Alumni Spotlights

Joshua Prieur, ’08, M.S.Ed.’10: Home Is Where the Job Is

  • on March 31, 2015
  • by Lisa McMahon, MA'09

Joshua Prieur, ’08, M.S.Ed.’10, has achieved his dream of becoming a school administrator just a few short years after earning his master’s degree in literacy. And he’s still amazed at how it all came about.

“It’s been a wild ride,” he admits.

The Ontario, Canada, native came to Niagara with a desire to become an English teacher, inspired by one of his own high school teachers. Although his Learn and Serve Niagara and student teaching experiences confirmed this desire, he still didn’t know what he wanted to do after graduation. So he decided to accept a position as a graduate assistant in the College of Education and continue his studies. That was when he met Dr. James Mills, a retired school superintendent on the faculty of the college’s Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, who encouraged him to consider pursuing a career in school administration.

“I kind of got the bug from that,” Josh says.

When it was time to start applying for jobs, Josh and his then-girlfriend, Jillian Cuff, M.S.Ed.’09 (the two married in 2012), followed her father’s advice: Home is where the job is. Find somewhere that will fit your personality.

The two decided to focus on the Sun Belt. “If we were going to leave Western New York, we might as well go somewhere sunny and warm,” Josh says.

A Teacher Recruitment Day in Buffalo gave them the opportunity to apply to numerous school districts in the southern states; among them, Palm Beach County, Fla., the 11th largest district in the continental U.S. Both were offered a contract for an on-site interview should they be in the area. Five days later, they were.

After meeting with the district, Josh and Jillian were both offered jobs; he at Boca Raton Community High School, and she at Eagles Landing Middle School. Josh notes that their Niagara experience was key to getting the jobs.  

“I didn’t realize how powerful the NU degree was,” he says. “The district in Florida already knew about Niagara.”

Josh taught English for two years, but his administration aspirations were always on his mind. Despite his relatively short time in the classroom, the principal supported his career goals and in 2013, after earning a second master’s degree in educational leadership, he was offered the position of dean of students at the high school.

“I couldn’t believe the opportunity,” he says. “I never expected to become an administrator so quickly.”

Today, Josh is responsible for 430 students in grades 9-12. The workload is immense, he says, but he notes that he follows the example of service he learned from his NU professors.

“The Vincentian tradition was so evident among the faculty members,” he says. “Their passion for education and service helped shape me as a person, and so I’ve dedicated my life to that kind of service.”

Josh would like to become a principal some day, but he’s open to whatever possibilities he is afforded along the way.

“One of the nice things about being in a large district is that I don’t know where it’s going to take me, and I’m okay with that,” he says. “Life is a journey that’s just unfolding.”