Coming Home: Chatting with parents, alumni & alumni parents who work at Carroll

Mary McNulty

"Carroll is one of those places that sticks with you." We hear this all the time from alumni and parents of alumni. Every year we tell our graduates that no matter where in life you go, you’ll always have a home in Carroll. Nothing excites us more than seeing so many come back to visit us on campus, drop us a line, comment on our social media posts, or even drop by remotely. We love hearing from alums!

We have seen a fantastic trend in recent years of alumni and parents 'coming home' to deliver the full Carroll experience to our students. In fact, there are currently a record 25 parents and alumni/alumni parents working at Carroll. We chatted with a few to learn more about why they have chosen to work at Carroll and what they are looking forward to this year.

Introducing ...

  • Heather Ahern: Alumni Parent (Quinn ‘19), Upper School Language Arts Teacher
  • Glens Colman: Alumni Parent (Shaymus ‘13), Curriculum Director/Assistant Division Head
  • Michael Copacino ‘02: Alumni, 6th Grade History Teacher
  • Stacey Daniels: Alumni Parent (Lilah ‘19), Chief Enrollment and Financial Assistance Officer
  • Erin Hanley: Current Parent (Reese, Grade 4), Middle School Nurse
  • Kelly Henry: Alumni Parent (Violet ‘16), Data Analyst
  • Nicole Jones: Alumni Parent (Annie ‘18), Middle School Language Arts Teacher
  • Mary McNulty: Alumni Parent (John ‘08, Erin ‘09, Bryan ‘12), Parent and Alumni Coordinator
  • Josh Mulready: Alumni Parent (Connor ‘18), Middle School Teacher
  • Zoe Norcross ‘04: Alumni, Middle School Teacher
  • Ben Shepard ‘02: Alumni, TCI Curriculum Coordinator
  • Katie Smith: Current Parent (Nell, Grade 5), Lower School Nurse
  • Carol Spooner: Alumni Parent (Ben ‘11 ), BR/2nd Grade Teacher

Q: What led you (back) to Carroll?

Erin Hanley: Since my daughter Reese's first visit to Carroll, I have always said "this is how school should be." I have always loved that Steve Wilkins uses GEC as a verb. As a school nurse, I have always strived to "GEC" and it's wonderful to work in an environment where GEC is paramount in every single aspect of the school.

Mary McNulty: Our family was immersed in the Carroll community from 2004 when John started in 5th grade to 2012 when Bryan graduated, an incredible 8 years. I remember sitting in the Spaulding Auditorium in 2004, with equal parts hope and fear. Did we do the right thing? Maybe Steve isn't really a mind reader, but it felt like it on that day. He addressed the group of new parents knowing exactly what we were thinking, and his words made my hope soar and my fear dissipate (at least a little). If half of what he said was true, I was in! Carroll delivered on it's promise and each of my children had their own unique and transformative Carroll experience. So getting to the question, what led me back to Carroll? I can't think of a better situation than to work at a place in which I so deeply believe in its mission. I now find myself as part of a team of staff, faculty and leadership whose dedication to furthering Carroll's mission is unparalleled. To be surrounded by such inspiring people - I can't think of anything more fulfilling.

Zoe Norcross: As an adaptive sports specialist, I found joy in supporting athletes in finding their strengths and, when teaching in Ghana, I realized there were few things better than a student recognizing what they are capable of achieving. When it came time to figure out my next step, I knew where I wanted to be. I wanted to be at Carroll School. I wanted to be among the team of educators who work to empower students with dyslexia as I know firsthand what a difference that can make.

Ben Shepard: I learned that Carroll was starting to focus on remediating underlying cognitive weaknesses in the Foundational Cognitive program. Soon after Dr. Falke arrived at Carroll and I could not pass up the opportunity to help research and develop these approaches.

Carol Spooner: When my son, Ben, went off to high school I applied to the GIFTT program. I loved every moment of learning Orton-Gillingham. I was constantly making materials to use in tutoring. My goal was to be a part time tutor, which I was hired to do. A week later part time turned into full time. 

Kelly Henry: At a Carroll parents' meeting, Steve showed some slides that illustrated the results of cognitive training on reading fluency and I was intrigued. I started learning more about TCI and all the data that Carroll has and things moved forward from there. I began working 12 hours a week, then 20, and now Carroll's increasing dedication to being data-informed keeps me busy full-time.

