By: Laura Bett
Humorous, dedicated, enthusiastic, caring, and supportive. Students use these kind words to describe the school’s new Dean of Student Life, Mr. MacDonald. As a member of the Matignon community since 2018, Mr. MacDonald has worked in various positions, observing and experiencing the changes to the Cambridge Matignon School and student body over the years.
Mr. MacDonald never knew much about Matignon. After applying to graduate schools in Boston, he was accepted into the Urban Catholic Teacher Core at Boston College. This graduate program sends students to work in schools around the Greater Boston Area. Although he was only placed at Matignon for two years, he has never left.
Though his first role at Matignon was as a social studies teacher, Mr. MacDonald has truly cherished every class he has taught. He enjoys teaching freshman classes because they are energetic and full of excitement. But, he also appreciates the content material of senior classes and is fascinated by how much their thought processes develop over four years.
While teaching is a valuable aspect of his role at Matignon, Mr. MacDonald feels he is better suited for his new role as Dean of Student Life. He also feels that “it is important for other faculty members to know that [he] still understand the joys and difficulties of teaching.” He wants to ensure that every student is heard and feels welcome. “[His] title has changed but [his] job still feels the same.”
Mr. MacDonald is also working to bring back the sense of normalcy and consistency that the school has lacked the past few years in response to the pandemic crisis. He feels that Matignon has an incredibly bright future and with Dr. Manuel, the school can continue developing relationships with the city of Cambridge. However, he does not want to lose sight of all the school has accomplished while remaining accessible to working families in Cambridge and the Boston area.
Although Matignon has changed significantly after returning to in-person learning, Mr. MacDonald feels that as a school, we better respond to situations with creative solutions. But with countless adaptations, it is extremely challenging to have consistency and uphold expectations. Though students question its strictness, Mr. MacDonald and the rest of the administration emphasize the dress code so much this year because it promotes equality, professionalism, and Catholic tradition.
Additionally, technology has impacted the level of engagement both in and out of the classroom. “We have been through a collective trauma together”, Mr. MacDonald observes. Students often retreat to their phones because technology is addictive. Pre-covid, Mr. MacDonald recalls greeting students in the morning who socialized in front of their lockers. But post-covid, the decrease in human interaction is notable. He is grateful for the energy the BHA boys have brought to the hallways.
Lastly, most students know him as the student council advisor, but few know how he landed the role. In 2019, Mr. DiSarcina, Matignon’s former principal, and Ms. D’Angelo asked him to assume the role of Mr. Welsh, Matignon’s former head of school and student council advisor. Mr. MacDonald has been unbelievably impressed with what students are able to accomplish. Watching students work together to facilitate change reminds him of why he wanted to start teaching. He loves his job because it fosters leadership in students, allowing them to fail, take chances, and try new things.
As a school, we look forward to seeing all Mr. MacDonald will accomplish in his new role as Dean of Student Life!