About Heather McDonald
Heather McDonald was a dedicated educator who truly believed that, with the right tools, any student could achieve academic success. Heather worked in education for more than 20 years; first as an elementary classroom teacher, then as a K-8 Literacy Coach, K-12 District Coach, and eventually a college adjunct instructor. Though she served in a variety of roles, she was especially dedicated to supporting students in learning how to read. Her passion for literacy led her to seek out best practices in education, and then serve as a mentor to fellow educators.
Heather continually sought out resources to improve outcomes for her students. For example, she volunteered with the Augustine Literacy Project and excelled in implementing their curriculum. Heather then connected with Helping Education and our Helping Early Literacy with Practice Strategies (HELPS) Program. Heather not only implemented HELPS with her own students, but trained as an Implementation Coach and went on to instruct other educators in our curriculum in both the HELPS One-on-One and HELPS for Small Groups trainings. In her own words, Heather was extremely proud of her work with the HELPS program and was inspired by the progress she saw from her students.
One core aspect of Heather’s personality was her resilience. In the classroom, she did not let anything stop her from providing students with a high-quality education. In 2018, her Greensboro classroom was hit by a tornado, destroying everything. Heather went above and beyond by purchasing materials and re-designing her temporary classroom to be warm and welcoming for the students as they returned. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Heather again went the extra mile to find new and creative ways to engage her students—using an adorable Alpaca puppet to help hold her students’ interest while they learned remotely. Her efforts showed how much she cared about her students’ academic performance and their comfort as they learned how to overcome adversity.
Heather’s resiliency was tested again in the fall of 2020 when she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor. Heather handled her treatment and diagnosis with grace, even as she and her family faced additional challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions. Sadly, she passed away in December 2020. She was a loving wife (of 20 years) and mother of two. Heather will be deeply missed by all who knew her.