The Journey

  • Carroll Connection
Steve Wilkins, Head of School

This article was originally featured in the 2019-2020 edition of Carroll Connection. In this edition we asked our community members to share their journey before, during, and after Carroll School.

In monthly information sessions with prospective parents we always tell them that Carroll enrolls one type of student. We’re very specific about that. Carroll children are bright, motivated, well-behaved students with language-based learning difficulties. It just turns out that we have 429 students in the school and, therefore, 429 variations of that theme.

We carry that notion forward into this issue of Carroll Connection. Carroll students share virtually the same journey but describe their unique experiences at each mile marker along the road. Each student has unique DNA and a unique learning profile, and Carroll responds to an individual’s differences by hand-crafting their daily schedule of classes and instruction. Yet, their stories are so similar.

The journey’s scaffold is a pattern that has endured through generations of Carroll students. It starts like this: A bright little kid in preschool becomes a shell-shocked first grader when reading is introduced as the gold standard for who is, and who is not, a good student. This bright young child rather quickly begins to understand that there is a difference. School becomes a less wonderful place with each turning page of the calendar. Why is reading so difficult? Why is this so much harder for me? Am I smart or am I stupid? Why do kids laugh at me when I can’t succeed in my classroom? These brave students endure this injustice for varying lengths of time but for each of them, eventually the bubble bursts.

Historically, Carroll parents are fighters as advocates for their children. The decision to move to Carroll is multi-faceted: upheaval from the current school and friends, time-consuming carpools, tuition payments, denial and bargaining, and eventually acceptance that one’s child needs a different school. It isn’t easy to think about coming to Carroll. It is even harder to actually make the move.

The student journey leads us further up the path to their earliest days at Carroll. There they all found comfort in being in a school that knows how to teach them. Students all discovered that there are lots of kids just like them. They found themselves among other smart children who struggled with reading-related tasks but who thrived in science, arts, athletics, problem solving, design thinking, leadership, or service to others. The realization that dyslexics are really good at many school tasks carried them through their years at Carroll.

The story moves beyond Carroll, into the next schools and colleges, and onto careers and happiness in life. The experience of learning at Carroll opens up wide opportunities for our students. Coming to grips with the differences of dyslexia early in life creates children who are gritty self-advocates, knowledgeable about how they learn, and determined to succeed. So often, a well-remediated dyslexic has experienced just the right amount of adversity in childhood to create a powerful and compassionate adult.

Read & Watch Videos from Carroll Connection 2019-2020


  • Carroll Connection 2019-2020

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