Titusville Academy’s new principal: from classroom aide to School leader

Twenty years ago, Lauren Doherty was not sure what her career might hold. Newly graduated with a BA in Psychology, and open-minded, she took an entry level job as a classroom aide at The Titusville Academy, a specialized school for students with learning and behavior difficulties in Titusville, NJ.

Lauren’s mother, Allyson Doherty, had been working at The Titusville Academy as an aide in a science classroom. When another aide position opened at the school, Lauren joined her mom, taking a position as a paraprofessional in an elementary classroom.

She could not have known then that, twenty years later, her continuous work with the school’s students, families, and her fellow staff would culminate in her leading the School as principal.

“I thought it might be a good place to start, somewhere where I could see if education was a good fit for me, and a place where I might be able to make a difference,” Doherty said.

Along the way, her psychology degree opened the door to more opportunity. She took a provisional, alternate-route teaching position in one of the School’s Middle School classrooms, and soon earned her teaching certification in Math, Science, Social Studies and Reading. In 2016, Doherty decided to pursue certification as a supervisor, facilitating her involvement in the School’s curriculum development, IEP writing, and staff supervision, all while continuing in her teaching role.

“The whole time I felt as if I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I’ve grown as an educator along with the School, and built important relationships with our students and my colleagues here,” Doherty said. “Everybody is rooting for each other.”

“Lauren has been a reliable and consistent contributor here at our school,” said Deborah Zerbib, The Titusville Academy’s Executive Director. “She knows how our programs work and has helped shape them over her years here. Now she’s using that experience and her relationships to put together a cohesive team. And that’s especially important for us as we address the specific challenges our students face,” she added.

Earlier this year, Doherty received her provisional certification as a principal, and in July was appointed The Titusville Academy’s principal, twenty years after starting at the school as a paraprofessional aide.

Asked about her priorities this year, Doherty said: “We’ve been making sure our instruction is as individualized and personal as possible, and less reliant on technology than we were during the COVID response. We’re also focusing on social-emotional learning and collaboration between our teachers and counselors.”

Doherty is not the only long-tenured staff member at Titusville. Her mother, now affectionately known as “Mama D,” still works at the School as well. “After all this time Titusville Academy really does feel like a family,” Doherty said. “And the kids get a kick out of learning that I’m my mother’s ‘boss.'”

About Titusville Academy

The Titusville Academy is an approved private non-profit coeducational special education school for students with learning and behavior difficulties, located in Hopewell Township, NJ. The school’s mission is to provide each student with the optimum opportunity to enhance their academic abilities as well as integrating the social and emotional development of each student into the total educational program.

For more information, visit https://titusvilleacademy.org, or call 609-737-7733.

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