Education Major, Class of 1990Titusville, New Jersey
The path that led Tim Fish to his current job as an associate headmaster at a private school in Maryland was full of twists and turns. Fish excitedly and gracefully embraced each opportunity and setback he faced. With guidance and self-determination, he has carved out an impressive and eclectic career for himself.
When Fish entered his freshmen year at Saint Francis, he began his studies as a chemistry major. He was doing well and sailed through his chemistry classes—until organic chemistry. The course was more difficult than any other chemistry class he had taken. Fish spent countless hours studying and memorizing, but his hard work didn’t make the class any easier.
“Organic chemistry was the most valuable academic experience I had. I learned that you can study for 30 hours for a test and still fail. Sometimes you can work and work and work and it just won’t happen,” shared Fish. Undeterred, he made the tough decision that chemistry wasn’t for him.
Armed with a lot of chemistry and biology credits and not sure what field to pursue, Fish sought advice from his professors. “Saint Francis does a phenomenal job of helping kids figure out who they are and what path they want to be on. It’s messy, but in the messiness is where the beauty lies,” said Fish.
He followed his heart and professors’ guidance to embark on a major in elementary education. Fish graduated from Saint Francis with a degree in elementary education and a minor in biology. He began his career teaching fourth grade in Fairfax, VA. During his second year of teaching, he fell in love with an emerging technology—computers—and entered a master’s program in technology instruction. It was there that Fish discovered his passion for coding.
He merged his love of education and technology to become a technology coordinator for nine schools in Fairfax County. “I happened to catch the technology wave. I was in the right place at right time, and ate up everything with technology,” commented Fish. He then took job at the department of instruction in Fairfax where he was running big technology projects for a massive school system of 170,000 children.
He stayed in that position for a while, but then a job opened up at McDonogh School in Maryland. The school was near where his wife (also a Saint Francis graduate) was raised. He fell in love with the independent school experience and took a job as the school’s technology director. Fish spent eight years in that position.
During that time he and two others worked together to write a book about technology leadership. Penning the book led Fish to delve more into strategic thinking and leadership design.
“I then took on other roles at McDonogh. I project managed a new 120,000 square feet building on campus. That led me to get involved in fundraising, construction, and telling the school’s story. Then I had an idea of how the school could raise money with a start-up. We developed a platform for evaluating teachers. I took a sabbatical for a year to visit schools and get the idea off the ground. Now more than 100 schools around the country are using the product,” stated Fish.
He initiated the start-up for McDonogh and returned to the school to begin running the admissions department. With his vast experience in education and different facets at McDonogh, Fish later took on his current position as associate headmaster at the school.
Fish credits Saint Francis for helping him reach extraordinary heights in his career. “Saint Francis helped in a lot of different ways. I’m a big believer in the power of relationships—that’s definitely something that Saint Francis instilled. The faculty there know their students and care about them. Saint Francis’ size is engineered for teachers to interact with students and help them figure out who they are. It was a remarkable experience and has served me well,” said Fish.
I remember being a freshmen and all we wanted was pizza—and not pizza from in town. So, at 4 pm, we walked to Ebensburg for pizza, ate, and walked back. We got home in the morning. There’s something about being in Loretto that helps you form strong, long-lasting relationships—because you’re walking 16 miles with people for pizza (laughs).
Dr. Weixel, who taught English, definitely comes to mind. He really made me appreciate literature. Dr. Bradley taught philosophy and forced me to think in different ways. That stuck with me. Also, Dr. Melusky for government. His course is the only college course that I still have my notebook from; I’m so proud of my American government notes. He made government very interesting and was a phenomenal professor.
It helped me form my own thoughts about education, and being in education you need to know what you believe. I also learned to write, and I write a lot now. Organic chemistry was defining for me, too. I tried very hard and didn’t succeed, so now I can look back on it and think ‘I did that, I can do this.’
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