An Interview with Dr. Carter: Reflecting on her First Year on the Hilltop


Lucie Geist '25, Staff Writer

This year has been an outstanding one on the Hilltop, regarding the unity of our community, the spreading of joy, and the implementation of new traditions. Our new head of school Dr. Carter has made these important shifts possible with her work ethic, values, and spirit. I had the pleasure of reflecting with Dr. Carter on her first year at SLS; she spoke about everything from the incredible achievements she has made to her ambitious goals for the future. 

Dr. Carter explained that her priority this year was “engaging with the community and really listening, and asking questions, and learning about what the St. Luke’s community means to people.” She has met with 88% of the school’s faculty and staff since her start here to get to know the community and its values. 

Another goal she met this year was working on the master facilities plan of the school. By meeting with trustees, faculty, parents, and an architecture firm, she has worked hard to gain insights that will help her plan out the future of SLS in an attainable and organized fashion. Dr. Carter explains, “What we’re trying to do is solve current problems and also envision, ‘What are the spaces we need to take the experience to the next level, for the next two decades?’ When you have that master plan in place, rather than going project to project, you place things wisely.” 

For the future, Dr. Carter’s central hope is to bring “a way of thinking to the school where we focus on the portrait of a graduate and we think and plan backward from that, thinking how do we deliver the fabulous mission of the school to every single graduate – not some, but everyone? What skills and experiences would students have to have going back through the grades – going back to 5th grade, across all the disciplines? What would they need to experience and what kinds of skills would need to be developed in order for everyone to fulfill the school mission?”  

Through these questions, Dr. Carter has planned new initiatives such as a program for 8th graders and new students entering the Upper school called the Compass Program. The Compass Program will help students to become aware of their specific interests and skills, and give them somewhere to start amidst the tons of opportunities in high school. Additionally, there will be an on-and-off campus leadership program which helps students to learn about their own leadership style and skills–knowledge that they will use throughout their lives. 

Dr. Carter is also hoping for St. Luke’s to emerge in applied technology, which is at the center of our student lives. She feels that understanding the different facets of computer science, such as AI, is incredibly important to us as students, but also to our future careers. To prepare us, Dr. Carter believes that “technology is an area that needs to be akin to a core subject” at St. Luke’s. 

With all of her success at SLS thus far, Dr. Carter has faced some challenges along the way. She describes her biggest obstacle as managing the tragedies which St. Luke’s has faced over the recent years. She explains that amongst the sadness and suffering brought by the pandemic and other events, “there is this incredible need to bring joy back, to bring childhood back.” She believes that however challenging a day may be, it is a life skill to be able to find joy and laughter within it. Her greatest challenge has been navigating the sadness at St. Luke’s and bringing back vibrance and happiness in a respectful way. Through events such as Head’s Holiday, or appointing her golden retriever Hefty as a welcoming greeter each morning, Dr. Carter has definitely brought joy to our school. 

Finally, Dr. Carter has learned much more about herself and SLS through her first year here. She was the Head of School at the Derryfield School in New Hampshire for nine years before coming to St. Luke’s. Even with all of her experience, she did not expect “how rejuvenating it would be to be in a new place.” She explained how many aspects of her new headship are similar to her previous, but also how “it is exciting to see how a new, terrific school does things in a different way.” 

Regarding the school, Dr. Carter has learned that, like the faculty and staff, SLS families are well aligned with the mission. She has learned that “the families really get that this is where you send your child if you believe that there are more important things than simply achievement. That becoming a caring, compassionate, service-oriented leader is as important as academic credentials. That has been a wonderful confirmation.”

Dr. Carter has certainly had a terrific first year of headship at St. Luke’s; she has learned about herself, emphasized the school mission for all students, planned efficiently for the future, engaged with our community, and brought back a surplus of joy. As our first female head of school, Dr. Carter is setting a blazing path for the future of St. Luke’s that we are all excited to watch for the years to come.