Throughout his career, Dr. Joshua McDowell has had the opportunity to work with amazing people. The relationships he’s established with a variety of professionals across the country have helped develop him into the effective leader he is today. McDowell entered public education because of a love of children and a belief that education is the great equalizer. He says growing up with a single mom in a low-income environment, attending public education was, “my saving grace.” The same is true for his wife, who also came from a challenged childhood. An excellent public education has allowed them both to give back to their community and provide for their family like they never thought possible. He is proud to now have the opportunity to repay the profession and the community that has embraced him and provided unwavering support.
McDowell graduated from Doane College in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and an endorsement in middle-level education. He began his teaching career in Kearney Public Schools in 2003. In his second year, Kearney Public Schools recognized him as the 2005 teacher of the year. He says this recognition constantly reminds him he is a teacher first and foremost and providing opportunities for all students to thrive will continue to be his personal mission, regardless of his position.
In 2008, he graduated from Doane College with a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. At the age of 27, he was hired to serve as an assistant principal at Walnut Middle School in Grand Island, Nebraska. Through his work and dedication to all students at Walnut, he was named an Extraordinary Person by the Grand Island Independent. Being humbled by this honor, it was reassurance his relentless commitment to student success was indeed his calling. After serving at Walnut Middle School, he transitioned to serve as an administrator at Barr Middle School. In 2012, he was promoted to the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS), a role he served for four years.
McDowell considers himself a lifelong learner, continuously looking to improve professionally and personally. In August of 2017, he earned a Doctorate of Education Degree in Interdisciplinary Leadership from Creighton University. In 2016, he was promoted to the Chief Academic Officer for GIPS. Serving in this role provided him the opportunity to lead all curriculum and instruction, assessment and accountability, federal programs, and special education services for the entire district. As the Chief Academic Officer, McDowell is proud to have built a team no longer operating within individual silos. This team of leaders is now working collaboratively to provide a world-class education for all students. Leveraging the passion and expertise of each department has brought new life and direction to a team that previously struggled to make desired student success a reality.
McDowell’s ability to think innovatively, plan strategically, develop highly effective teams, and professionally and appropriately challenge the status quo has led to his most recent promotion to serve GIPS and the Grand Island community as the Chief Transformation Officer. In this role, he is honored to be leading a nationally recognized high school reform effort as well as having a co-authored a $12 million competitive federal grant. This role also carries the responsibility to ensure GIPS is on the cutting edge in hiring and retention practices and in information technology systems and operations.
There are several accomplishments of which McDowell is proud to have led. However, he believes his most significant accomplishments - both professional and personal - were possible due to an ability to build strong relationships and ensure all stakeholders are valued. After all, without the caring embrace of his community, our public schools, and a relentless pursuit to serve others his story would not be nearly as successful or worthwhile.