November 30, 2015

Ms. Stodolski: A Tale of Compassion, Dedication and Hot Air Balloons

Sarah Cehelyk, '18

Even though Upper School Principal Ms. Christine Stodolski has only been at GOA for a short period of time, her positive influence on our school community is already visible. Her desire to enhance the GOA experience inspires teachers and students alike.
Stodolski was born in Syracuse, New York, where her father was studying Engineering. She and her family moved to Massachusetts when she was three years old. She studied at a small high school, where her favorite high school subject was Physics; she got to take it for two years, which was “awesome.” She took education courses in college and ultimately became a teacher.
Stodolski cites several people as having been impactful role models for her. One such figure is Amelia Earhart, as she is impressed by Earhart’s bravery and willingness to break conventions and notes that Earhart had to be extremely smart to accomplish all that she did.
Stodolski’s affection for traversing the skies is not merely limited to historical pilots, however; among her many hobbies is hot air ballooning, which she came to love because her father owns a hot air balloon.
Pilots aside, her own teachers were inspirational, as well. The teacher that had the greatest impact on Stodolski was her Math and Literature teacher – the same teacher for both subjects. She was amazed at how intelligent he was with respect to two distinct, almost opposite topics. He explained things very clearly and allowed her to appreciate those subjects more deeply.
Another teacher, Laila Goodman, serves as Stodolski’s professional role model. Goodman went on maternity leave in 1992, during which time Ms. Stodolski was her substitute. After Goodman returned, she and Stodolski became very close friends. She considers Goodman her role model because she tries to live her life honestly and spiritually. She also always attempts to see the big picture in life and to see the best in everyone, characteristics that Stodolski tries to emulate.
Ms. Stodolski’s motivation for becoming a principal is unique: she says that she has spent a lot of time thinking about how the various components of an education system influence students in the classroom.
“Being in a principal’s position allows me to influence these systems, structures and relationships,” she claimed, “ultimately giving me the opportunity to impact student learning.”
She finds that the best thing about being principal of GOA’s Upper School is the warmth of the community and the commitment of the faculty to see students as whole people and not just students.
Perhaps most revealing of Ms. Stodolski’s compassion, intelligence and dedication to education, however, is what she would do if she won the lottery: she would start a foundation to help underprivileged students receive the quality education that they ought to have.
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