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‘Never had a job I didn’t like’: Springdale Preparatory School’s Fulton retires after 50 years in education

Lorraine Fulton spent most of her life pushing Maryland schools forward as an educator. Her 50-year career came to an end when she retired as Deputy Head of School at Springdale Preparatory School on July 1.

As she looked back on her career that included working at three different school systems and two private schools, she said she “never had a job I didn’t like.”

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The 73-year-old said her first teaching job was in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, where she is originally from. She moved to the United States in the 1970s and worked her first Maryland education job in Wicomico County as the supervisor of fine arts and gifted and talented education for its public schools from 1974 to 1989.

She also trained horses there.

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“I’ve been a horse person my whole life,” she said.

Fulton said her hobby with horses provided a successful work-life balance. And a job in education makes the balance crucial.

“That’s who I am,” she said about being an educator. “It’s easy to get lost in what you do and become that.”

Fulton later went to St. Mary’s County Public Schools. She spent time as an assistant principal at Leonardtown Middle School, which she referred to as “the best job you can have,” before becoming the director of student services, the deputy superintendent and, at one point, the acting superintendent of its school system.

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After spending 32 years in education at that point, she was asked to work at Carroll County Public Schools where she was the assistant superintendent of schools in 2006. Two years later, she joined Gerstell Academy where she was the Head of Middle School and later the president.

Her transition to Gerstell was the first time she entered the private school world. She was helping its development and moving it forward, Fulton said. It was her niche.

She did the same when she joined Springdale Prep in 2019 and took on the “major undertaking” of accrediting the school. The process will officially be complete in late August, she said.

Fulton said she enjoys developing initiatives that would carry the school to the next level. And although different schools had different goals, they all wanted to meet the highest possible standard.

“It may sound boring,” she said, but the long term gains is what makes it worth it.

As a leader, Fulton said she’s had to make hard decisions, but putting the children first is what keeps her focused.

“I’ve always kept the children in front of me,” she said. “They are always looking back at me with every decision I’ve made.”

Pictured in the garden courtyard that came together at Springdale Preparatory School under her watch, Lorraine Fulton is retiring as deputy head of school from Springdale after 50 years in education.
Pictured in the garden courtyard that came together at Springdale Preparatory School under her watch, Lorraine Fulton is retiring as deputy head of school from Springdale after 50 years in education. (Dylan Slagle/Carroll County Times)

Springdale Prep, which is a day and boarding middle and upper private school with an International Baccalaureate curriculum, was Fulton’s last stop on her 50-year career. The institution has hired Gerald Boarman, a longtime Prince George’s County educator, to take her place.

She said being part of the instructional team, working with admissions to enhance enrollment and getting to know the students were some of her favorite memories. She added she also enjoyed the school’s diversity and the way students cared about one another.

“You didn’t have to tell them to do that,” she said. “It was in our DNA.”

Valerie Tucker, Springdale’s office manager and human resources director, described Fulton as someone who is dedicated to education and great to work with.

“She always made everything work out,” she said.

Tucker added that Fulton “was always willing to help wherever she needed to help.”

Ashley Yuan, president of the school, said she will miss Fulton’s high work ethic.

“You can rely on her to be responsible for anything,” she said. “She’s always here for me when I need anything. She’s just extremely reliable.”

Fulton, a Finksburg resident, completed an undergraduate fine arts degree in Nova Scotia. She later completed her Master’s degree at Salisbury University and doctorate at University of Maryland, College Park after studying curriculum instruction and counseling, as well as psychology.

“To be in education as long as I’ve been … you have to love to learn,” she said.

Throughout her time in education, Fulton said one of the biggest changes was, of course, technology.

“Technology will enhance excellent teaching but technology cannot replace normal teaching,” she said.

Fulton added one of the “heart breaking” elements of the past school year was seeing the negative impact online learning had on some students. She said the “immediacy” is another aspect that changed in education. People need the answer right away, she added, instead of taking the time to go into depth.

Fulton said she encourages younger educators to diversify their learning “because you’re going to be able to diversify your teaching” and could open doors to other education opportunities.

Her other piece of advice was to respect the children. She said she’s never been in a school when respecting children wasn’t reciprocated.

“I think children in Carroll County are very fortunate to be children in Carroll County,” she said. “Whether that’s in public schools or independent schools. It’s a good place to grow up.”

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