Hall of Fame Portrait: Paul McFall, Part 1

On December 1, 2011, AEP will induct Charlotte Frank, PhD, McGraw-Hill Education; Don Johnston, Don Johnston, Inc.; and Paul McFall, Pearson into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Here in his first installment, Paul McFall, SVP, School, Pearson, discusses the person who had the greatest influence on him and the advice he would give to those choosing educational publishing as a career.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?

I have been blessed to know and work with so many wonderful people in this industry that to name just one is virtually impossible. So, I want to call out one person—if I could only name one—and then mention a few others who impacted me in various ways. Tom Shannon, who was the Regional Manager for Harper Row Publishers, met me at the Florida Council for Elementary Education in Orlando, Florida in 1969. From that first meeting he recruited me from Escambia County, Florida, where I was an Assistant Principal for curriculum in two schools, to become the sales rep in North Carolina.

From that time until 1984 when he retired he served not only as a mentor to me in learning and understanding this business, but as a role model of a man who loved his family, loved the whole experience of educating young people and loved this wonderful industry and all it could do to contribute to the lives of all those that it touched. Tom passed away several years ago, but not a day has gone by that I don’t think about him and how, if he were here, he might guide me as I make my day-to-day decisions.

However, I must include several additional people—who either through providing me additional opportunities to contribute in different ways to this wonderful industry or providing me a deeper vision of what this industry could become and how it could do even more to change lives—who profoundly impacted my development. Those people are Kathy Costello, Peter Jovanovich, Steve Dowling, Marty Smith and Marjorie Scardino. Each in unique ways have mentored me and set standards by their own work that I’ve tried to emulate.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in educational publishing?

Approach it as a continuous learning opportunity, and find joy in that fact that regardless of what form it takes over time, you get to wake up every morning knowing your career choice provides you the potential for changing lives in the most positive way. When I got in the business I could never have anticipated all the change we are now experiencing. I certainly had no idea that print would begin to become less and less prominent.

However, now I can see a larger view of what needs to occur and better understand that as powerful and wonderful as the print world has been and will continue to be on a more limited basis, my dream as a teacher is now a real possibility. That dream was to be able to reach each child on a personal level and to ensure they became all they were capable of being. They are all unique and special and what a great place this will be when we not only understand that but are able to teach them in such a way that they reach that special potential they were designed for. The new world of digital educational publishing can help us achieve that goal.


Paul McFall is currently Senior Vice President, School, Pearson. His responsibilities include advising Product Management and Product Development on key curriculum issues, serving on various Product Management and Development Teams, keying on Adoption States, supporting Government Relations efforts, and working with ILC and HLC organizations. He completed his BA degree at Troy State University in Alabama, and taught fifth and sixth grades in the Escambia County School System. He received his master’s degree in elementary education in 1968 at the University of Georgia.

Read more about Paul McFall and the Hall of Fame.

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