Empowering women is still a challenge in various countries. There are people who still believe that women cannot initiate changes in the world. However, it is discerning the fact that education overlaps society’s beliefs and nurturing women and their innovative ideas that have been making global changes and development in various fields.
Educating women has helped the world greatly to know and understand the fundamental human rights, and those rights assist them in taking a stand for themselves and equally contributing to worldwide socio-economic development. Moreover, there are many successful women in society have set an example and milestones in various fields.
In the quest for enthusiastic and passionate women we came across Ms. Jillian Boudreau, the Head of the Mount Alvernia High School, where she highlighted her career’s journey and how she helped other women in shaping, nurturing, and articulating courageous women to achieve success.
Below is the detailed information about the Jillian Boudreau journey.
Please let us know about the origin of your career since its beginning and highlight your academic and professional pillars.
I firmly believe it was part of a bigger plan that led me to Mount Alvernia High School in Newton, MA. After attending an all-girls high school, myself, I graduated from Boston College with a dual undergraduate degree in Human Development and Communications.
Following my undergraduate degree, I received my Master of Arts degree in School Counseling from Boston College, where I gained experience as an intern in Boston Public Schools and became a licensed School Counselor in Massachusetts. During my tenure at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro, MA, I found true joy in working with students as the Lower School Counselor, Athletic Director, Director of Student Affairs, and Dean of Students while gaining various perspectives working with students, faculty, and families.
As time went on, I was called into an administrative direction, which led to my participation in the Aspiring Leaders program through the Archdiocese of Boston. Here, I gained valuable academic experience while earning a certificate in Catholic Leadership from Merrimack College and hands-on experience through an apprenticeship at the Immaculate Conception School in Newburyport, MA. My time as an apprentice has provided opportunities in all aspects of administration, after which I was appointed Assistant Principal during the school year 2020-2021.
Acceptance further enhanced this opportunity into Boston College’s Lynch Leadership Academy, Cohort 10, whose mission is to develop leaders who interrupt inequities and increase the opportunities and outcomes for all students.
As Assistant Principal during a year that did not look like any other, I collaborated with the administrative team to solve Covid-related challenges to provide the best experience possible for our students- academically and emotionally. As I completed the Lynch Leadership Academy and earned my administrative license in Massachusetts, I found the Head of School position for Mount Alvernia High School and felt compelled to apply.
I believe my life experiences and the communities of lifelong learners I have been blessed to be a part of have led me to this moment as Head of School.
Tell us about the school’s mission, vision, and core values.
Mount Alvernia High School ‘Enlightens and shapes courageous, compassionate, and articulate women who believe that life has a purpose, who can discern the ‘good’ and who will be an effective force for it in the world.’ Dedication to our mission and the well-being of young women of the community embodies who we are as a school.
“As a community of learners steeped in the Franciscan tradition, in 2000 we built upon our mission and set out to create a set of seven core values (Seven C’s) that we aspire to instill in all students – courage, confidence, character, competence, compassion, commitment, and community. Each year, one of these values provides the theme for our school community. This year’s theme is courage, women who have spirit and strength,” Ms. Jillian states the mission of the school.
Being an inspiring principal, what significant technological advancement have you introduced in your school?
Returning to in-person learning last year after the pandemic, I focused a lot on improving the use of data programs and student workspaces to match the needs of the time. First, we implemented a new math program, Edmentum Exact Path, which will provide an individualized math program for each student. In addition, we partnered with a program called Nextgenpreneur, which teaches young women entrepreneurial skills to solve social problems.
During your professional journey, what challenges have you come across, and how did you overcome them?
Throughout my journey, I have encountered a significant challenge: being perceived as ‘too young’ or ‘too inexperienced’ to be in a leadership position. From the beginning, I often felt that some are skeptical of my leadership abilities because of preconceived notions of my gender. Through the support and encouragement of those closest to me and several strong female mentors, I have overcome this challenge by just being myself. I had to put aside the fear of what others thought of me and remain true to what I believed was right.
In terms of a professional journey, the hardest challenge has been supporting faculty, staff, and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we have all experienced trauma over the last few years, no two people experienced it similarly. Trying to be emotionally supportive and understanding while leading the school was also extremely challenging in this field of work. I do not know if I can say I have overcome this challenge, but I have done my best to be a calming presence and listen to others the best I can.
What unique programs are there for students to get global exposure?
MAHS is fortunate to have several opportunities for students to get global exposure. We are excited to hopefully be returning to more of them, which were on hold during the pandemic. First, service for others is core to our mission. Our students help in their local communities and have gone on international service trips.
There is also the opportunity for students to travel abroad on a school trip. Students in grades 7-9 travel to Montreal in the spring. Students in grades 10-12, an alternate trip between a European country and a service trip to Peru. In addition, during the service trips, we try to tie our Franciscan mission into the experience by having students visit another school or location close to our community.
Which activities do you conduct in your school to maintain maximum student engagement?
Our school approaches engagement from many avenues. First, collaboration across disciplines is encouraged, and lessons are designed to be hands-on, collaborative, and require students to think critically. We highlight student voice and choice and want our students to be able to discern the ‘why’ behind their reasoning.
In terms of activities, besides having many options for co-curricular activities and sports, we are unique in our engagement with the Missionary Franciscan Sisters. Our students have the opportunity to meet with the sisters, get to know them, and do activities like an annual holiday party or tea to celebrate the feast of St. Patrick. In addition to engaging with our sisters, students engage with each other. We have a Big Sister/ Little Sister mentor program between the 7th and 12th grade, who do monthly activities together throughout the year. We come together as a school family at least once a month to participate in an assembly, liturgy, or school activity to step outside the classroom and engage with each other.
As a prominent principal, what would be your advice to students across the world?
One piece of advice would be to remember despite the hard work and challenges in a school day, the faculty and staff in your building are there because they genuinely care about you and want to help you succeed. We all are in education because of our students, so no matter how overwhelming something may seem, turn to someone in your building, and they will be there to support you and help you through. We all want each of you to succeed!
How do you envision your and your school’s future endeavours?
As our Seven C of courage says, I envision our school to continue to grow in supporting young women of spirit and strength. Through spirit, by encouraging them to find their passions and through strength- to continue to try and try again when something doesn’t work the way it was originally planned. To think outside the box, dream big, and find their voice- to do so, we as a school need to provide the programs, academic curriculum, and global opportunities to do so.