Sarah Fortier said she has had enough of Vermont winters.
Fortier, who has been principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy since 2014 and also of Christ the King School for the last two years, has announced that her last day on those jobs will be July 16. She departs to become principal of St. John Vianney Catholic School in Florida.
“I always wanted to live in Florida,” she said. “I came back to Vermont because my husband’s job was here and I was starting out. I always joked with him about moving to Florida. This opportunity arose and it just made sense.”
The opportunity arose suddenly — Fortier said she interviewed and was hired over the last two and a half weeks. She said her parents frequently vacation at St. Pete Beach, where the school is located, so she was familiar with the area.
“A lot of it had to do with the weather,” she said. “I love being warm.”
A graduate of MSJ’s class of 1999, Fortier said it was hard for her to leave and stressed that her departure has nothing to do with the schools.
“The schools are doing great,” she said. “I love MSJ and Christ the King a lot and wish them both the best. All the kids are wonderful, two great staffs.”
While MSJ has struggled with enrollment levels in recent years, the school grew from 65 students to 93 in her tenure. Christ the King had 142 students when it was added to her duties and now has 215, she said. Fortier said she could only claim a small amount of the credit.
“I’ve been at the helm, but I had a great support system and staff,” she said.
Mary Lou Harvey, chairwoman of the MSJ school board, said the vice principal at each school would take over in the short-term, and that how Fortier is replaced would ultimately be the decision of the diocese.
“They’re working on what would happen in the immediate future and the future,” she said. “We are certainly sorry to see Sarah go. She was energetic and cemented that synergy between Christ the King and MSJ.”