New book sheds light on ups and downs of NYC schools
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Sep 17, 2015 | 13740 views | 0 0 comments | 1102 1102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marilyn Carroll knows a thing or two about the New York City Public School system. After all, she has worked in the system for over 30 years.

Recently, the former teacher and guidance counselor published a book, ’The Lives I’ve Touched,' recounting her experiences, from stories of terrifying situations to forming important bonds with her students.

Carroll, who has lived in Flushing for over 35 years, has taught everywhere from Queens to Brooklyn to the Bronx.

After attending New York University and Queens College, she taught high school for 15 years before becoming an elementary and junior high school guidance counselor. Towards the end of her career, she served as a college counselor for high school students.

“My parents always thought teaching was a wonderful profession because you have the opportunity to make a difference in a young person’s life,” Carroll said. “When I was younger, I never played nurse or anything, I always wanted to teach."

While working in the Bronx, an assistant principal approached her to become a guidance counselor because of her ability to connect with students, many who were facing tough situations at home, such as dealing with poverty and tough neighborhoods.

There were times throughout her career where teaching was absolutely dangerous. Carroll recalled teaching at a Brooklyn school where students were so angry that they’d break into the teacher’s cafeteria when it was empty. The students then proceeded to throw chairs out of the cafeteria's windows to damage cars.

At another school, in an effort to de-stress, the swimming teacher would open the pool up to teachers after a strenuous day’s work.

Still, intimidating schools didn’t stop Carroll from trying to make a difference. Along with other staff members, she was able to form a "caring group" that bridged the communication between administrators and the parents over the well-being of their children.

She was also able to form a theater club for staff members, attending a Broadway show once a month. Carroll made sure to include students by getting a $1,000 donation from an acquaintance in order to take 30 kids to see “Wicked.”

“I chose the kids by the most needy,” she said. “I had kids whose house burned down in a fire or young children whose mother had died from cancer.”

Additionally, she'd get the students and their families discounted tickets to Shea Stadium.

“It was a joy to be able to take them to see shows or a baseball game where many of them had never been to,” she said.

Although she has been retired for nine years, Carroll still follows where education is heading, and supports the idea of moving away from the idea of teaching simply to pass standardized tests.

“At a high-performing elementary school, I once had to take a girl, about 10 years old, for a walk outside around the school property because she was hyperventilating and getting so nervous for the test,” Carroll said. “I had to tell her that this doesn’t determine what you’re going to do in the rest of your life. It’s just a test.”

She suggested that students should be able to be involved in education that they enjoy, adding “if you want people to love knowledge and education, then you need to have people in the system who love to learn themselves and who have knowledge that they can share and inspire."

“If you think back to who are your best teachers, those are the people who got you to read and be interested in other things beyond the classroom,” she said. “It’s most likely not going to be the one who got you to have the highest score of the standardized test.”
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