In case you missed the A&S Career Conversation with Michelle, you can read all about her career here!
Q & A with Michelle Gomes Sanchez
Principal of Epiphany School, Dorchester, MA
B.A., M.Ed. and Ed D at Boston College
Why did you choose your career?
As a student at Boston College, I had a teacher who knew I would make a good teacher before I knew it. He talked to me about the Donovan program and getting my Masters’ in Education. At first, I was very hesitant because I wasn’t sure that Education was what I wanted. I wanted to be a therapist not a teacher. I decided to look into the program and before long was convinced to give it a try. To my great delight, on my first day in the classroom, I knew it was the right move. I loved being in the classroom, I had found what I wanted to do with my life and better yet, loved doing it.
Describe your current job.
I am the principal at the Epiphany School. The Epiphany School is an independent, tuition-free middle school for children of economically disadvantaged families from Boston neighborhoods. We admit children of diverse faiths, races, cultures and cognitive profiles, through a lottery and through a relationship with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Epiphany prides itself on its small classes, individualized curricula, and extended school days which provide rigorous academic, moral and social instruction. We work in close partnership with families and are an innovative learning community affords structured support to help students thrive. I started back in 1998 as a founding Math and Science teacher and have since served as Vice Principal and Director of the Summer Program. I am currently the Principal and have been since 2002.
As the principal of a small independent school, I wear many hats. My main responsibility is to ensure that the students are wholly educated to the best of our ability. My major responsibilities are working with and training the staff daily. A big chunk of my time is spent observing classes and giving feedback, and serving as that service outreach liaison for the school.
Is there a typical day? If so, what does it entail?
I would like to say a typical day consists of some administrative planning, observing classes, running and attending meetings. But typical days are not typical. I can be found most often in a classroom or meeting with a student, teacher or parent. Other times I can be found helping in the kitchen, tutoring a child or even cleaning a bathroom.
Is there anything you do that you would have never assumed would be part of your job?
I believe that you must be willing to do anything you would expect others to do. I do not feel like I am above anything, if a toilet needs plunging, I am not above unclogging it.
Is there any sort of career preparation (graduate degree; internships, etc.) that is vital to your area?
Internships are the best way into teaching. You are working and learning with support all day for a year or two before you are set off to teach your own classes.