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story.lead_photo.caption Katie Boland sits in her new office as principal Fulton High School. Boland has worked in the school district for 18 years and was previously an assistant principal at FHS for four years before taking over as principal. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

Fulton High School's new principal looks to build upon the progress made by past leadership.

Kati Boland served as assistant principal of FHS for the previous four years before taking the helm this summer. Boland has long aspired to be a principal, and this opportunity's timing worked out perfectly for her.

"When (Chris Mincher) made the decision to move on it was a pretty natural decision, I think. I love this building, I love the environment and the culture that we've built here, and I wanted to continue to be a part of that," Boland said.

Boland officially took over as principal in July. She and new assistant principal Josh Pierce made the administrative transitions this summer.

Boland, originally from the east coast, moved around a lot growing up due to her father's college soccer coach career and ended up in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she finished high school.

Boland has lived in Fulton for the past 20 years and has worked for the Fulton School District for the past 18 years. She spent 14 years at Fulton Middle School where she taught English language arts and science before becoming assistant principal at FHS.

"All of us (educators) are in this profession because of kids," she said. "So, all summer, my mind's been working on the paperwork side and the money side of things, but I'm excited for the kids to be back. I want the kids back in this building. It doesn't seem to have that heartbeat when the kids are out of the building. I want that pulse back in the building."

Boland acknowledges one of the biggest challenges she anticipates facing as a new principal is all of the new responsibility she will have in the building. She previously dealt primarily with attendance and discipline as assistant principal.

"I was aware of what this job entailed, but I'm really now just starting to get into it to see for myself. But I was ready for that change and that new step," she said.

The transition has not been too taxing, Boland said. She credits the school district as being one of her biggest support systems throughout the process.

"I just feel extremely supported in this district. It's just nice to see they value the leadership role and know we need that support to be successful," she said.

While Boland looks to continue fostering the culture she helped build the last four years, she hopes to begin looking at what other schools are doing to inspire improvements.

"I'm a different person than the last principal, but I worked directly with him," she said. "I'm just hoping to continue the programs we have here that we have found through research that we know are working."

She envisions her ideal culture at FHS as being safe and supportive, yet challenging.

"We're in a unique situation; we've got (the students) for the last four years before they get out into the real world, and we really want to make sure when they leave here they've got the confidence they need to go in whichever direction they choose to go," she explained.

Boland is ready for the school year to kick off Aug. 21. FHS's open house will be Aug. 15 for all students and parents.

"(Students) have a faculty and staff here at the high school that is dedicated to them, and we can't wait for them to get in this building and get started with the academic year," she said.