LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Tonya McCall

Position: Principal
School: Mason Middle School
School District: Mason City Schools
City, State: Mason, OH

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Tonya McCall was nominated by a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous.

Mason Middle School is comprised of an assortment of staff members that help to shape the young minds of middle school students. They deliver education in the core areas of mathematics, science, language arts and history; but they don’t stop there.  Mason Middle School has amazing staff members who are dedicated to education in the arts, physical education, nutrition, and unlimited options for elective courses in various areas.

"As a staff member of Mason Middle School, we aim to not only educate the youth in our community, but to help nurture each and every child, and provide them with opportunities for growth," the nominator said.

The staff of Mason Middle School has evolved over the years. They have become stronger together, and have made a positive impact on the way things are run on a daily basis. This process of evolution couldn't have occurred without the help of Tonya McCall.

"Tonya has been our leader, our compass, our cheerleader, our counselor, our problem-solver and our friend," the nominator said. "She is so much more than a building principal. She is the heart of Mason Middle School and every single staff member, student, parent, and community member owes her a thank you for everything she’s done for our building. Most importantly, Tonya has taught us how to lead. We know that she may be the heart, but she’s spread her passion and vision to her staff - we are here to carry out what she started. We will continue to grow, flourish, and always choose what is best for our students."

A few staff members at Mason Middle School spoke on Ms. McCall's behalf as well.

One staff member spoke about her legacy, saying “Tonya is a courageous leader. She is a leader who stands up for what she believes in. She makes difficult decisions and does not hedge on those decisions.  She leads with passion. She honors commitments, speaks with honest, has unwavering convictions, and treats everyone with respect.  A truly great leader creates more leaders and that is exactly what she has done in this building and district.  She has created a legacy of service. In the end, leadership is about being responsible for people and her success has been four in the virtue of her integrity.”

Another staff member highlighted some of Tonya's greatest characteristics, saying “Imagine working for a person whom gives you the creative freedom to try new things and take risks all the while supporting you along the way. This is what it is like working with Tonya. She leads through example - never asking anything of her staff without trying it out for herself first.  Tonya has created a working environment that is motivating, safe and inviting for all. She's created a team atmosphere where we all thrive and succeed together as a whole. I appreciate her kind, compassionate and supportive nature - she truly listens to the needs of her staff.  It is her humility and selflessness that sets Tonya apart from other leaders. She is able to inspire greatness in her staff, create more leaders among her building and make everyone feel important and valued. Working for Tonya is a truly unique experience that is difficult to sum up into words because it's more about a feeling you get when you're here. You know you belong.”

Another staff member said “Tonya leads by example. She gets the job done while going above and beyond on a consistent basis. She is flexible. Tonya recognizes that life gets crazy and she does an amazing job supporting/understanding her staff's needs/requests. She's our boss, but Tonya listens and values our ideas/opinions as if we are on the same level.  There has never been a time where I didn't think she trusted us as professionals. Tonya is what every administrator in every school or district should aspire to be.”

A favorite quote from one staff member reads: "She does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of her actions and the integrity of her intent."

"The staff of Mason Middle School could not be more appreciative and thankful for what Tonya has done and continues to do for our building," the nominator said. "We are the lucky ones. And to Tonya, we promise you this - whatever the future brings, we will carry your heart and vision with us as we serve our students. We will continue to grow and never settle. We will do what is best for our students and know that together, as a building, we will find a way. Thank you Tonya, from all of us at Mason Middle School."

Comments (13)

Kristyn Keriazes Posted over a year ago

Tonya is a fantastic, wonderful, amazing, unique, compassionate, and dynamic leader. She understands the needs of her staff and students by truly listening to the concerns, questions, comments, and suggestions they have to offer. She empowers her staff to make a difference in the lives of students through autonomy in their classroom environments. The level of respect that she shows each and every individual is refreshing and inspiring!

June Meadows Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Tonya McCall is a true leader. Her style resembles that of a spiritual leader; to coin the words of Pastor Bob Hamp, Pastoral Care at Gateway Church: a spiritual leader: "leads others into their own encounters with God, they lead others to discover their own purpose and identity, they lead others into transformation--not just production, they impact their atmosphere, they help people see old things in new ways, they gain a following because of who they are--not because of a position they hold" Spiritual Leaders as well as, organizational leaders can "influence more than they direct, and they inspire more than they instruct . Mrs. Tonya McCall is someone who helps others meet their potential through leadership and encouragement. I have learned so much from you over the past 18 years. Thank you, Mrs. McCall for EVERYTHING!!!

