Best of Gilbert 2014 Elementary School Teacher: Julie MacDonald - East Valley Tribune: Home

Best of Gilbert 2014 Elementary School Teacher: Julie MacDonald

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Julie MacDonald

Third grade, Higley Traditional Academy

3391 E. Vest Ave.

(480) 279-6800

Higley Traditional’s MacDonald finds happiness in education

By Eric Mungenast


Julie MacDonald would be a roller-skating waitress principal had she followed the career path set by her first-grade self. She didn’t quite achieve those lofty aspirations, but MacDonald has found an occupation that leaves her more than satisfied with life: teaching.

That wasn’t always the case for MacDonald, as her first option was to become a nutritionist. (She calls the 14-year-old version of herself “very nutritionally advanced” for her age and she still works out frequently.) But her work as a nutritionist left her miserable.

“I woke up one day and said, ‘You know what? I’m not happy, and I don’t want to make others miserable,’” she says.

So MacDonald decided to reverse course and study education, following in her parents’ steps to become a teacher. She mixed classes and her full-time job with daily exercise routines that got her up at 2 a.m. each day. (She was and remains something of a Starbucks aficionado.)

MacDonald now gets to apply her caffeine-boosted energy every school day with her students at Higley Traditional Academy, where she taught third grade in the most recent school year. MacDonald’s goal is to keep students engaged and eager to enter her classroom — otherwise, she says, she’s not doing her job as an educator.

And while she may never become the roller-skating waitress principal she dreamed about, life is moving along swimmingly.

“I go to work and I love my life every day,” says MacDonald.


Carol Dangerfield

Sixth grade, Meridian Elementary School

3900 S. Mountain Road

(480) 497-4032


Mison Chang

Sixth grade, Val Vista Lakes Elementary School

1030 N. Blue Grotto Drive

(480) 926-6301

Penny Sedlak

First grade, Patterson Elementary School

1211 E. Guadalupe Road

(480) 892-2803

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