INDIAN LAND — After six years at the helm, Indian Land Middle School Principal David McDonald, 33, is leaving for a position in Greenville County.
He’ll begin his new position as principal at Northwest Middle School in Travelers Rest July 1.
McDonald led the school through major changes and population growth. He was assistant principal of Indian Land Elementary School when it served kindergarten through eighth grade. He took the lead as principal of the middle school when the sixth to eighth grades were split from the elementary school six years ago.
The school has doubled in population since to more than 600.
“We’ve just worked our best to make sure it has never affected the kids,” McDonald said. “You keep asking for more and working with what you’ve got. The years the budget was tight were tough for us, but the kids were the priority. It didn’t matter if we had to shake an ink cartridge until it was empty, we just did what we had to do.”
Honors were showered upon both McDonald and the school during his time there. He was named South Carolina’s Middle School Principal of the Year in December.
In 2013, the school was designated a “School to Watch” for the second time in three years.
“This was a huge effort and a tremendous amount of work went into it and continues to permeate the school. It’s not every day a school joins an elite group like this and it is certainly a proud moment,” McDonald said.
In 2010, the school was one of only two middle schools to be named a South Carolina School of Character for two consecutive years. The school was also a Red Carpet School under McDonald.
Under his leadership, the school received more than $27,000 through a combination of donations and PTO funds to launch two Kindle Fire labs and two Google Chrome labs.
“Our community has time and time again stepped up to support the school,” McDonald said.
McDonald’s dedication to the school went beyond making sure students did their homework and minded their manners. He came in early, often stayed late, and spent days off making sure that the school was ready for students. When the school launched the in-school Founders Federal Credit Union, he painted the school store’s walls bright yellow.
“He’s very driven to succeed, extremely passionate about the kids. Everything we do revolved around the success of the kids,” said Indian Land Middle School Administrative Assistant Laura Loughry.
She’ll miss McDonald’s sense of humor, she said, but also the times he showed his emotional side, like a recent speech he gave when the school received the “School to Watch” designation.
“He’s so passionate and he’s not afraid to show it. Those are the moments that are pretty special,” she said.
The district has posted the principal’s position and has already begun receiving applications.
“Our goal is to find the right person to build on the tradition of excellence the school has established,” Lancaster County School District Superintendent Gene Moore said.
“It’s a great school with great students, a talented faculty and supportive parents and community. We expect the position will attract top-notch educators who want to be part of a successful team that is really making a difference for students.”