Fellow Profiles

David McDonough

School Type


Grade Levels


Student Enrollment



North Philadelphia


B.A. English, Santa Clara University

M.A. Educational Administration, Santa Clara University

David McDonough

Principal, St. James School
School District of Philadelphia
2022 Neubauer Fellow

“I am excited to serve as a Neubauer fellow to collaborate with other leaders in order to raise teaching and learning to the next level at St. James School.”

Dave has served as the principal of St. James School since 2016. Under his leadership, St. James School has increased MAP Reading scores by 22 points. Dave also supports the strong sense of student leadership at St. James by encouraging student participation in the 30 school affiliated enrichment programs. In 2019, St. James School received the “Zones of Peace” award from Interfaith Philadelphia.


Dave has been an educator since 1991. Prior to becoming a principal at St. James School, Dave served as Principal and Regional Director at Mastery Charter Schools from 2005 until moving to Principal at St. James in 2016. As Founding Principal at Pastorius Elementary—Mastery Charter (2013-2016):

  • Pastorius improved from bottom 5% of School District of Philadelphia (SDP) schools to top 5% in two years
  • Pastorius was rated #2 overall (out of 51 SDP elementary schools), according to the School Progress Reports (measuring academi achievement, academic progress, and school climate)
  • PSSA scored in grades 3-8 rose 11 points in Reading and 27 points in Math in year one
  • Established 19 after-school activities for students


Dave also served as a Founding Principal at two other NativityMiguel Coalition member schools: Sacred Heart Nativity School and LaSalle Academy. Dave was an Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) award winner for school-wide academic growth while at Mastery’s Lenfest Campus.


Other roles Dave has held throughout his career as an educator include assistant dean of students, 9th grade religion teacher, 7th grade ELA/social studies/science teacher, varsity soccer coach, and varsity baseball coach.


Dave grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and currently lives with his wife, Mary Ann, and their dog, Penny. Dave and Mary Ann have three children and are nearly empty nesters!

2022 Neubauer Fellows Page