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Patching Some Tires and Paving the Way in Special Education: Meet Marina Sorrell '17

May 19, 2021
By Carroll High School
Carroll High School alumnus Marina Sorrell graduated from the University Dayton as a licensed intervention specialist

On May 9, Marina Sorrell ‘17 received her diploma from the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton, where she majored in Intervention Specialty, or the education of neurodiverse students. Leading up to this significant moment, she has had many opportunities to both reflect upon her time as a student at Carroll and to plan on how she will utilize the tools her teachers gave her to now teach in her own classroom as a licensed Pre-K through 12th grade Intervention Specialist. 

Marina graduated Cum Laude, and The UD Department of Education and the Dean’s office selected her as the recipient of the Raymond and Beulah Horn Award of Excellence out of all the Intervention Specialists in her cohort for excellence in her subject area. In addition to this highly prestigious award, she also received other awards in excellence in Intervention Specialty from the university.

Marina has had many influential experiences leading up to her choice to become an Intervention Specialist; however, growing up as a sibling of a neurodiverse learner could be considered one of the most significant experiences that has prepared Marina for her future career. Her younger brother, Woody, was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. Marina, who was seven at the time, had not heard of the term, let alone had any idea what that meant for Woody and his future learning experiences. However, she remembers when his diagnosis finally made sense to her. In a conversation with her parents, a very young Marina compared Woody’s brain to a popped bicycle tire. “It’s not like the bike doesn’t work,” Marina said, “but it’s harder to pedal, so we have to help him inflate his tire. That’s the analogy I always think of (now) when I’m teaching.”

Marina Sorrell '17 after graduating from the University of Dayton, with her brother Woody and father Chris '83.

Marina grew up watching Woody’s team of family, therapists, adults, and educators work together to fill his tires, and she was by his side to celebrate the tiny yet monumental breakthroughs he achieved on his journey to success. Watching her brother's progress and development made a significant impact on Marina, and it inspired her desire to help children on similar learning paths. 

From early on in her life, Sorrell knew that she wanted to go into the education field in some way as well. Even her 4th and 5th grade teachers at Mother Brunner School would discuss it with Marina’s parents and encourage that path for their daughter. “Every grade level I got to, I thought, ‘I could teach this grade! This would be fun!’” recalled Sorrell. It would take many years later, upon a hike with her mother, where she would realize that Intervention Specialty could be a good fit for her. An Intervention Specialist’s license would allow her to work with students pedaling their bicycles in ways similar to Woody. An additional endorsement would also allow Marina the freedom and flexibility to work with a diverse group of students in all grade levels and various subjects.

“Carroll is more than just this school on Linden Avenue. The Carroll support got me through college and got me there.”

-Marina Sorrell '17

Marina credits Carroll as being the place where she solidified her desire to become a teacher during the most formative years of her life. “I owe a lot to Carroll. I liked the subjects I was in, and I liked how my teachers went about teaching,” said Marina, “They were really great models for what it’s really like to enjoy your teaching job.” She remembers her English teachers in particular having so much fun, and those memories inspired her to make learning fun for her future students.

Carroll Social Studies Mr. Chris Sorrell ‘83, Marina’s father, mentioned to her that when she took Mrs. Jill Kilby’s AP Psychology class, it was the first time that he saw his daughter becoming a student- one who wanted to dive deeper into the material, even beyond what was being covered in class. Marina credits Mrs. Kilby, as well as her teachers at Carroll, for igniting that desire to be a lifelong learner and to become a teacher herself.  “All of the teachers at Carroll are great examples of great teachers.” Marina learned from teachers, like Mrs. Marcy (Hemmert) Hughes ‘83 and Mrs. Mary Ollier, who showed Marina what it means to teach the whole student rather than just presenting the classroom content.

When it came time to apply for college, the application process for Marina looked like it does for most high school seniors, daunting. Thankfully, Marina felt comfortable being vulnerable and reaching out to her beloved teachers for help when the time came to apply. They came to her aid, reading over application essays and helping her prepare materials for submission. During the application process, her teachers at Carroll linked Sorrell to professors at the University of Dayton who are connected to the Carroll family in various ways that could help her discern both her major and her overall decision to attend the University of Dayton. “(Carroll is) more than just this school on Linden Avenue. The Carroll support got me through college and got me there,” Marina recalled.

