Where Are They Now? Jennifer Buller '05BA '06MAT '13MS

November 05, 2014

Jennifer Buller

Jennifer works as Vice Principal of the Edward Devotion School in Brookline, MA.

Three degrees from Simmons? You're a Simmons all-star! What are your degrees in?

I have a BA in psychology, an MAT in elementary education and an MS in educational leadership! 

What is a typical day like at your job?

This is what I love most about my job, no two days are the same! Most days I arrive before the students and families start to trickle in and get settled for the day. I answer any emails or pressing issues that arose late in the afternoon or evening the day before. Then I head out to greet families and children as they arrive for school. Once the day is off and running I spend my day mixed between meetings with teachers, classroom visits, meetings with parents/interest groups and problem solving situations as they arise.
At the close of the school day I try to be out and present in the hallways seeing kids off to home or after school activities. Once all the students have left I spend the rest of my day working on professional development for teachers and pieces of the new evaluation system we are implementing. Usually once a week I am involved in some sort of cross town meeting with other school administrators from across the district.

What was the job application process like for you?

I spent a full year polishing my resume, building my references and applying for educational leadership positions. This past summer the position was posted pretty late due to a late departure of the previous vice principal. I threw my hat in not really thinking much of it and was pleasantly surprised to get an interview. My initial interview was with the principal and other vice principal. During the interview I felt comfortable and relaxed and really prepared. Part of the reason why I was so prepared was definitely the amazing experience I had during my two years in the Educational Leadership Program at Simmons. Just two hours after I left, the principal phoned and asked me back for a second interview. I went to that interview with a parent representative, two teacher representatives and the principal. During the interview I found myself circling back to my experiences and coursework at Simmons. The next day the principal phoned first thing in the morning and offered me the position.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working with an incredibly diverse population of students as well as teachers. I love working with adults and helping grow their professional practice with students. I also love the idea of being able to help and serve 820 students and their families rather than just a classroom of 20.

How did you know the organization was a good fit for you?

I was actually interviewing for identical positions at two different schools in Brookline at the same time. I knew Devotion was the right fit for me because all of the complexities and challenges that face the school excited me and really engaged me intellectually. I felt that my skill set matched the needs of the school more completely than the other school I was interviewing at. Since being here, I have confirmed this feeling a thousand times over. I have a deep commitment to public service. In addition I'm also committed to fostering a greater appreciation of the diversity of the human experience. There is really no better place those two values and missions come together than in public schools. Devotion gives me the opportunity daily to engage in each.

What was your favorite class you took at Simmons? Why?

It's so hard to pick just one! I have to say I use what I learned in Anne Whittredge's Supervision and Evaluation class daily. I often find myself in situations thinking, what would Anne say? Additionally Theresa Perry's Race, Culture, and Identity really shapes my work with our faculty and has helped me start some important work at our school. Lastly, my last semester seminar with Roberta Kelly was invaluable. The relationships she helped nurture within our cohort and the work she did on developing my leadership capacity and skills was really what catapulted me into this position. I really owe a lot of my success to her.

If you could come back and take one class at Simmons what would it be?

I always wanted to take some course work in Gender and Cultural Studies but never had the time...

What's your favorite part of post-college life?

I love being able to continue my learning either in formal or informal settings. I've also been able to start growing my family with my husband Alex and our 4 year old daughter Audrey. One of my favorite moments with Audrey was when I was working on my research project for my Educational Leadership degree and I brought her with me to work in the library. We then ate lunch together with all the "big girls" in the Fens. It was a really powerful moment seeing her excited about being at school and talking about how she wanted to grow up and go to college.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

As cliched as it sounds, Simmons really did help me find my voice. With each experience and degree I've pursued, my voice has grown stronger and stronger until it felt powerful enough to lead and support change in our public schools. All of my coursework and connections have really given me such an incredible foundation to build my experiences on. In addition Simmons really helped foster and strengthen my love for learning and passion for service to others.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I am hoping that I will have started and finished my doctorate in Educational Leadership somewhere and am a principal of a school. Ideally I would love to stay in the Boston area, but I also have my eye on moving west and perhaps beginning a career in the greater Seattle area.

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

Take advantage of all Simmons has to offer both on and off campus. Get out and enjoy all the cultural institutions of Boston both big and small. Make strong connections with your faculty and peers -- the power of networking is incredible. Whether it's ongoing through a volunteer organization or one time at an event, get out and help others -- public service is the food that keeps your soul healthy.