There’s a New Tiger in Town: Meet Chuck Fortuna
Chuck Fortuna was appointed in June as principal of the 813 students and 60 teachers and staffers at what was previously Davidson Elementary School. Now, however, the large building on South Street is known as Davidson K-8, reflecting its transition to add sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Tigers to the school.
Just the second day of classes, Principal Fortuna graciously took time to talk with NewsOfDavidson.Org about his new assignment.
NOD— What was the purpose of the construction?
CF— We added an entirely new three floor building that will eventually house our fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. Now it’s being used by grade 5 on the third floor and grade 6 on the second. The first floor isn’t being used this year but will be fully utilized next year.
We also built a new soccer field that was sodded last week. We’ll have access to that beginning October 1 after the sod takes. Finally, behind the new building are two playgrounds that had to be moved during the construction but are now reinstalled. The extra space there means just one grade level at a time gets to use them, and there’s more space for everyone to play.
NOD—How’s the new car drop-off system working?
CF—Very well! On the first day it took 35 minutes to get everyone through the line, and the next day it just took 20. It’s hard to figure too accurately because on the first day or two more people than normal drive their children to school. I’m confident we can get it down to a 15-minute process.
NOD—What’s the reason to turn Davidson from K-5 school to K-8?
CF—Middle schools across the country are struggling. Students go through a lot of complex personal feelings and phases in middle school, and sometimes their decision-making isn’t the best.
In Davidson K-8 we have 106 sixth graders, while other regular comprehensive middle schools may have 600. In general, students get more personalized attention in K-8. Teachers know their names. I know their names. When we change classes during the day, it’s 100 kids in the halls instead of 400 or 600. The K-8 is more kid-focused because there are fewer kids.
K-8, in general, allows us to ensure quality instructional programing for a longer period of time. Going into the middle school setting from lower grades becomes less of a change for the students, and anything that makes school better for kids is an advantage to all involved
NOD—What are the strongest areas of education here at Davidson K-8?
CF—The community is a strength, parental involvement is a strength, our incredible staff is strong, and we have the most trustworthy and polite kids that I have ever met. I think it’s all based on the small town feel of the Davidson community itself. We are the only school in CMS that enjoys a small town atmosphere, and that lends itself to a strong school.
NOD—How did you settle on a career in teaching, and did you ever consider other careers?
CF—No, I was never headed in a different direction. A couple of teachers at my schools in Allegany New York, a small town outside of Buffalo where I was raised, helped me out and made a big impact on me. I came to realize that in teaching you have an opportunity to impact all students in the community, and that can impact the future of your community. With that in mind, I served as student council president my senior year of high school, and have been involved with public education ever since.
NOD—What are your hobbies and interests?
CF—I played football from age 6 to 22, all the way through my undergraduate years at Alfred University. I’m not exactly on crutches, but I still feel it sometimes! I love my family and I love the outdoors. I’m excited that my older daughter seems to be showing a slight interest in fishing, which is also something I love.
NOD—What attracted you to apply for the position here?
CF—I’ve had my eye on this position for quite some time because I have been long interested in how K-8 works. So, when the position came open I knew it was my time to apply. The small-town atmosphere was also a huge attraction for me because that’s the type of place where I grew up. Also, I love involved parents who’ll come in and talk with me, and we had 75 or so attend our first coffee chat. It’s great to see so many parents interested in their children’s education. I’m really looking forward to getting involved in the community and building a partnership that makes this a true school for all of Davidson.
Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.