What have you learned about Carroll that you didn't know before you worked here?

Josh Mulready: That Carroll is made up of teaching professionals that are willing to go over and above to help each child. It is an incredibly special place.

Erin Hanley: The thing that stands out most to me is the transparency. When I first started working at Carroll, I wondered if my experience as a parent would be very different from my experience as an employee. I can honestly say that, other than seeing firsthand the amount of time, thoughtfulness and energy that goes into every decision and plan, the Carroll that I know as a parent isn't different than what I've learned as an employee. Parents are a vital part of the team and that is something everyone truly believes in.

Zoe Norcross: Teachers can take extra Carroll School pickles if there are leftovers at the end of Fall Festival... delicious.

Nicole Jones: I knew the teachers were dedicated to their students, but I did not realize the true extent of that before joining the staff. The teachers who work here are truly inspiring.

Glens Colman: In my role as Director of Curriculum/Assistant Division Head, I have learned just how much work goes into the organization and prep of the academic program. EVERYTHING is customized for each child.

Stacey Daniels: The unbelievable commitment of the educators. 

Katie Smith: Being a Carroll parent, you watch your child grow, gain back their confidence, and become their true self. I always believed that the Carroll community was devoted to the students, but I have been so inspired to witness firsthand just how devoted they are to every single student. Carroll teachers and staff care about the whole child, not just academics. Our kids are so fortunate.

Heather Ahern: I am always impressed and inspired by the thoughtfulness and care with which the people at Carroll approach every decision. I might have assumed this before working here, but I am certain of it now.

What has been the most rewarding part of your new Carroll experience?

Michael Copacino: It means a lot to students when they find out that I am dyslexic and went to Carroll. I love seeing their reactions when they realize the connection and the mutual understanding.

Nicole Jones: Working in such small groups with the students, and working with a student population who is so eager to learn.

Ben Shepard: Helping students improve weaknesses that in the past we thought could not move - this has helped students get unstuck and access more of the Carroll curriculum being taught by teachers. In addition, it has been incredibly rewarding to help teachers, parents and admins understand their students (using data) on such a detailed level. On a more personal level working as colleagues with teachers and mentors I had at Carroll when I was a student and having them see the value I add to our community is something I am proud of.

Glens Colman: Helping families find the right educational match for their student's learning profile.

Stacey Daniels: At Carroll there is a small "win" each day. A beautiful moment with a child, parent or an educator. 

Katie Smith: Being part of such a dynamic, smart, and kind community has filled a hole in my life that I didn't even know existed.

Kelly Henry: Carroll School was a major turning-point for my daughter. Our family is a living example of the "if not for Carroll" slogan. I am so grateful to everyone that helped her during her time here, and my motivation comes from being able to play a role in making it easier for teachers to help other students in the same way.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Josh Mulready: Teaching as a full time Multis teacher in the middle school.

Michael Copacino: Given it has been such a hard and strange last six months, I am looking forward to giving my students as much stability and joy as I can. 

Zoe Norcross: I am looking forward to collaborating with my pod and figuring out different ways to engage students in our virtual classroom.

Ben Shepard: I am excited to further our TCI approach at Carroll by developing our own content (exercises) as well as to continue to improve our TCI practice particularly in a remote setting.

Carol Spooner: Every year there are so many things I look forward to doing with my students. By far my most favorite is doing book projects! I am really looking forward to continuing that tradition of doing books projects with my BR/2 students.

Heather Ahern: I look forward to getting to know each of my new students and establishing a relationship so that I can support them in their learning. I am also really looking forward to a time when we can be on campus more with other pods so that I can reconnect with some students from last year.

Mary McNulty: I am looking forward to discovering the “silver linings” as we all find new and creative ways to make the school year a remarkable and memorable one.

In a word or phrase, how does it feel to be back at Carroll?

Josh Mulready: Rewarding

Erin Hanley: I feel like I am exactly where I'm meant to be.

Michael Copacino: Caring

Zoe Norcross: Like coming home

Nicole Jones: Cautiously Optimistic

Ben Shepard: Being back at Carroll is exciting, empowering but perhaps more importantly feels like home.

Glens Colman: It feels like going home.

Stacey Daniels: Terrific!

Katie Smith: Joyful

Carol Spooner: Home

Heather Ahern: Refreshing

Kelly Henry: Hopeful

Mary McNulty: It feels like family

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