Karen Cote Fortuna

Profile Updated: March 24, 2018
Karen Cote
Residing In Mineral, VA USA
Spouse/Partner John Fortuna
Occupation Retired to the lake!
Children Jennifer, born 1974 & Janine, born 1976 (stepchildren),
Thomas, born 1985; Katelyn, born 1991
Karen Cote


Yes! Attending Reunion

We have 5 beautiful grandchildren; Emma, Cote, Gia, Reagan and John.

School Story

Actually, I would like to share a long-overdue story of gratitude. I apologize, in advance, for the length of my story, and please understand one thing - this isn't a story of bragging. It's a success story that started with Miss Harsh.

Remember the old days? We could literally have the same teacher for years! Unfortunately, I had the same math teacher throughout the middle school years. If the "D" had not been added to the grading scale in 9th grade, I would have failed math. I tried everything to understand the new related math concepts, but nothing worked. I remember begging my math teacher to let me come to him for after-school tutoring, but he told me that 'he wouldn't waste his time with me, because as a cheerleader, I wasn't serious about learning and applying myself academically'.

Needless to say, I thought I was truly stupid where math was concerned. Therefore, in my first year of high school, I signed up for Related Math II; instead of Algebra I, with all my classmates.

I was placed with Miss Harsh, who was new to teaching. She seemed enthusiastic about teaching and had an approachable demeanor! So I finally pulled together the courage to ask her for after-school tutoring, and, just so I didn't place too much burden on her, I told her that I would do my best to get everything I needed within 2 weeks (I figured after that, it would probably be a hopeless case, anyway) Well, much to my surprise, she said 'I would be happy to meet with you - for as long as you want to come'.

I met with Miss Harsh every day for 2 weeks. Not only was she an excellent teacher, but she was also a very kind and patient person. She was using new and different techniques to explain and demonstrate mathematical principals. I'll never forget the "light bulb" moment. It was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. Suddenly, math made sense!

After that, Miss Harsh worked with me on advanced math principals, and she had me help others in our class who were struggling. Of course, what better way to gain confidence? I went from feeling ignorant, to an all A math student who sought out math classes through the remainder of high school.

Upon graduating, I was offered a full, 4-year college scholarship that would pay for any college of my choice, but, knowing that I didn't learn through conventional teaching methods, I turned down the scholarship.

Instead, I took 100 hours of keypunch, gained my certification, and began working as a keypunch operator. Very quickly I figured out how to program the machines, and then, learned how to program the more sophisticated computers. This eventually propelled me into systems' analysis, where my life's career began. One of my earliest major jobs was to design, develop and implement a data entry system and to bring all data processing in-house for a major insurance company in Dallas.

I wore many hats in the field of analysis; from training, to design and implementation of systems, to account manager. On one job, I was a senior manager in charge of overhauling and implementing a new welfare management system for the state of NY. After that job, I was asked to head up a technical team to assist AT&T, NY through the divestiture process. In early 1985, I became pregnant with our first child, and decided to retire from working so I could be a full-time mom. At the time of my retirement, I was managing a multi-million dollar account for EDS in Long Island, NY.

As it turned out, I was gifted in the area of math. However, I have only one person to thank for giving me an opportunity to discover this fact, and literally, for putting me on a journey of success - Miss Harsh.

Miss Harsh also helped me understand that everyone doesn't learn in the same way, and that intelligence isn't always recognized through strict academic standards of testing. I can't even begin to describe how that cognition has helped me raise my children.

Thank you, Miss Harsh. I wish everyone could have a Miss Harsh in their life.

Karen's Latest Interactions

Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2021 at 3:33 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2020 at 3:35 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2019 at 3:33 AM
Mar 24, 2018 at 10:02 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has left an In Memory comment for Steven Bull.
Feb 18, 2018 at 3:33 PM

I’ll never forget the time he took me flying - he was a wonderful pilot and a great friend

Karen Cote Fortuna changed her profile picture.
Feb 06, 2018 at 11:36 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2018 at 3:33 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has left an In Memory comment for her Profile.
Feb 22, 2017 at 11:33 AM

So sorry that Russell was taken this early in his life.  My memory of him in high school was his compassion and kindness.  He didn't mind helping anyone who was struggling and I will always remember his sweet smile.


Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2017 at 3:33 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2016 at 3:33 AM
Karen Cote Fortuna has a birthday today.
Jan 15, 2015 at 3:33 AM