The Carroll Community Celebrates Steve Wilkins

Amy Dempster


Oh, What a Carroll Night! On Saturday, June 11, the Carroll community came together to celebrate the 2021 retirement of former Head of School Steve Wilkins. Parents, alumni, faculty, trustees, family, and friends gathered on the Lincoln campus to share a night of memories, stories, and accolades for Steve and Carroll School.

The night kicked off with a welcome from Head of School Dr. Renée Greenfield and Board Chair and parent Devin O'Reilly.

A Tribute to Larry Brown

They were joined on stage by Coach Kmetz, Jackie Kassis '13, and Mike Murphy '13 to laud former Middle School Head Larry Brown, who retired in 2020 after 43 years at Carroll. All shared stories about why they are "Wild about Larry!"

Mike Murphy shared,

"I am honored to be here to talk about one of the most influential men in my life. Larry Brown is a true role model to all and shapes the mind of every student that is lucky enough to cross his path. Mr. Brown has forever impacted my life for the better and helped make me into the man I am today and I know he’s done the same for countless others. Thank you Mr. Brown, for the life lessons, the self-confidence and the best memories I could’ve asked for.”

 

Steve Wilkins - Educator, Visionary, Leader

Renée then welcomed faculty, alumni, parents, and trustees to share stories of Steve Wilkins as educator, visionary, and leader.


Lower School Head Sue Kingman, former trustee Mike Coyne P'18 and P'22, and faculty member Mike Copacino '02 spoke about Steve as an educator.

Mike Copacino shared,

"To us--his colleagues--Steve modeled that educators can be BOTH deeply serious and committed to students’ growth. Steve encouraged us to share our interests, challenges, passions, and quirks with our students, so we serve as authentic role models and build the trust to take our students to places they never thought possible."

Joining them on stage was Middle School Head Allison West, Satchi Davis '13, and Acadia Alden '12, who lauded Steve as a visionary.

Acadia poignantly recalled,

"I had an unconventional path through Carroll. My one year in the C9 program wasn’t just about learning. It was about UN-learning. Unlearning that I had to follow ALL of the rules to be successful. And unlearning that my voice had no power in my education. I had learned to hate school so much that I actually thought I was getting away with something when Steve would take me out of math class to speak to families of prospective students. Looking back, I now know I was getting away with nothing. Steve and Kurt, after knowing me for just a few months, decided that taking the time to reinforce my confidence and verbal skills was more beneficial to my educational track – and my life – than the discipline gained from attending those few math classes. In just a few. Short. Months. That was 10 years ago, and that foundation has been the springboard for every single success I have had in my life. Thank you Steve."


Next, former trustee and interim Head Phil Burling P'85, Nicole Gilmore P'20, and former trustee Chuck Brizius P'20 spoke about Steve as a leader.

Nicole praised, 

"Steve, today we celebrate your leadership and COURAGE. The COURAGE to focus on a bold mission for this incredible school. The Courage to organize staff, teachers, and parents to dedicate their time and energy to give each child what they need. The COURAGE to push your students to believe in their potential, to believe in the gift of their dyslexia, and to challenge the norms set in their environments. Thanks to your courage, our children have the audacity to dream big dreams! Maddie, kiddos from your last history class, and all of us gathered here thank you for  your COURAGE."

Stephen M. Wilkins "Give Each Child" Speaker Series

After sharing a toast to Steve, Devin welcomed former Board Chair Dick Waters P'11 to the stage to share an update on the Wilkins Family Endowed Faculty Fund, currently over $2.9 Million, and to announce the Stephen M. Wilkins "Give Each Child" Speaker Series.

Dick shared,

"A lifelong learner, Steve championed that every human--students, teachers, staff--come to school every day with a growth mindset. He put that into practice by inviting experts in education, neuroscience, diversity, and life skills to share their knowledge. Tonight, I am thrilled to announce the Stephen M. Wilkins 'Give Each Child' Speaker Series, to ensure our community continues to grow personally and professionally for years to come."


Steve Wilkins Takes the Stage

In a humble and powerful thank you speech to the community, Steve thanks the Carroll community for their support of him and the school.

He first thanked the community for supporting the Wilkins Family Endowed Faculty Fund,

"Raising money for the faculty is the single most important thing this school can do. If we boiled down the essence of what is Carroll? What is the immovable at Carroll? Is it the buildings and the campuses? The hawk? The parking problem? What is quintessentially and essentially Carroll? It's the faculty. GEC - give each child - who does that? It's the faculty--with a ton of support from leadership and staff to make that happen. If you took this faculty and substituted it with another group of dedicated teachers, they couldn't do the job. They couldn't GEC. I am so delighted that this community understands that and raises money in honor of my family to support faculty."

He then welcomed Sarah Wilkins on stage and shared, while holding her hand,

"Sarah and I held hands for over forty years through our careers in three schools that are designed to give children with dyslexia what they most need in order to thrive. I think I need you up here with me."

Steve acknowledged staff members Mary McNulty P’08 ’09 ’12 for leading event planning and Mary Roberts for her years of service in the Head’s office as well as the speakers, Larry Brown, and his mother, Angie Wilkins,

"The reason why the Wilkins family is connected to Carroll is because of my mom, Angie Wilkins. My older brother followed in my father's footsteps and I got to follow in my mom's footsteps. Angie Wilkins started at Carroll in 1972 and introduced me to Carroll in 1977. She is a master teacher of teachers and a maestro of the Orton-Gillingham approach."

Turning to Renée,

"Carroll draws together talented people who want to do important things with their lives. The pandemic ripped away the opportunity to welcome the really talented new Head of School. I have talked to Renee every week for a year now and Carroll School has hired a really bright, caring, conscientious, "wicked" smart Head of School and yet the community hasn't welcomed her properly. So I would like to do that."

In a symbolic passing of the torch, he then transferred to her the "Original GEC" statue of an ape in The Thinker pose holding a brain.


Closing out his speech, Steve shared these powerful words,

"Carroll has a moral obligation to make sure that this school has faculty who know how to GEC, who can look at each child and deliver what they need. We have an obligation to stay on the cutting edge of science to make sure that we do better and better to help our students. And third, we have an obligation to make sure that this kind of education--this transformative education--is not limited to a privileged student. I am so grateful to Carroll School and the platform you gave to me to lead a life worth living. Thank you."



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