Catholic Memorial School, an all-boys school in West Roxbury, Mass., announced on Friday, Feb. 14 that it has selected Peter Folan, BC ’97, as the school’s fourth president.
Folan, who earned a master’s degree from the Lynch School of Education (LSOE) and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania, has worked in secondary and higher education for 17 years. He has taught high school English, coached varsity wrestling, and worked as the assistant director of program management in the Office of First Year Experience at Boston College for the past six years.
Education had always been Folan’s calling in life. One of his earliest childhood memories was one of him playing on the campus of Belmont Hill School with his best friend, whose father was the school’s president. That was in kindergarten. Folan went on to attend the school some seven years later as a student and then taught English there later in his life.
Although he always felt compelled by education, it was not until his sophomore year at BC that he decided on that path. He recalled that Rev. Bill Lambert, S.J., a priest and then the volunteer coordinator within the Campus School, pushed him to consider a career in education.
“He pointed out to me something that I had already known, but I just didn’t listen to, so that’s been a big part of my life,” Folan said. “A calling toward the education of young men and boys is something that has been a hallmark of what I have wanted to do.”
Folan listened to Lambert and started to take classes in LSOE his sophomore year, and he earned a master’s degree in the school’s five-year program.
Catholic Memorial’s appointment of Folan was a culmination of a nine-month long national search, in which 10 candidates were screened and interviewed. The school’s committee charged with finding the next president unanimously agreed to hire Folan for the job.
“In Peter we have found a president who will be a powerful leadership presence in the CM community,” said the Catholic Memorial press release announcing the school’s decision. “Peter is an approachable leader with a passion for educational excellence, a belief in the Catholic Memorial mission, and a commitment to preparing boys for a global future.”
Catholic Memorial educates boys in grades seven through 12 and is part of the Christian Brothers Schools of Boston.
After earning his master’s at BC, Folan went on to teach English at Avon Old Farms School, a prestigious all-boys boarding school in Connecticut. He also coached the varsity wrestling team there.
After his first year at Avon, Folan’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia, so he returned home to Belmont to be with her and started teaching in Belmont public schools. He taught there for a number of years and coached the varsity wrestling team at Lexington High School. The students of Belmont High School recognized him with a Teacher of the Year award, but he began to question his career path.
“I did that for a number of years and wasn’t so sure if I was going to stay in the educational field,” he said. “I think that third or fourth year teachers always start to wonder whether it’s the field [they] want.”
Just around that time, Belmont Hill-the high school Folan graduated from-called and offered him a job as an admissions officer, English teacher, and varsity wrestling coach. Folan accepted and enjoyed his time at Belmont. In 2006, BC called to offer him a job in the Office of First Year Experience.
Folan returned to his alma mater-the same school where his mother and wife graduated-and has since led programs such as the 48Hours retreat.
“I think I’ve learned more maybe than I have given to the students that have sat in my office, and that has given me such great confidence as I leave Boston College to know that there is nothing I would be uncomfortable with students and parents talking with me about,” he said.
For the past two years, Folan has taught a course about gender with Women’s Resource Center Director Katie Dalton. The course, titled “Thinking about Gender,” is part of the University’s Cross Currents Seminar program.
“In many ways, I noticed when I first came to Boston College, that I saw in freshmen that same look in the eyes that I saw in middle school [students],” he said. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re supposed to be and who they’re supposed to be.”
Folan said that he does not prefer one age group to the other, but that both offer exciting and unique experiences. He hopes to take what he learned about students during his six years at BC to better prepare the students at Catholic Memorial, where he will begin in July. Specifically, he said he will evaluate the school’s retreat programs to see how they prepare the students for life.
“It’s been interesting for me to go through that discernment process that I’ve spent so much time helping students consider,” he said of his decision to accept the Catholic Memorial job. “I think the hard part is when you have two great options like I had.”
Folan’s time at BC has been formative for him-as a mentor for seniors who lead 48Hours and as a guide to all students who come knocking on his office door. His decision to take the Catholic Memorial job was a difficult one, but one that he believes will allow him to influence the impressionable lives of young men.