Giving Matters

The Impact of the Carroll Annual Fund

December 2021

In This Issue
  • A Community Where Giving Really Does Matter by Dr. Renée Greenfield
  • Annual Fund Results
  • Why Is Annual Fund Participation Important?
  • Pedagogy: The Science of Teaching - An Interview with Alissa Benway
Giving Matters Issues

A Community Where Giving Really Does Matter

By: Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School
Renee Greenfield, Head of Carroll School
All of us that work at Carroll are dedicated to things that matter. Our students and their potential, their families, the field of LBLD, and one another. And, in order to really engage in this work, we know that Giving Matters.

Over the last six months through my Listening and Learning Tour, I have been able to hear from hundreds of people from the Carroll Community. Without exaggeration, I can say that every single listening session included an unwavering commitment to Carroll and passion for what we do. For me, there is a clear correlation between this commitment and all the ways the community supports the School. It’s a community where giving really does matter.

Many current and past parents share that prior to coming to Carroll their children felt stupid, lacked confidence, brimmed with embarrassment, and in some cases, these stressors negatively impacted their families. With regard to these feelings, one past parent commented, “All [those feelings are] gone now - he’s happy and confident … it is SUCH a pleasure to be around him as parents and to see him so much more content with himself.” This transformation in students is something I heard about over and over in these sessions.

Overwhelmingly, parents report their children learn to better understand themselves as learners and then are able to self-advocate for what they need. This cycle then feeds their child’s self-confidence. Beyond our academic excellence, we are supporting students and families to heal, self-advocate for themselves, and interact with the world with significantly more self-confidence.

As Carroll’s new Head of School, it is so valuable to lead from a position of financial strength, knowing that this community is deeply committed to ensuring the future of this extraordinary school. As we head into 2022, I am thrilled to report that the School’s endowment has grown from $24 million to $36 million, we are supporting 25% of our families through financial assistance, and we do not carry any debt. I see this as an extension of former Head, Steve Wilkins’, Health Check from May 2021. We continue with our healthy financial prognosis.

When I reflect back on my time as a teacher at Carroll in the early 2000s, I think about how much Carroll has grown. We certainly educate more students across three campuses, but from my perspective, we have additionally grown in other profound ways. 

  • We engage in cutting-edge, sustained professional development for our educators, responding to the neuroscience not yet available in the early 2000s.
  • We are research-to-practice leaders in the field of language based learning differences (LBLDs), elevating the culture around neuroplasticity and education.
  • We actively engage in giving each child (GEC) what they most need, with more interventions possible than 20 years ago.
  • We are even more deeply committed to our mission, both to educate students with dyslexia to become “strong self-advocates and lifelong learners,” and our more explicit commitment to inclusivity by “embracing diverse strengths, identities, and lived experiences.” 

To me, the growth in the last 20 years is what makes Carroll School the best place to educate students with LBLDs through the lens of social justice. We were only able to grow in these ways because of the impact of many in the Carroll community through their giving and volunteering -- as Trustees, Ambassadors, Parents Association members, families, educators, and researchers. Each voice, perspective, gift of time, and gift of financial resources has made a significant impact on Carroll. 

All of us that work at Carroll are dedicated to things that matter. Our students and their potential, their families, the field of LBLD, and one another. And, in order to really engage in this work, we know that Giving Matters

In the coming months, informed by my Listening and Learning Tour, work on campus planning, and strategic priorities, Carroll School leaders and the Trustees will create a vision for Carroll as we grow into our next phase. While some things at Carroll have grown, expanded, and shifted, there is one thing that remains constant: Carroll School changes lives. I felt this in the early 2000s, and bear witness to it again, day in and day out. Carroll is positioned to continue to change lives. With the continued partnership of donors and volunteers, the future holds so many possibilities.

Annual Fund Results

July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021

Each year, the Annual Fund provides 5-6% of Carroll’s revenue. It is an important element of supporting the school’s day to day operations as well as maintaining Carroll’s ability to attract and retain highly trained faculty and staff.

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Carroll Annual Fund 2020-21 Total Donations Chart

An extraordinary measure of the long-term impact of a Carroll education can be seen in the number of alumni parents who continue to show their gratitude for their child’s experience through their support of the Annual Fund long after their child has graduated. Last year 230 of our donors were alumni parents.

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Carroll Annual Fund 2020-21 Donors by Amount Chart

Last year parents, grandparents, alumni parents, alumni, and friends all gave to the Annual Fund and participated in supporting the school with gifts of every size. With 580 donors, the Annual Fund successfully raised $1.44M, contributing 5.9% of overall revenue.

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Last year, tuition covered 87% of the school’s expenses. Over two-thirds of the expenses were for faculty and staff salaries and benefits. As our most important resource, this demonstrates Carroll’s commitment to our faculty and our low student to teacher ratio which are critical factors in the success of our students.

Why Is Annual Fund Participation Important?

