By Danielle Borelli and Gabriella Donahue
Bird Middle School Principal Bridget Gough has seen many sides of the Walpole Public Schools in her lifetime. As a former student, current parent, teacher and principal she has now redefined her role in the community once more: in May, she received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Boston College (BC).
“I was encouraged by Dr. [Lincoln] Lynch,” Gough said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of administration, my colleagues and my family. Knowing that I had all those pieces in place, I felt comfortable being able to pursue [the degree] because it’s a huge time commitment and sacrifice,” said Gough.
Three years ago, Gough began to pursue her dream of getting a doctoral degree. Lincoln Lynch, Walpole Public Schools’ (WPS) superintendent, completed the same course at BC as Gough. Plunging into the doctorate program at BC, Gough had a few goals for the WPS District—Bird Middle School (BMS) in particular.
“I always wanted to be able to connect that policy, theory and research to practice, and this program did that.”
Working as a cohort amongst other administrators, Gough’s group was split into six parts—hers being Social Justice Leadership.
“Boston College has such a great focus on social justice,” Gough said. “[The] focus of equity and opportunity for all students is really what interested me to pursue that.”
“I think that with my new degree, I can take my slice of the dissertation to make sure that we provide learning opportunities for all students and then being able to support novice teachers, making sure they can meet student needs and support them in creating teacher leadership opportunities,” said Gough.
Gough’s accomplishments have sparked success amongst eighth graders Brooke Lanchester and Mikayla Preto, who were elected BMS’s 2016 National League of Middle School Scholars Award winners this past May. BMS elects two students each year who demonstrate academic achievement, provide service to classmates, are positive role models and demonstrate integrity and self-discipline.
“Mrs. Gough has made a very positive impact over the past years because she has helped us to reach our full potential and pushes us to do great things,” said Lanchester.
“[She] has encouraged everyone to try their hardest, strive for greatness and has provided us with a safe and positive environment,” said Preto.
Gough chose the winners for their noble actions inside and out of the classroom.
“They demonstrate leadership when no one is looking,” Gough said.
Gough feels that she would not have been able to come as far as she has without the support of the district.
“The community is very supportive in terms of providing feedback, resources and volunteering their time to help support us in the achievement of our students,” said Gough.
With her new degree, Gough admits that new avenues may be created for her, but for now her focus is on Walpole and BMS. She hopes to strengthen programs at BMS in order to meet the needs of the Walpole community.
“This is obviously where my heart is,” said Gough. “It’s a great community to be a part of.”