Houghton Alumnus, Cathy Fabiatos ’99, was recently named the new Superintendent of Holland Central School District. In constant motion, her remarkable journey of continued education interwoven with career advances shows her perseverance and work ethic.
After high school graduation, Cathy earned an associate’s degree in merchandising management. Then life grew busy, children entered the picture and years passed by. “Houghton, along with some other schools, would send me information periodically about bachelor degree programs, but the timing was never quite right,” relates Cathy. Finally, in 1998 the time had come. Encouraged by her husband to pursue her bachelor’s degree, Cathy enrolled in Houghton’s Adult Education program which only required her to attend classes one night a week. This would work well with her busy schedule of work and family.
“I’d been thinking of getting into corporate sales,” says Cathy. But then one day someone from Houghton College asked her a pivotal question, “Have you ever considered teaching?” Before she had even graduated from the adult education program, Cathy was already enrolled in a master’s in education program through Canisius College. Through extremely hard work and long hours, Cathy had achieved her masters by August of 2000 and was set to student teach and launch into a new field as a high school business teacher.
Then, tragedy struck. Cathy’s husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. “I was about to begin my student teaching at West Seneca,” Cathy remembers. “I could have returned to my old job, my boss would have welcomed me back, but with two children to support and now on my own, that just wasn’t going to pay the bills. I had come this far with my new pursuits, I decided I just needed to continue to move forward and pursue this new career.”
Jobs for business teachers were not easy to come by, as many schools were eliminating business courses and not replacing retired educators. But Cathy continued searching and was able to take on a long-term sub position at Fredonia High School. At the same time, she began teaching as an adjunct professor at Bryant and Stratton. Still looking for full time permanent work that would provide needed insurance and income, Cathy landed a position at Pine Valley Central School. The daily 82 mile roundtrip to Pine Valley and back was not necessarily easy, but Cathy loved the work and continued with Pine Valley for 12 years. Throughout those 12 years she also continued to teach classes for Bryant and Stratton as an adjunct professor.
Not being content to go into auto-pilot mode, during those 12 years at Pine Valley, Cathy continued to pursue further education. She’d begun thinking about moving into a more administrative role and in 2005 completed a second master’s from Canisius College, this time in Administration and Supervision.
Back at Pine Valley, Cathy began to fill in with administrative duties and eventually changed roles there to become the principal of the junior/senior high school. She then completed the New York State Superintendent Development program.
When the superintendent position opened up for Holland Central schools, Cathy, humble about her capabilities, turned in her application materials. After Cathy was granted a first interview for the job she thought, “Wow, I got lucky.” But a second interview proved that more than luck was at play. Clearly Cathy’s hard work, continued education and excellent reputation had led her to this point.
Her interview took place on a Friday; the school board was to meet that evening to make a decision about the candidates. “They told me not to expect to hear anything until Monday morning,” Cathy said. “But as I was dozing off later that night, the phone rang. I looked at the number and said to myself, ‘they wouldn’t call this late with bad news, would they?’” And in fact the news was good. Cathy’s years of persistence paid off with the job offer.
Now as the superintendent of Holland Central School, Cathy says, “It’s exciting, it’s hectic, it’s challenging, but it’s awesome and I love it. I cannot wait for the buildings to be full of people. I look forward to doing my best to make a difference.”