Staying Connected: Alumni Stories

Staying Connected: Alumni Stories
Carroll School

Beyond the campus of the Lower, Middle and Upper School are nearly 4,000 Carroll alumni. They often tell us that their lives have been informed and transformed by their Carroll experience. These alums have given back to Carroll in many ways, through their time, energy and generosity. They all expressed their deep commitment to give back to Carroll, a school that gave them so much. To learn just how much Carroll continues to play a role in their lives, we asked four active alumni to share how their time here influenced their identity and path after graduation and why they stay connected. 

For the First Time, I Belonged

Bill Faulkner ’75

Panic struck on Bill Faulkner’s first day as a swimming instructor. Other instructors were taking turns checking attendance — reading 60 names aloud in front of all the parents.

“I didn’t realize that was going to happen. I can’t read names,” Faulkner ’75 recalled.

Faulkner turned to the problem-solving skills he had learned at Carroll School. He asked “to go last.” He had the remaining 7-year-olds meet him at the end of the pool. There, he could slowly sound out their names, out of earshot from adults.

He was 17. It was the first of many jobs he would navigate with dyslexia. But with the confidence he gained at Carroll, Faulkner never backed down from a challenge. Instead, he simply asked for help when he needed it.

He is especially appreciative of Mike Stratton and the Bounders program. Both inspired strength of character, leadership, and service. Outward Bound turned out to be a life-changing experience for Faulkner’s self-esteem and identity. It inspired him towards leadership in the civil service.

In college, he became president of a campus advocacy organization for students with disabilities. After graduating, he worked for the National Park Service for 31 years. He managed parks and provided interpretation and education programs for visitors.

“At Carroll, I learned what it was like to feel normal, accepted. For the first time, I belonged,” he said. “That paved the way for my success.” 

Bill Faulkner’s mother, Dorothy Faulkner, learned about dyslexia from a Boston Globe article that featured Carroll School. A single mother of five, she waited tables and had just $29 in her checking account when she paid the school’s $25 application fee.

“She was extraordinary,” Faulkner said. “Without hesitation, she wrote a check. Back in the car my mother‘s big sister inquired with great trepidation,‘How are you going to pay for tuition?’ My mother replied ‘I don’t know, but he needs it.’”

You Can Get to a Place in Different Ways

Gareth Randall ’08

Gareth Randall ’08 was a senior hotel management major when her heart took her in an unplanned direction. A visual learner and people person, she was drawn to an internship with an arts and culture center. There, she “fell in love” with nonprofit work.

Facing college graduation in just three months, Randall could have easily been discouraged about her degree not matching her newfound passion. But Carroll had taught her that life doesn’t come with a single path to achieve a goal.

“You can get to a place in different ways,” said Randall, who attended Carroll from fourth through eighth grade. “Carroll definitely taught me that it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of situation in life and in your career and education.”

Randall went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in hotel management, followed by a master’s in business administration. She now works for an independent school, where she helps build relationships with donors.

The toolbox she took from Carroll remains valuable in a job that requires her to organize her thoughts, sound out the words, or put outlines together before writing newsletter content. That toolbox, she said, “did just become a way of life.” 

It Changed How I Viewed Myself

Steve Baldini ’90

“One fish, two fish, red, fish, blue fish. Old fish, new fish. This one has a little star. This one has a little car.” 

Steve Baldini ’90 could go on, but you get the idea. He memorized the popular Dr. Seuss story many years ago when he was in the first grade. Memorization was a coping mechanism for his dyslexia before he came to Carroll School. And in hindsight, so were some of his behavioral issues.

Watching his peers succeed when he could not was tough on his self esteem. He acted out. He was held back in kindergarten. He was forced to change schools. When he began to read at Carroll, though, the experience fundamentally changed his behavior. “And you know, I think, in a lot of ways, it changed how I viewed myself.”

“It wasn’t until I went to Carroll that I figured out that ‘Yeah, I can do this,’” he said. And that realization also changed Baldini’s outlook on what he could achieve.

