Inspired to a career in education out of a desire to reach and connect with others, Joyce M. Fortune began her studies at Rhode Island College and Providence College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1973. From there, she joined the New England Christian Academy, where she taught middle and high school students for 28 years until her retirement. During this time, she was perpetually motivated by getting to know each of her students and doing her utmost to help them succeed. She considers learning from her mistakes to have been the key her professional growth and success in the field, and always emphasized to her students that while your actions will have consequences, your mistakes do not define you as a person. Another lesson she always strove to impart to her students was that there is hope in every situation no matter how bleak it seems.
With a great love of literature, Ms. Fortune was known for doing any assigned readings in the classroom, as opposed to as take-home assignments, because she felt that it helped the students relate to the characters better since she could help explain things as they went. She would either read to her students or the students would take turns reading in front of the class if they felt comfortable doing so. She never forced students to read aloud if they didn’t want to. In addition, Ms. Fortune considers her most notable achievement to be encouraging her students to write and submit poetry for publication. Four of her students wound up published in “The American Poetry Anthology” series from Library of America.
Ms. Fortune continued to learn throughout her career, notably pursuing a master’s degree at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. It was at UMass Dartmouth where she met her mentor Dr. William Rotondi, an accomplished psychology professor. During a mock interview in one of his classes, a question about interracial relationships came up and Ms. Fortune shared a story about her father’s disapproval when her sister dated a Black man. This experience led to a lasting friendship between the two and they remained in touch following her graduation in 2012.
In addition to her primary career responsibilities, Ms. Fortune has been involved in a variety of other civic and professional endeavors. During her undergraduate years, she and a group of classmates established a group called Baby Boomer Babes and Brawls, a social group that created a support system when they went out or otherwise needed support living away from home for the first time. Ms. Fortune has also spent time as a tutor for Club Z! Tutoring Services; a volunteer with the St. John’s Christian Academy, the New Testament Christian Academy and the Grace Gospel Church; and a member of the Association of Christian Schools International.
For her excellence, Ms. Fortune was named Teacher of the Year in 1987. She has also been recognized for her professional achievements with the Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award, named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional and was previously featured in Who’s Who in Education. Above these accolades, Ms. Fortune considers one of the greatest highlights of her career to be when she was approached by one of her former students, who expressed that Ms. Fortune was her favorite teacher, because Ms. Fortune never made her feel like less of a person, even when she got in trouble in class.
Furthermore, Ms. Fortune has been very active with the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary and AMVETS as a result of her late husband, Fred, who was a veteran of the Vietnam War. Her two sons, Christian and Scott, are also involved in the military, with Christian serving in the U.S. Army and Scott as a U.S. Air Force mechanic. In her free time, she enjoys kayaking, reading and attending book clubs, singing in her church choir, and spending time with her friends. Hoping to leave a legacy as someone who cared greatly about her peers and her students, Ms. Fortune would advise young and aspiring professionals that there is always something to learn and improve upon in your life and that there is good in everyone.