ed.d. in educational leadership, class of 2012
Can you talk a bit about your time at Boston College (and particularly your program, and the Lynch School)?
The three years I spent at the Lynch School represent a time of vast professional and personal growth. The cohort model allowed me to connect and share ideas with other professionals in leadership positions. In addition to working with and learning from my peers I had the opportunity to learn from outstanding practitioners who were at the top of their fields in educational leadership and education law. Working with these individuals provided a great amount of inspiration and encouragement as I journeyed on the path of discovering who I am as a leader.
What was your career path before attending BC? What made you decide to attend the program?
I began my career in education as a special education teacher and was quite certain that I would retire as a special educator and open a nice flower shop somewhere. I view myself as a lifelong learner and I knew that I was going to pursue a graduate degree. I found myself at a crossroads and was trying to decide if I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership or Educational Psychology. I was fortunate, at this time, to have a principal who recognized my affinity for leadership and he suggested that I pursue educational leadership. Thanks to his belief in me, my husband’s support, and a MA in Educational Leadership I became a principal. Seven years passed and I began to feel restless. Once again I was lucky enough to be working for a mentor who recognized the restlessness as the desire for a new challenge. He encouraged me to pursue my doctorate degree and a central office position. I chose to apply to BC because of the cohort model and the fact that every class was built around the importance of interaction and dialogue with colleagues and professors. I never regretted the decision
How did your time in the program help shape your career, goals, and perspective on education?
I could write a paper on this question alone. The program helped to fundamentally shape who I am. It brought my core values into sharp focus. I grew in so many ways. I learned how to be fully present though the demands of the job pull me in a million directions. I have learned how to back up my beliefs and actions with the field of research. I make better decisions now because they are grounded in my core values and scholarship. I understand key leadership principals at a depth that they have just become part of who I am. I am less afraid to make mistakes and a lot more humble than I was when I started. The three years I spent in the program have defined me as a leader and have brought into perspective what I want my contribution to education to be. I define change as part of growth and want to be part of a learning organization that embraces change and growth.
What were your favorite aspects about your time in the Lynch School?
My cohort…These talented leaders taught me so much. They taught me when to stand up and fight and when to sit down and listen. They taught me that sometimes you lead in front, sometimes from the side, and sometimes from the rear. I learned how to negotiate. I also learned how to share a moment with others whether it was triumph or defeat. The 23 others in that group were all unique individuals that I was able to learn something from.
Were there any faculty members at BC that had a particularly strong impact on you?
Diana Pullin- Diana taught me about the learning process. Academic success had always come pretty easily to me. Diana taught me about true scholarship which is a lot more difficult. I had to grow as a scholar in her class or else I would not have made it. She gave me a better appreciation of what my students and teachers go through when they are encountering new skills.
Jerry Starratt & Irwin Blumer- These men brought me right back to my roots and helped me plant them in firmer soil. They each taught me at a deeper level what it means to be an ethical leader. Sometimes I think in everyday language the meaning of ethics gets diluted to something that relates more to not doing anything wrong or criminal. They helped me see that it is so much more than that. We are actively called to do good. They also reinforced that I must always act in concert with my core values.
What advice do you have for any prospective graduate students at BC?
You will need to believe in yourself and be tenacious when it comes to your goals. There will be times when you are so challenged that you feel stretched to your limits but if you are steadfast in your desire to succeed it will all come together. Believe in yourself and use the support systems that are available to you. Do not give up; it will be worth it in the end.
Can you speak about your current position and the work that you do, as well as future plans?
I am currently Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Hudson Public Schools. In my position I am fortunate enough to be constructing and defining the district’s teaching and learning system with a talented group of educators. I am also lucky enough to be able to lead the district’s professional learning program. This gives me an opportunity to stay current in the both the scholarly and practical realms of adult learning and development as well as child/adolescent learning and development.
Note: In June, 2014, Dr. Fortuna was appointed Superintendent of the Hudson, Massachusetts Public Schools.