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Do you know about the Virginia Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI)?  The Virginia EIRI’s goal is to serve students in grades K-3 by helping reduce reading difficulties through early diagnosis and immediate intervention.  The initiative assists distri...

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Tom MacDonald: What is Your Why?

Tom MacDonald joined the University Instructors, Inc. (UI) team in July of 2007 as part of the business development team.  Prior to starting his career, he earned a Master’s in Teaching from University of Richmond and additional certification in Educational Leadership and Supervision from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Upon graduation, he started at a management consulting firm for two years in New York City, working in the World Trade Center.  He then went abroad and lived in Belgium for two and half years, beginning his switch into the educational field.  Working at an international school, he supported high school English studies, including grammar and rhetoric, and taught English as a Second Language.  He enjoyed his switch to education because all his life, he had a love of language and literature.  This parlayed into a love of communication that eventually lead him to business development.

For fourteen years, Tom served in various educational capacities in the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the role of high school English teacher and Department Chair at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School in Richmond.   He developed into various roles in school systems, additionally serving as a coach, administrator, coordinator, and central office administrator.  He took joy in helping students succeed and witnessing districts move forward in raising achievement, equity, and innovation.  He eventually decided he would like to contribute in a different dynamic.

“I was fortunate with timing because UI needed someone to help develop more business in Virginia.  I made a huge leap of faith by leaving the public educational profession and joining this one, but I’ve been running ever since.”  Tom continues, “In my heart, I am an educator, and that’s why this career has been a really good fit.”

Tom joined the UI team as a business development associate, in charge of generating relationships and sharing the UI story.  He ultimately became the director himself and created a team to successfully tackle other parts of the country.  He has continued to be a part of the leadership team, assisting with training and coaching, while enhancing the personal and professional growth of his team members.

“The UI team was so excellent at their work that they helped make my team very successful.  I was just one piece of the puzzle.  I’m proud of the entire UI team’s efforts and work ethic that has gone into helping us grow and make a dramatic impact on children, teachers, and with division leadership,” Tom states.  “We have dynamic, talented people throughout our organization, most of whom have been here over a decade, that all have the same mission.  It’s been such a pleasure.”



Tom expresses his enjoyment in observing not only the growth of the UI team, but the development of offerings and services UI can now provide.  UI’s most recent service, EdForce™, has advanced rapidly, producing three sub offerings under its umbrella, and there has been a human resources growth in the company, involving payroll and processing.  “From my departmental part, I see us growing into different states, and trying to grow our footprint,” says Tom.  “We can help districts in the rest of the country and that’s what is so exciting about where we are in this moment in time.”

In his twelve years with UI, Tom describes two personal highlights that he considers favorite moments in his career.  For one, he initiated the Algebra Readiness program at Virginia Beach City Public Schools almost a decade ago, helping to raise achievement in mathematics through UI TutorEd™ daytime interventions.  The program became a district-wide effort in one of the largest districts in Virginia, with 70,000 students.  Secondly, he is proud of the many relationships he has created with school district personnel, traveling all throughout the state and nation.  For example, one of the individuals he would stop in and speak with year after year in a rural division next to West Virginia, unexpectedly gave him a call one summer.  The district needed nine tutors to teach literacy and math for the upcoming school year.  “The district personnel were thinking of us and from a business development perspective, that was pretty cool,” states Tom.

As the current Director of Business Development, Tom acknowledges that he has been blessed to work with a remarkable team and that the President of UI, Jim Popp, has done an extraordinary job of leadership through thick and thin.  “The sky is the limit for this organization as long as we can continue to put students and their education first, focus on their achievement and engagement, and help prepare them for this new century,” Tom says. “I’ve been very fortunate to have a good run so far, and I’m very thankful for it.”