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William Poland

Hometown: Johnston

Major: Elementary Education, concentration in Mathematics

Poland is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who was deployed in the Persian Gulf.

A graduate of New England Tech’s Plumbing, Heating and Gas Technology program, Poland spent five years working for a local plumbing company and preparing to take the state’s Master Plumber exam. An on-the-job injury resulted in the amputation of a fingertip and permanent nerve damage, leaving him unable to work.

Changing careers at 37 years old, Poland embarked on a degree in elementary education with a concentration in mathematics. “I chose my field of study because of my interest in learning mathematics and developing the necessary tools to plan, teach and critically reflect in a way that would help me provide equity in education for every student I teach,” he said.

Poland volunteered as a tutor through Inspiring Minds, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Providence’s public school students succeed. He tutored students at Harry Kizirian Elementary School who were identified as in need of math intervention.

When B.F. Norton Elementary School in Cumberland, where Poland was student teaching, sustained flood damage, he volunteered his plumbing and heating expertise to assist with the clean-up.

Because of Poland’s injury to his finger, he was allowed to write his formal papers and lesson plans rather than type them. However, he refused the accommodation. “Instead, I spent twice as many hours as most students in the elementary education program to type documents so I could do the same as everyone else,” he said.

Now, at 40 years old, Poland is graduating magna cum laude and won the Elementary Education Program’s Cap and Gown award. He is currently applying for substitute teaching positions.​

Page last updated: May 12, 2017