Upon entering UD her freshman year, Marina felt more than prepared for the rigorous coursework that comes at the university level. Having taken scholarship courses during her time at Carroll, including College Credit Plus coursework as an upperclassman, Sorrell not only had experience in college-level demands, but she also had acquired college credits prior to her arrival on UD’s campus. One of the more challenging courses for freshman education majors, Physics, ended up being less of an obstacle than expected, as she had taken two years worth of physics at Carroll. Marina even ended up being the go-to classmate on her residence hall floor to proofread papers for the UD course, as Marina knew the formatting so well from her Carroll days. After taking the course at UD, Marina returned to Carroll, sought out Physics teacher, Mrs. Laurie Fuhr, and told her that she would not have passed without her. 

At the University of Dayton, Marina did more than simply pass her coursework. She earned one of the top scores among her classmates on her edTPA, a performance-based Ohio licensure test. The university has also frequently asked her to speak to incoming and current undergraduate students who are entering the education field about her experiences in the School of Education.

Now, Marina is ready to help other neurodiverse students inflate their own bicycle tires and find success on their own learning journeys. She is currently applying for teaching positions in the greater Dayton and Cincinnati areas, and she is so excited to be in a classroom of her own. “I can’t wait to meet my future students, and I can’t wait to learn about them and grow with them,” she gushed, “I don’t know where I’ll be teaching, but I’m so excited to be there, wherever it is.” 

Posted in Familiar Voices
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Sorting through Tax Season: Meet Miriam Cleary '11

April 15, 2021
By Carroll High School
Miriam Cleary '11 Client Specialist at Baird

Miriam Cleary ‘11 is a Client Specialist at Baird to two financial advisors on a wealth management team in Cincinnati.  She recently spoke with us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way she works and how Carroll prepared her for success after high school.

What are some of your responsibilities on a typical day?

“I am in charge of client interactions, facilitating transactions when people need money or talk about distributions from different accounts and trades.  I’m also working on my certified financial planner license.  I do all the planning for our team for a realm of possibilities for our clients.  My day-to-day is making sure our clients have the best experience possible, especially during tax season, because it can get really complicated with all the forms and different days they’re due.  It’s really nice to have those relationships with my clients established before I have to talk to them about what they actually have to pay for their taxes.”

When does tax season start, and how does it affect what you do?

“We provide the forms for the accounts if there is interest paid or retail accounts where there are distributions from qualified accounts.  We started issuing tax forms at the beginning of February because people are always anxious to get their tax forms in.  Usually, things really start to speed up in mid-March.  Because a lot of people do their taxes online or because of the pandemic, they just email everything to their tax person.  It’s much easier than having to worry about when we’re going to get them in the mail.  After April 15, we go back to our day-to-day business like client meetings.”

How has the pandemic changed how you work?

“Our clients are used to meeting with us once, maybe twice a year.  Having to transition from face-to-face meetings in our office to being either on Zoom or on a conference call.  That interaction with us, especially with our older clients, is very important, and it’s very important to us as well because we want to keep that relationship established.  I now have an office set up in my home.  [Baird] has been great about getting all of us access and keeping the internet and network up to speed, but we can’t print [financial documents] at home because of the confidentiality, so getting those things to clients has been a challenge. 

Our clients can’t go out of their homes as much as they could, so we’ve talked to people more and more.  That’s been helpful to me because I’ve been able to re-establish some relationships and talk to people about things other than their investments.”

How did Carroll help prepare you for college and career?

“I graduated from college with a degree in foreign language and international studies and a minor in anthropology, and I work in finance.  People don’t understand how that happened, and sometimes, I’m not sure either.  Carroll made us work hard.  I’m glad I was constantly challenged either Mrs. [Mary Jane] Clark, or Mr. [Jim] Hemmert; all the challenges they threw at us and the sense of responsibility they instilled in us to succeed and help others.  When I got to college, I already knew how to study because of Study Skills my freshman year.  I knew it would be harder, and I had to learn to rededicate my time because the level and amount of work was different, but Carroll made it much easier for me because I was much more established in my study habits.  I already knew what I needed to do, and that transformed into a better experience altogether.  My parents thought it was the most important thing for us to get that education because they knew that it would set us up down the line, and it has.”

What is your advice to current students?

“Remember what you do enjoy about your job, even if it’s something that you may not think you would ever get into, you can try to find something good about having that career.  Be open to those dynamics and understanding that you may not always be right, but that’s how you grow as a person.  Carroll taught me that, and it was expounded on when I got to college.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Intersections of Art and Physics Flourish at CWRU

March 24, 2021
By Case Western Reserve University
Ryan Buechele '17 at Case Western Reserve University

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the Case Western Reserve University website.  Please click here to read the entire story.