“To put it in the perspective of a building, I had a foundation that was crumbling,” said Baldini, who has worked in banking, commercial brokerage and real estate. “Carroll was able to shore up that foundation and expand it in a way that provided a solid base to build an education and career.” 

Yes, I Learn Differently

Sophia Gadsden ’14

When Sophia Gadsden ’14 walks into a department store in search of a product, she’s not just shopping. She’s immersing herself in a study on brands.

“I like to see what our competitors are doing and how we can push ourselves to look outside of the box,” said Gadsden, a wholesale marketing coordinator for a shoe manufacturer and retailer.

She calls herself a kinesthetic, or hands-on, learner. Gadsden needs to physically interact with her environment to better understand something. It’s a concept she discovered about herself during her time at Carroll. Since then, that discovery has helped her navigate school, college, and a career.

After Carroll and high school, she chose to major in advertising at a university where she could  actively participate in her education. She did not want to be another body in a lecture hall.

A student at Carroll from fifth to eighth grade, Gadsden also developed self-advocacy skills that continue to give her the confidence to share her ideas on everything from marketing banners to web pages. “Yes, I learn differently,” she said, “but I turned that into a positive.”

Every student at Carroll learns differently and the educators truly “take that to heart,” Gadsden said.

Recent Posts

Bill Faulkner '75 Carroll School Alumnus
Carroll School

Beyond the campus of the Lower, Middle and Upper School are 3,500+ Carroll alumni. They often tell us that their lives have been informed and transformed by their Carroll experience. These alums have given back to Carroll in many ways, through their time, energy and generosity.

Samantha Pfeffer Carroll School Alumna
Carroll School

Samantha was recently selected to participate in a fellowship with Eye to Eye National, an organization devoted to advocating for students with learning differences, which she first learned about as a student at Carroll. As part of the fellowship, she had a final project to produce. Read more about Samatha, and her compelling research topic.

The Bomb Shelter: Facts, Myths and Legends
Mary McNulty

Yes, it’s true, nestled in the idyllic woods on Carroll’s Middle School campus sits a bomb shelter. Depending on when you were at Carroll, as alums you’ll have varying degrees of bomb shelter access and stories. Let’s test your bomb shelter knowledge.

Fall Festival Fun Facts
Coach Mike Kmetz and Mary McNulty

In October, we celebrated our 44th Fall Festival! The mere mention of Fall Festival typically conjures memories of running around campus with friends, engaging in fun activities, and eating a variety of delicious food. But did you ever wonder what it takes to pull off this monumental event? Discover some fun facts about Fall Festival!

Association of LD Schools
Carroll School News

As part of our commitment to expanding awareness of dyslexia and learning differences, Carroll School is proud to be a founding school of a new education organization focused on collaborating and advocating for students with learning differences. The Association of LD Schools (ALDS) is a new non-profit, private school organization including over 50 founding schools across the country and in Canada that serve students with learning differences.

Meet Detra Watson, Lower School Division Head
Detra Watson, Lower School Division Head

I am thrilled to extend my warm greetings to the Carroll Community in my new role as the Lower School Division Head. It is with great humility and honor that I have been selected to lead the wonderful students, staff, and parents at Carroll. My primary goal is to foster an inclusive and vibrant learning environment that caters to students with language-based learning differences, as well as the dedicated teachers and staff who support them. Learn more about my educational philosophy, fun facts about me, and more.

Watts Family Foundation
Carroll School Advancement

It is with deep gratitude that Carroll School celebrates the receipt of a historic gift to our endowment from the Watts family. This generous contribution will open the door to more students who need financial support to access Carroll’s transformative education.

Bounders: Far More than Forest Games
Carroll School

To the untrained eye, daily Bounders' activities appear simple enough: Groups of kids playing in the woods. But to any Carroll student who has passed through the school’s four-and-a-half acres of forest—affectionately known as Bounders Woods—the experience is far more meaningful, at times, even revelatory.