• Former MSJ student takes reins as principal
    By Bryanna Allen
    STAFF WRITER | July 11,2014
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    Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo

    Sarah Fortier is the new principal at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland. She graduated from the school in 1999.
    Almost two decades ago, Sarah Fortier sat in the classrooms and played on the soccer fields of Mount St. Joseph Academy.

    Now, she stands at the head of the classrooms and on the sides of the soccer fields as history teacher, coach and new principal of MSJ.

    The 1999 graduate said she never thought she would be principal of the school she attended, but is excited and honored to take on the role.

    “I’ve always loved coming to work here,” Fortier said, sitting in her new office that remains empty for now, save for a few pictures of her family and a framed poster of country singer Brad Paisley that her husband bought for her.

    “I’m going to really love the chance to be a leader of the school,” she said.

    Fortier will continue to teach a history class and be the girls soccer coach, two things she couldn’t give up after accepting the position. Soccer has been a part of her life since she was a child, and she uses that passion in her coaching skills. Fortier has been coach of the year four times.

    “She is an amazing coach and the perfect role model,” said one of her students and soccer players, Megan Eaton. “Everyone looks up to her, and she puts dedication into the game.”

    That dedication was something Fortier received from her own soccer coach at MSJ. Tim Cassidy helped her become the coach she is today.

    “I see so much of him in me, in the way I coach and feel about my team,” she said.

    Last year, MSJ had to play against the Long Trail School, where Cassidy coaches the girls’ team. When Fortier’s team arrived, she played a Beatles album over the speakers, Cassidy’s favorite band.

    “It was funny having our teams play each other,” she said. “It’s very easy for me to see how he has influenced not only my coaching tactics but also my life.”

    Cassidy feels the same about her, having known her since she was a little girl.

    “She is like a daughter to me,” Cassidy said, laughing at the memory of hearing his beloved band blaring from the side of the opposing team. “I always knew she would go far and do great things.”

    And do great things she has.

    Fortier has three children, one of whom was born with club feet. Doctors said her son, Jack, would never walk, but they were wrong. Not only does he walk, but he runs.

    Fortier has organized several running teams sponsoring her son and raising money for research on club feet. Her soccer team has been there for many of those steps.

    “The girls are amazing,” Fortier said of the team. “They’ve run beside me and each other, pushing to finish each race.”

    Running is a huge part of Fortier’s life. She wakes up almost every morning and heads out the door before her kids and husband wake up. Before work starts, before soccer starts.

    “It’s my time for myself,” she said.

    Fortier is such a dedicated runner that she has run flights of stairs in the past when the weather is too cold to go outside. She learned the lines to an MSJ Shakespearean play on a run, reciting the lines over and over in her head.

    “It was the only way I could memorize them, when I was alone, running and focused,” she said.

    Focusing is one of Fortier’s skills.

    Marty McDonough, a math teacher and athletic director at MSJ, said Fortier’s ability to focus is one of the reasons she will be an excellent principal.

    “She keeps MSJ and the students in mind, every move she makes is only to better them and this school, and that takes focus,” McDonough said of the mom who has a jam-packed schedule.

    McDonough said, “This school and the students are in her blood, in her heart. She will continue to do great things here.”

    bryanna.allen @rutlandherald.com
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