Amanda Kemen Posted over a year ago

Through everything we encounter as a school community, there is always a peace knowing Tonya is at the helm and leading the way. Her steady leadership brings calm to any situation, a focus for steps to move forward, and empowerment to those around her. Such a worthy candidate for this award.

Michelle Lienemann Posted over a year ago

Ive known Tonya for about 18 years now, and have had the priviledge to work with her at MMS for almost 13 years. Her leadership is evident in not only the big things going on in our building, and our district, but especially in the little, every-day things that can make the difference between a not-so-good day to a great day! She's a natural, and the grace and calmness that she handles issues on the spur of the moment always amazes me, and is something I strive for. Tonya has the ability to be empathetic and understanding to everyone's view point when dealing with an issue, and makes decisions based on that which are fair and you know you're thoughts are considered and important. Tonya knows all of us for our strengths (and some of our weaknesses) as individuals, and embraces that in a way that we work as a great team here at MMS.

Melissa Lohman Posted over a year ago


Mandy Chmiel Posted over a year ago

Tonya is not only a wonderful principal, but a wonderful person. She encourages all to be their best person and educator, as she does herself. She is always very open to new ideas and allows her staff to thrive through her open-mindedness and willingness to listen to new ideas. She is one of the best people I have ever worked for, and I'm so happy to see that she is a nominee for Lifechanger of the Year - she absolutely deserves it!

Lindsay L Nealis Posted over a year ago

A much deserved nomination! Tonya is an incredible leader who cares deeply for both her students and staff. Mason is incredibly lucky to have Tonya and I feel privileged to be lead by such an outstanding leader!

Katie Lin Posted over a year ago

Tonya is the kind of boss/leader that you brag about to your teacher friends in other districts. She is the kind of leader that makes you feel confident enough to take risks and vulnerable enough to cry in her office (when it's needed). She cares for teachers as people first and as educators second, and she practices an important tenet of education that most of us struggle with: listening first. Tonya encourages us all to be leaders; it does not take a specific title, amount of tenure, or certain personality trait to make a difference in your school community, and Tonya has shown us that time and again. Personally, I have benefited from Tonya promoting Ignite Talks at each Staff Meeting. Not only have I learned so much personally and professionally from my colleagues, but I shared my own Ignite Talk dealing with two topics near and dear to my heart: mental health and resilience. I was extremely anxious to present on this topic, but to this date, it is one of my greatest teacher-leader accomplishments. I am grateful for Tonya's gentle nudge and endorsement to help me share my story.

Roni Carpenter Posted over a year ago

"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart." -- Unknown. Tonya exudes peace - poise, calm, whatever you want to call it - in her voice, in her body language, in her encouragement of all those she works with. Her calm demeanor and positive outlook are a tonic to me. When I am worked up over a mistake I've made, when I'm overwhelmed and losing sleep, Tonya is one of the people I seek out. I invariably leave her office feeling empowered to be my best self, my calmest most confident self, and I carry that back to my classroom and try to pass it forward to my students too.

Joan Andrews Posted over a year ago

When I talked to Tonya at the beginning of the school year concerning my husband being in Hospice, she was completely understanding and supportive of the days I stayed home to take care of him. She sent me a beautiful message during a hard time and after his death to let me know how much she cared. I was able to grieve without any stress about my job, and the days I was absent!

Karen Long Posted over a year ago

Tonya has consistently supported me as a staff person professionally and personally. She gives each of us the freedom to try new things and then have honest conversations around what is effective and may need changing. I appreciate Tonya's flexibility and trust in me. She is accessible and willing to help with students and their parents - I value and respect her insight and wisdom. She does lead with integrity and that is a gift to us all.

Mike McCalmont Posted over a year ago

I have only had the privilege of meeting Tonya in person once, but having a daughter who has worked with her in the amazing Mason Middle School system for over a decade, I have first hand knowledge of what an incredible educator and leader she is. Tonya is one of those rare individuals who has a special aura surrounding her... one of confidence, care and concern so vital in the education and guidance of our youth, our future. Tonya's nomination comes from a 2016 LCOY honoree who has eloquently painted a verbal picture of someone who is clearly deserving of this prestigious honor!

Ashley Palac Posted over a year ago

Such a well-deserved nomination! I absolutely love working for and working with Tonya. She has always been such a supporter of her educators and is willing to listen to her colleagues and actually make changes for the good of the staff and students of Mason MIddle School.