The One and Only Mr. Carroll

Legendary 8th grade English teacher Mr. Carroll will leave the Hilltop at the end of this school year, but his imprint will always remain.


Samantha Bauer '23, Staff Writer

Everyone knows Mr. Carroll as the intelligent and comical English teacher who ends every class by saying, “Have a sparkling day.” After decades of teaching, Mr. Carroll will be leaving St. Luke’s at the end of this school year. Though future 8th grade students will never experience Mr. Carroll’s unique teaching style, his legacy will live on through the students who have become better writers under his guidance and accomplished incredible achievements after leaving his class. 

Mr. Carroll started his teaching career at St. Luke’s in the 1980s. He taught for eight years in the Upper School before teaching at a public school in Massachusetts. He then returned in 2009, and he has been teaching the 8th grade for 12 years. Throughout his time at St. Luke’s, Mr. Carroll has taught a variety of English courses, ranging from Middle School classes to AP-level classes. “I really enjoyed the range of classes that I used to teach [at St. Luke’s],” commented Mr. Carroll. 

Though it is not part of the 8th grade curriculum, Mr. Carroll revealed that his favorite book to teach was The Great Gatsby because of the valuable lessons the novel has to offer. 

“It is so rich in imagery and characterization, all the elements that we try to teach as English teachers,” Mr. Carroll said. “It’s also really relatable for students, so that mix just makes it a joy to share with students.” 

Though Mr. Carroll has taught many different grades and English classes at St. Luke’s, he explained that teaching the 8th grade is special because he is able to help students prepare for the transition to the Upper School.  

“I feel like I’m in a unique position to help them prepare for what they are headed for,” he said. “That’s the way I looked at it when I first came back, and I still look at it that way. That’s really the heart of what I am trying to do.”

Mr. Carroll shared that his most interesting story from St. Luke’s took place this year when Ms. Veneruso told him they were giving achievement awards to some alumni and one of them was Marcus Smalls, a student of his from the 80’s. 

“He said, when [Ms. Veneruso] talked to him, that I was a big influence on him. I had no idea about this, that I had praised his writing and really encouraged him, and he ended up being a writer and an artist and he gave a lot of credit to me.” 

Mr. Carroll explained that he felt lucky to watch a previous student of his win an award for his spectacular accomplishments. 

“For one thing, this was a really touching way to end my time at St. Luke’s, and Ms. Veneruso was nice enough to ask me to attend the ceremony and to introduce Marcus [Smalls],” Mr. Carroll said. “It was just so… intriguing to see he’s now almost a fifty-year-old man, and I knew him as a high school student and taught him in at least a couple of classes.”

Mr. Carroll emphasized that it was “a good reminder that teachers can have an effect that they never even realize,” which is one of the most special parts of the St. Luke’s community. 

As for the notorious 8th grade Declamations, Mr. Carroll shared the following about its significance: “I have been so pleased to participate in the Declamation process, where students have the opportunity to hone their writing abilities for a larger audience and to practice public speaking, a skill that will serve them throughout their lives. I am always proud of the victories that the students achieve with their presentations, and this year is especially notable, as the speakers had additional obstacles to surmount, particularly wearing masks. As usual, the speeches were spectacular.” 

When asked about his favorite part about working at St. Luke’s, he said, “It’s clearly the people.” Mr. Carroll expressed his admiration for the St. Luke’s community by saying, “I like the collegiality of the faculty and staff. I am always amazed at how well we work together, how flexible folks are, and willing to chip in and accommodate each other as well as [solve problems] for the benefit of the students.” 

Mr. Carroll explained that he joined with fellow faculty members to implement a new grading system, highlighting the passion the faculty members have for the students’ education. The process of creating a better grading system has helped Mr. Carroll find inspiration from his co-workers. He was impressed by everyone’s commitment to forming a more attentive environment for students. 

“I think just the fact that I’m leaving in a month or so, and I’m still dedicated to helping to do this, says a lot about the people I am working with,” shared Mr. Carroll. “The inspiration I’ve gotten from working with them, as to how I can help my students more and provide them with clearer and better assessments of their work to improve their skills,  . . . [has] been heartening,” he said. 

Throughout his time at St. Luke’s, Mr. Carroll has engaged with the community in multiple ways. He coached many different sports teams, including varsity tennis, but his most amusing coaching story was from 5th and 6th grade girls’ soccer. He said, “In our first game, the ref blew the whistle for half time and the team came running off the field and one of the players ran over to me and said, ‘how many halves are there?’” 

Everyone knows that Mr. Carroll ends each class with “have a sparkling day,” and he has finally revealed how he created the infamous quote. 

“I’ve always liked the word sparkling,” he said. “I guess I need to give some credit here to Mr. Bisson. He used to end his classes by saying, ‘Make it golden,’…I came up with my own version of that.” “When I say ‘have a sparkling day,’ [the students know that] class is over.” 

For the students who are entering the Upper School next year, Mr. Carroll offered some advice for the unknown future: “Open your minds. With open-mindedness, the learning becomes easier and much richer. There are so many opportunities in the Upper School, … and if you go in without blinders on, there’s just an amazing range of possibilities.” 

After leaving St. Luke’s, Mr. Carroll plans to return to his first profession as a migrant farm worker. He shared this with pure enthusiasm and explained that he is looking forward to working on organic farms and traveling in the process.

From Declamations to To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Carroll single-handedly helps students make the literary transition from Middle School writers to Upper School writers, and the students that have had him as an English teacher certainly will never forget him. While we will miss him on the Hilltop, one thing is certain: the future of organic farming just got some sparkle.