The Annual Fund is one of four revenue streams that support the school’s annual budget. Tuition is the largest revenue stream, yet it does not completely cover the costs of educating students at Carroll. On a per student basis, in FY22 there are $6,600 of additional expenses beyond what tuition covers. The other two revenue streams – endowment and other programs – provide a combined 7.1% towards the budget.

The Annual Fund supports 5-6% of the yearly budget of the school.  With nearly twice as many educators as other private schools and nearly five times as many as public schools, over 76% of the school’s expenses are dedicated towards educator salaries and benefits.This means that Carroll does a LOT with a small amount of the budget being dedicated towards supporting facilities and programs.

Participation is needed not only to ensure that Carroll meets its’ budgeted Annual Fund goal, but it is also an important factor in gift giving decisions made by foundations as well as large donors.  In a community, it is important for all members to support the School with a gift that is meaningful to them to encourage Carroll’s continued growth, health, and impact on the wider dyslexia community.

We are immensely grateful for the impact that each and every donor last year had on Carroll.  Thank you for your continued commitment to give each child what they most need and for your belief that Carroll truly unlocks the potential for each of our students to be lifelong learners.

What does it mean to have teachers that teach in the way you learn best?

My experience here has been amazing. I was a terrible student before, and now I would say, I'm better than I ever thought I would be. I know that I am capable of getting good grades on tests regularly. Before, I felt that I was just going to fail every test I put my name on. Here, I feel like I have gained skills and strategies to help me do well, exceed my own expectations, and be open to opportunities.

-Lauryn Muller, 8th Grade Student


Pedagogy: The Science of Teaching

An interview with Alissa Benway

Middle School Assistant Division Head

The Hall Copacino Institute of Professional Study courses were created to help identify and train teachers for the different aspects that make a successful teacher at Carroll. All educators take part in professional study each year and over their time as educators, they take all five courses:

  1. Orton-Gillingham
  2. The Whole Child
  3. Data-informed Instruction
  4. Pedagogy - the science of teaching
  5. Technology for teaching

Our teaching philosophy and the way we approach student learning all stems from the Orton-Gillingham principles. These are ways to help our students become engaged and build strategies and resilience by developing their skill set to tackle learning. Being diagnostic and prescriptive means that educators not only figure out what gaps in skills or knowledge students may have, but model connections as they develop their lessons, so students can improve their skills in explicit and encouraging ways.

One professional study course, The Whole Child, focuses on social emotional learning and its connection to academic proficiency. This is the root of “Give Each Child” what they most need. What are the social/emotional needs of the student, and how does an educator teach in a way that addresses the social/emotional needs of our students? We train educators to think about how students and educators speak to each other, how to encourage students, how to redirect students when they need to be redirected, in a way that's successful. Additionally, educators are trained on how to help a student recognize where they are in their learning and navigate their anxiety around a certain task.

Another Carroll Course, Data-informed Instruction, goes into everything that we do at Carroll. Teaching with data-informed metrics is not just being diagnostic and prescriptive every day, but looking at the student's trajectory over time. Identifying where the highs and lows are, where the bumps are, what we need to do differently in a class or over the course of a year to improve outcomes for a student.

The Pedagogy course teaches educators how to be successful with our students. Educators come to Carroll from a variety of school backgrounds - public, private, and other language-based learning schools - and while they are talented professionals, at Carroll we teach in a specific way that we know benefits our students. This year the Pedagogy course, in addition to developing an approach for teaching in a systematic way using consistent language to convey specific skills, is also targeting incorporating interdisciplinary work on units and topics in English Language Arts and History as well as Math and Science. Educators are exploring ways to create collaborative curriculum that gives students a more interdisciplinary experience.

The people that come to teach at Carroll are highly motivated. They come to work here because they know they can really hone in on essential teaching skills and change the trajectory of their students. One skill in particular that Carroll educators develop is to learn how to help students become more independent in their learning skills. 

We have an approach that reflects this supportive passage from dependence to independence in the way we grade students. Students are specifically graded on skills in each class to reflect how much support they need. That's something we've really worked with students on being aware of, so they themselves are aware of how independent or dependent they are in their capacity to acquire knowledge in a certain subject. That's not something that you get anywhere else – that the students really see this progression of where their skills are based on reading level, or math levels, what concepts and critical thinking they're learning, and how much support they need. This provides a real time sense of what the student understands, and is able to produce in an independent way.

Being more aware of their learning, being more metacognitive, our students can transfer these strategies to other classes. They become more confident in guiding their own learning.  Most of our students report when they leave Carroll that they are more confident than a lot of their other classmates who haven't gone to a school like Carroll. They have the skills and strategies because of the way that educators have been modeling – thinking and talking out loud about their learning – and the students begin to do these things independently.

We are fortunate to have a community of educators who are very passionate about education. We always want to do better and improve what we're doing. That drive for improvement comes with the need for a lot of training. On Friday afternoons as well as at other points during the week, we have time to focus on our professional development, collaborate with other educators, and review where we are with the progress of our students. We are grateful for the support of our Professional Development program and how it helps us give each child what they most need to become successful lifelong learners.