Jordan teacher wins top educator honor

Dec. 03, 2013 @ 05:53 PM

Jordan High School social studies teacher Brian McDonald has been named the 2013 Claes Nobel Educator of the Year by the National Society of High School Scholars, an international organization that celebrates educators who demonstrate outstanding leadership, scholarship and commitment to community.

McDonald will be honored Saturday during a ceremony at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

He will receive $5,000 to further his professional and educational goals.

“I’m totally flattered,” McDonald said Tuesday. “It provides some validity for the work I’ve done the past 13 years.”

McDonald is part of the Claes Nobel Educators of Distinction program that recognizes educators who model best-in-class practices in teaching, are a positive influence for students and peers and have demonstrated leadership and excellence in education.

A former student nominated him to become a member of the organization, which made him eligible for the award.

McDonald was one of 10 semi-finalists and won a tie-breaker for first place to be the 2013 Claes Nobel Educator of the Year.

“Teaching and educating children is the center of my world,” McDonald said. “This reinforces that I’m doing the right thing in the right career, even though this is a tough state to be a teacher in.”

He said he “values education and hopes to instill the importance of education” in his 2-year-old son.

Since the program’s inception in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 38,000 educators around the world.

McDonald said student engagement, relevance and genuinely caring about students are critical to effective teaching.

He said teachers must also know their material.

“If I’m not prepared and knowledgeable, they know it,” McDonald said. 

Here’s what the selection committee shared about McDonald’s educational philosophy based on the application he submitted:.

“Mr. McDonald believes in pushing his students to think outside of the box, have conversations that are complex, and read above their ability. Because he is a history teacher, he ensures each lecture includes a piece of relevant news in an effort to keep

students engrossed in the material. In addition to his distinctive techniques used to engage students in the classroom, McDonald has also encouraged students to participate in service projects outside of the classroom to benefit others,” the selection committee wrote.

Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes and founder of the National Society of High School Scholars, said in a statement that he is proud to honor McDonald along with the 2013 Top Ten Educators.

“This program reinforces my family’s tradition of the importance of recognizing world-class minds, while supporting NSHSS’s mission of helping students to build on academic success.”

McDonald has taught at Jordan since 2001, and was the Durham Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2009.

He earned a bachelor’s in history education from Elon College with a minor in African/African-American Studies and nonviolence studies.

McDonald received a master’s with a focus in American history from N. C. Central University, with a concentration in African American history.