Sydney Fitzgerald: Finding innovative solutions for classrooms

College of Education
July 17, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sydney Fitzgerald swore she would never come to Penn State.

"As a stubborn teenager, I didn't want to attend the same school as my mom (Diane, a 1985 alumna of the Smeal College of Business). After touring several colleges, Penn State was my favorite," she said.

Sydney Fitzgerald

After graduating in 2012 with a degree in education and public policy, alumna Sydney Fitzgerald started her career with the School Nutrition Foundation and now helps bring technology to schools in New York City as a school accounts manager with New Classrooms Innovation Partners.

IMAGE: Submitted

Originally a secondary education major, Fitzgerald loved being in the classroom. But an internship at the New York City Department of Education taught her there were other ways to make a difference in the field. Fitzgerald changed her major to education and public policy, and earned her bachelor's degree in 2012.

Fitzgerald began her career as a coordinator at the School Nutrition Foundation in Washington, D.C. There, she assisted with the foundation's fundraising campaign, as well as a scholarship program for school nutrition professionals.

Fitzgerald said she gained valuable experience, but it was a temporary-to-hire position that didn't provide benefits. She left the School Nutrition Foundation to become a statistical support associate at the American Institutes for Research. Her work focused primarily on the Smarter Balanced assessment program, which utilizes computer-adaptive tests and performance tasks to measure students' abilities.

In 2015, Fitzgerald's niece was born, so she decided to move back to her home state of New York to be closer to family. During her next job search, Fitzgerald saw firsthand how life can come full circle.

"As a Department of Education intern, I was introduced to School of One, a really cool pilot technology program," said Fitzgerald. "During my interview at New Classrooms, I asked if they heard of it. It turned out that New Classrooms is School of One. Their name changed when they separated from the Department of Education."

Today, as a school accounts manager, Fitzgerald is responsible for 19 of the 41 schools in New Classrooms' portfolio. Specifically, she serves as a liaison between the technology, field and project teams, to determine schools' needs and how to best meet them.

Fitzgerald hopes her story inspires others who are passionate about enhancing education but want to seek opportunities outside the classroom.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 17, 2019