- Carroll Connection
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.
- Debi Laster: Parent of Ben Laster ‘18 and Abby Laster (Grade 7), 6th year at Carroll
- Jeremy Nesoff: Parent of Leo Nesoff (Grade 7), 1st year at Carroll
- Susan Wagner: Parent of a Daughter (Grade 3) and Son (Grade 5), 2nd year at Carroll
Debi: School was frustrating for Ben. His teachers would tell me, “He is a model student. We wish we had a whole classroom full of Ben’s.” But as soon as I would pick him up, he’d fall apart. There would be emotional outbursts, explosions, frustration, ripping up of homework.
After we found out he was dyslexic, his school would not service him. They told us to wait so he could fail just a little bit longer.
Jeremy: In 6th grade, we started to notice Leo struggling in ways that concerned us at school. His personality, spirit and resilience were not negatively affected. But the homework battles and work at school were getting worse. School just didn’t speak to him.
Susan: In first grade, things started to unfold. My daughter was struggling and there was this little boy making fun of her for not being able to read. Her confidence went from this bright, beautiful girl to “I hate school. I don’t want to go. Please homeschool me.”
Getting to Carroll
Susan: We came to tour the school. I had the feeling that this was a great school but socially I was concerned for our daughter. We applied to the summer program to see if she would like it. Within the first week, she said “This is the best school ever.” So we applied for the academic-year program.
Debi: I didn’t know anything about Carroll. At the Info Session, they told us about their approach to learning and it all sounded great. But, I still had this nagging doubt. Then, Ben and I came and for his visiting day. He came out and he smiled ... a big smile. It was the first time I had seen Ben smile in 3 years. That’s when I knew. This is the place for him.
Jeremy: We went to the Open House and it was this “a-ha” moment. They presented the profile of a Carroll student and it was like a checklist of Leo, describing him to a “t”. It was like we found a home for him - a place where the school work was much more engaging, authentic and relevant to his life.
First days at Carroll
Jeremy: Leo was very excited. For us, how long he has to ride the bus is really big, one of the hardest parts about going to Carroll. But, the fact that he wakes up at 6 am and is out the door at 6:35 with all his things - together, ready to go and happy - is honestly a minor miracle.
Susan: Our daughter had such a positive experience at summer school that it helped ease her into the academic-year program. At the end of the day, she got in my car and said, “it was great!”
Debi: Ben and I were feeling cautiously optimistic. At the end of the day, Ben had this light to him. He didn’t break down in the car like I was used to. I asked him if we were going to go back tomorrow and he said “oh yeah.”
Debi: Ben’s teaching team made it super easy to navigate Carroll as a new parent. They knew him in a matter of days. They could see him. They could see his potential. As for Ben, he had more energy to do things. He was tired because he worked REALLY hard but it was different. It wasn’t this emotional, energy-sucking “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck” tired. It was more like “I’m tired but I accomplished something today and that makes me feel really good.”
Jeremy: The change in Leo comes down to his identity as a successful student. At his prior school, we had started to see some defeatism when it came reading, writing, and in other academic areas. At Carroll School, I see him with a lot more confidence, speaking up and being an advocate for himself. I see this new ability to engage in discussions with adults, to have big ideas, and to continue to be himself in that … it has been wonderful to see.
Susan: As a parent, it was a bit of a learning curve. I put my faith in the school but still couldn’t grasp it. At the first Parent Visiting Day is when it clicked for me. In tutoring, our daughter was doing O-G activities and I started crying. The tutor asks me if I’m okay and I said, “You don’t know how great it is to see my daughter do this.”
Debi: Ben was entirely prepared for high school. He recently wrote an essay for English class and his teacher submitted it to a literary magazine. He has launched. I’m a cheerleader and a supporter but he just does his own thing. I never thought it would be like this … never. It’s great.
WE ASKED: What makes Carroll “Carroll”?
Debi: What makes Carroll unique are the teachers and staff. They accept kids. They helped Ben accept and understand himself. And through his acceptance and understanding, he was then able to start to achieve his potential. It’s amazing.
Jeremy: The teachers and staff really know Leo, as a person and as a student. To have him in a school that knows him, that appreciates him, that values him and supports him is truly priceless. And, Leo is getting strategies to help him succeed. We’ve seen this incredible shift in him where he comes home and does his work himself. He gets it done.
Susan: Our daughter is a different kid today than 1 ½ years ago. She is this confident, get up, get dressed, ready to go to school kid. Even in a short few months since starting Carroll, our son is much more confident. At the recent Parent Visiting Day, the history teacher had all the students stand up and speak. In my mind, I’m saying “He would never EVER had done this at his past school.”
- Carroll Connection 2019-2020