John E. McKenna, EdD '08

Principal, Tonawanda City School District

John McKenna

John McKenna, EdD, has been a principal in the Tonawanda City School District since 1995 and is known and respected for his innovative ideas, dedication to education and his passion to ensure that students receive the best possible educational experiences. McKenna’s commitment to education has resulted in numerous awards and honors.

In 2012, he received the New York State Outstanding Educator of the Year Award by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS). McKenna also serves as the Western New York chairman for SAANYS and sits on their New York State executive board, which is responsible for developing programs and policies that affect statewide educational practices.

McKenna has served as the educational and legislative chairman for the Niagara Region Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), and has been recognized as an honorary lifetime member for his contributions. He was honored in 2013 with the Special Service Award in Memory of Walter Potocki for his leadership, dedication and support of the PTA across the region.

In 2013, McKenna also received the Presidential Award as a distinguished elementary principal from the Buffalo/Niagara Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa (PDK). He is a past president of PDK at Buffalo State College and a recipient of the Howard K. Soule Fellowship Award from PDK International for his doctoral dissertation.

He is a national presenter for the HOPE Foundation and has presented the “Failure is Not an Option” program across the country. This past year, McKenna was also invited to speak at the annual conferences of the Association of Teacher Educators and the International Society of Educational Planners to discuss the implementation of current educational policies and practices.

McKenna currently serves as the president of the Committee for Identifying and Developing Educational Leadership. This committee is affiliated with the Western New York Educational Service Council and works with all colleges and universities across the region to plan programs and activities to foster educational leadership.

He was also the 2010 recipient of the “Shooting Star Award” presented by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western New York for his work supporting children with life threatening illnesses. McKenna believes strongly in community service and has made this a cornerstone of his work.