus for Joel has been statewide and national legislation impacting public schools. As a member, and later chair, of the Board’s legislative committee, he interfaced with Virginia Beach's General Assembly discuss bills impacting our schools and the need for state funding for our public schools to return to pre-recession levels. He was the principal author of the Board’s code of ethical and professional conduct adopted in 2017 and 2019. In 2014, he worked toward the unanimous adoption of a continuing resolution calling on the Virginia General Assembly to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in the Virginia Human Rights Act and saw the unanimous adoption of School Board policies the following year to protect division employees and students from harassment or discrimination based on those characteristics. In 2018, Joel had the honor of being elected unanimously to serve as Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach School Board.

In addition to his work on the school board's legislative committee and as vice chair, Joel also served as the school board's liaison to the Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities, the Virginia Beach Broadband Taskforce, the Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association (HRETA), and the Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee. He has also been an active member of the Virginia School Board Association and National School Board Association, staying up-to-date with issues facing public schools in Virginia and nationwide while advocating for public schools in Richmond and Washington D.C.

Joel is seeking re-election to the Virginia Beach School Board to continue the meaningful work of ensuring that every student has the opportunity to succeed in Virginia Beach, no matter what their background and no matter where they are going after graduation. It's a work he began over twelve years ago and a work that he is best prepared to continue when re-elected to the School Board on November 5th.

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