Meet Kate Collins, Incoming Upper School Division Head

Amy Dempster

Kate Collins joins the Carroll School family as the new Upper School Division Head for Academic Year 2020-21. Before you get a chance to meet her on campus, we thought our community would like to get to know her a little. We asked Kate to answer a few questions for us.

Meet Kate Collins

Kate Collins is currently in her 17th year teaching and leading in independent schools. Kate earned her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree in Moderate Disabilities at Simmons College, and a master’s degree in School Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently serving as the Director of Academic Support and Head of House at Milton Academy.

Q: Carroll's mission is to give each child what they most need. How have your experiences prepared you to deliver on this mission as Upper School Division Head?

I believe it was the 1996 movie “Jerry Maguire” that popularized the saying, “you had me at hello.” Well, Carroll had me at its mission. My 17 years as an educator have been dedicated to giving each child what they most need, across three unique school settings. I have worked with students and adults, not just to ensure access and equity for neurodiverse learners, but to ensure that my students feel supported, feel good about themselves, and have the space and time to develop their interests and identities.

Carroll’s mission has articulated, for me, nearly two decades of my work in a single phrase: “to give each child what they most need.” In some ways, perhaps beautiful ways, I have felt as if I’m speaking another language in my current setting. Like any foreign speaker in a different land that can feel exhausting. I share a language with Carroll School - the language that views learning differences as gifts to be celebrated, neurodiversity as strength in a community, and social-emotional development as an equal part to academic success. I speak Carroll.

Q: Carroll's Upper School has been referred to as a "family" by faculty, parents, and students alike. What are some ways that you will continue to nourish the Upper School culture as the program grows?

Being at a boarding school for the past 11 years, it’s nearly impossible for me to imagine a school that is anything other than a family. Families take care of each other, families support each other, families celebrate each other. Adolescents need more than the academic skills for school success. They need a supportive and safe space to explore their world deeply, to engage with others meaningfully, and to connect with all aspects of their identity.

I will continue to develop this sense of family by sharing myself, by supporting the health and wellness of all members of the community, by modeling open and honest communication, by communicating my commitment to knowing each and every member of our community well, and creating the space for all members of our community to be seen and heard and the time to connect with each other beyond the bounds of the classroom.

A family is fostered by ensuring all members of the community have opportunities to connect, despite their class schedule, and time to engage with all, despite their immediate and most pressing interests.

Q: What would you like to accomplish in your first year?

My first year is about learning, listening, and building relationships. Carroll is a dynamic school, for which I am incredibly grateful to be joining. Learning about the culture of the school and developing deep relationships with students, teachers, and parents is my ultimate goal for my first year. As the division head, I have a unique opportunity to be a model for what “being new” looks like - the excitement, the challenge, the unknown. Being new can be hard and I hope to model that by asking for help, and in turn, modelling that being helped is ok and is expected.

Q: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?

I attempted a stand-up comedy career in my mid-20s. By “career”, I mean I did a ton of open mic nights and some low-key shows in and around Boston. I obviously didn’t make it but I enjoyed it, learned a ton, and gained a lot of confidence. I remain a huge fan of comedy as an art, and also as a teaching tool for working with students in their expressive language development.

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