It’s hard for us to imagine our teachers’ lives before they entered the classroom. The idea of them actually doing something other than grading papers is something we often choose not to ponder on, which makes Kate Carney’s passion for dance even more surprising.
Although this English teacher has put her tutu in the closet, there was a time when Carney’s entire life revolved around dance.
“When I was three, I watched the New York City Ballet perform, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” Carney said.
Carney danced for 16 years, from the age of 4 to 20. In the beginning, there were no classes offered to someone so young, so Carney danced with 7 year olds.
“I was dancing every day,” Carney said. “I spent about 15-20 hours a week [in the studio].”
However, her dancing career was cut short when high school ended.
“I was good, but not good enough,” Carney said.
Along with dance, reading has always been a passion of Carney’s. Books were her childhood. Her parents instilled a love of reading in her from a young age.
“I’ve always been surrounded by books,” Carney said.
Carney has always been a firm believer of the idea “the more you read, the more you know.”
“I love to get lost in books,” Carney said.
However, Carney was no reading prodigy in the beginning. In fact, she could not read at all until more than halfway through first grade. Everyone thought that she was “dumb” but the problem wasn’t that she didn’t understand, but that she couldn’t see.
“I was in the stupid group; I knew I was in the stupid group,” Carney said. “And it was very frustrating.”
No one, not even Carney herself, knew that she couldn’t see until she got an eye checkup.
Though the glasses were annoying, Carney loved the new world it brought into sight.
“I loved that I could be a part of the same world as my parents and family,” Carney said. “I had always wanted to be a part of that ‘club.’”
Carney’s rocky start was apparently not hereditary, seeing as her daughter Deirdre shot out the of the gate running.
Deirdre is Carney’s pride and joy; she was a brainiac since day one.
In middle school in math class, one girl had told the teacher, “If Deirdre doesn’t get it, how could we?”
Yes, she was THAT girl.
Now Deirdre is grown up and going to college at Harvard Law, and just like her mother, has become an intelligent woman.
Deirdre is at one of the top colleges in the nation, and Carney is cramming her knowledge into the brains of a bunch of unruly high school students.
“At NS, everyone has a place here,” Carney said. “Whatever you like, it’s here.”
Although Carney has enjoyed her time here at NS, not all the memories here have been fond ones. Being a high school teacher doesn’t come without its rough patches; putting a bunch of angsty teenagers in one building can, unsurprisingly, make some good stories.
One example happened when two senior boys fought over a desk. We all know how annoying it is when someone steals your unofficial seat. One senior in particular, though, reacted less than gracefully when such case happened to him.
“He yanked him out of his desk, threw him against the cabinets and started to choke him,” Carney said.
Carney being about average height determined that she herself could not break up the fight, so she called in the now-retired science teacher Ed Staker for help. Staker managed to drag the two boys by their collars to the office.
Then there was the incident with the firecrackers when a student decided it was a good idea to set off some firecrackers in the middle of Carney’s teaching to liven things up.
“He wasn’t even suspended,” Carney said. “He was back the next day.”
Being a teacher means that not every student is going to love you. However, one student was once especially angry at Carney, to the point of throwing scissors. . . at her face.
For the most part, though, the students at NS have enjoyed Carney and her class.
“She is very understanding, especially when you are sucky at life,” sophomore Lucy Quinn said.
Students enjoy her unique teaching style and excitement for the subject.
“In Mrs. Carney’s class, you are put in an environment unlike any other,” sophomore River Dillman said. “[You are put in] an environment in which learning is a right, not an obligation.”
Carney loves watching her pupils grow as well.
“As much as seniors frustrate me, I love to see them grow up,” Carney said.
While Carney’s 25 years in the classroom have been anything but smooth sailing, overall, her experience at NS has been a positive one.