Mrs. LaRhonda Donaldson is a District Director of Curriculum for Miami-Dade County Public School District (MDCPS) in Miami, Florida, with 25 years of leadership training, and comprehensive educational knowledge. Her quest for educational excellence has led to recognized school improvement and continuous academic turnaround. As a seasoned leader, Mrs. Donaldson has homed in on a result-driven skill set that has garnered rewarding roles with increased responsibilities. She has served in the capacity of faculty member, instructional coach, assistant principal in middle schools and K-8 centers, and principal in an award-winning magnet school. In her current role, Mrs. Donaldson is part of an extraordinary team that is leading the nation in innovative, diverse, and inclusive magnet programs. Additionally, she is the Project Director for the STEM Pathways Project, a $14M grant that MDCPS received to redesign two high schools and one elementary school. She is responsible for the successful implementation and sustainability of the programs which includes revamping facilities and learning environments, creating the course of study, ensuring Career and Technical Education (CTE) industry certifications, and building solid partnerships that will lead to career and college pathways.
Recognized as one of 83 school leaders in the State of Florida, Mrs. Donaldson was selected to participate in the Florida Turnaround Leaders Program. This unique case study program was designed to equip leaders with the expertise needed to improve student achievement and school culture in chronically low-performing schools. Upon completion of this prestigious program, she was appointed principal at Richmond Heights Middle School, an underperforming school with a magnet program. During her tenure, she successfully rebranded the school and enhanced the magnet course of study. Under her leadership, student attendance increased; school-wide inclusion rate increased from 45% to 100%; discipline decreased by 81%; magnet applications increased by 5%; minority group isolation improved by 0.9%, and student proficiency in tested content areas increased an average of 51 percentage points. Moreover, the nine-year dormant Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) was reinstated, and community partnerships and engagement flourished. The school was the recipient of a $25K grant awarded by Pittsburgh Plate and Glass. These accomplishments propelled the school grade from a “D” to a “B,” and the school received its first National Magnet School of Excellence Award in its 15 years of existence.
Mrs. Donaldson is a constant advocate for equality and diversity in educational programs. Collaborating with Dr. Darnisa Amante-Jackson, and Lee Teitel from the Harvard Reimagining Integration (RIDES) institute, she is committed to providing professional education on the Equity Improvement Cycle (EIC) to schools in MDCPS. Using the EIC, schools can achieve programmatic equity, teacher equity, and student achievement equity.
Ms. Donaldson holds a Bachelor of Science from Bethune-Cookman University, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, and an Educational Specialist from Nova Southeastern University.
Raise the level of performance consistent throughout school districts nationwide and creates a platform from which all magnet schools can flourish. Magnet Schools of America’s national certification process is designed to recognize the hard work of the best magnet schools in the nation and to help them as they grow.