Fortuna begins as new Hudson school superintendent
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – Applicants were being screened for a new elementary school principal soon after Dr. Jodi Fortuna began as the Hudson school superintendent July 1. That was only weeks after the district announced its new middle school principal.
“We’re a very young leadership team filled with possibilities,” she said. “It’s very exciting for me.”
Fortuna first became interested in pursuing a career in education at age 6 while growing up in Dudley.
“I was in an elementary school that was doing inclusion and we had in our class what I have since come to know as a child with autism,” she explained. “The teachers couldn’t get him to do work, but I could. We formed this really close bond. I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher of kids like him.”
She received her bachelor’s degree in special education and teaching from Bridgewater State College, and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Framingham State College. She also earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership and administration at Boston College.
Her 20-year career in education began as a teacher in 1994 in Dudley.
“I had some very troubled students, and I became involved with them and their families,” she relayed. “That’s when I realized that education was more than the six hours you spend in the classroom; it’s really about community outreach for a lot of those families.”
Next, Fortuna worked as an assistant principal in Northbridge for two years until that position was cut due to lack of funds. Then she spent a year as an educational behavior management specialist at an alternative high school in Fitchburg.
In 2003, she began as principal of two elementary schools in the Narragansett Regional School District; one located in Phillipston and the other in Templeton.
“It always seemed you were needed at one school when you were at the other,” she said. “At the time I was hired, they had two elementary principals for four buildings.”
Fortuna was hired by Hudson Public Schools in 2006 as principal of Forest Avenue Elementary School.
“There was something really appealing to me about going to a bigger district and one building,” she said of her move to Hudson. “And I had heard such wonderful things about the town.”
She immediately felt comfortable at the school.
“One of the great things about Forest Avenue is that the whole staff really operates as a family and as a community,” she said. “The dedication of the staff and the parents there was really wonderful.”
Next, Fortuna served as the district director of elementary curriculum and instruction for nearly four years beginning in 2008.
“I really enjoyed working with and learning from our elementary principals,” she said. “They helped me be a better professional and a better leader.”
Prior to being named assistant superintendent in March 2012 by former Superintendent Dr. Kevin Lyons, the district didn’t have anyone in that position since the 2000-2001 school year.
“It was a great opportunity to take a position and make it my own,” Fortuna said. “Kevin gave me the leeway and support to do that. He was an incredible mentor.”
The district will hire a human resource director instead of filling the assistant superintendent position.
“Kevin was spending a lot of time on issues that really could have been handled by a professionally-trained human resource director,” Fortuna said.
After working several years in the Hudson Public Schools, Fortuna understands why she had heard praise for the district.
“There’s something very special about this district,” she said. “I’m working with incredible educators in a community that supports the schools.”
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