What do music theory and statistical mechanics have to do with each other? The connection may not seem obvious, but it’s exactly what Ryan Buechele is studying in his senior project.  “I love seeing ways where the tools of physics can be applied to solve problems in other fields like biology, economics, and, of course, music theory,” he says. A CWRU senior pursuing both a B.S. in physics and mathematics and a B.A. in music, Buechele is working with Associate Professor Jesse Berezovsky on a project combining the tools of statistical mechanics and music theory.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Wired for Innovation: Connecting one of Dayton's oldest buildings to a brighter future

March 08, 2021
By Carroll High School
Alek Mezera '04, Dave Mezera '81, and Natalie Mezera '14 of DataYard at the Dayton Arcade Innovation Hub.  Photo by @tayloredsocial/Taylor Hudson Snead

Whenever Alek Mezera ‘04 would drive past the Dayton Arcade in the heart of downtown, he usually thought about the stories from the complex’s glory years that had come and gone before he was even old enough to attend kindergarten.  26 years after the arcade effectively closed to the public, he stepped foot in the vacant, deteriorating building as he prepared to help lead the modernization of one of the oldest and most notable facilities in the region.

Dayton Arcade
The Dayton Arcade as seen from West Third Street

“That was an awe-inspiring visit, just being able to see the scale, first and foremost, of all the buildings involved in the arcade development, but also the potential and history,” Mezera said.  “There’s so many old signs and photographs and pieces of Dayton nostalgia you would see around every corner that were really cool.”

As the Director of Client Partnerships at DataYard, an Information Technology provider founded by Alek’s father Dave ‘81 in the mid 90s, Alek helped DataYard earn the rights to be the sole IT provider for the Arcade Innovation Hub, a joint venture between the University of Dayton and the Entrepreneurs’ Center that occupies more than two thirds of the first two phases of the Arcade renovation project’s master plan.  All office space, classrooms, and retail shops on the upper levels of the checkerboard-floored rotunda are connected to the internet through DataYard.  While plenty of typical renovation work, like replacing windows and walls, were needed to breathe life back into the nearly 120-year-old set of five buildings that comprise the Arcade, DataYard had the unique challenge of not only building the first network, but also concealing all of its infrastructure to comply with historical guidelines.

“For any rehab/reuse project happening downtown, there are a lot of tax incentives involved with taking something old and making it new.  In order to do that, there are a hundred different aesthetic guidelines you have to work through.  As far as IT and historic tax credits are concerned, it has to look like it isn’t there.  We had a challenge in adequately hiding the infrastructure behind the scenes in a way that still achieved all of our goals.  We ran miles of rigid steel conduit which has all been painted to blend in and match the brick ceiling and exposed brick walls.  Some of it is hidden in drop ceilings and wrapped around corners.  It was a challenge but ultimately produced the most aesthetically appealing stroll down memory lane.”

Mezera estimates that the Arcade now holds $1.5 million dollars worth of network equipment, including 100 wireless access points, 20,000 feet of steel conduit, and 142,000 feet of ethernet cable, which is enough to stretch from Carroll High School to the Dayton Arcade six times.  At its peak, the network can serve approximately 700 individuals using up to four devices each.  Mezera says the Arcade project is the biggest and most complex in DataYard’s history.  It is also one of the most meaningful.

DataYard Director of Client Partnerships Alek Mezera '04, Founder and Principal Dave Mezera '81, and Client Partnerships Project Manager Natalie Mezera '14 in a conference room at the Innovation Hub in the Dayton Arcade.  The table in this conference room is a repurposed door upcycled from the University of Dayton's Chapel rennovation project. Photo by Taylor Hudson Snead/@Taylored Social.

“One of the things that everybody has as an intrinsic need is the ability to see the fruits of their labors,” Mezera says.  “Unfortunately, our grandparents and great-grandparents built all the churches and all the bridges and those large scale, masonry types of projects where you have a cornerstone with a date on it and get a romantic, emotional feeling when you think about your contribution to a specific project.  We don’t have a lot of those projects going on at the moment and haven’t in quite some time.  To be a part of a rehab/reuse project of a complex of this physical scale brought its own romantic draw for those reasons, something you can drive past and look at and know that your contributions have directly impacted the success of the project, and more importantly, the advancement of the region and our neighbors.”

In an ever-changing field like IT, DataYard relies not only on its teams’ up-to-date technical knowledge of designing and installing networks, but also on their ability to adapt quickly and think critically while working together.  Even though Mezera grew up with computers, the skills Mezera learned during his days at Carroll prepared him to play a major role in the Arcade project.

Learning how to learn was a big part of what I’ve taken from Carroll, my family, and other places.  Extracurriculars really stuck some life lessons and habits in my spirit.  Working with a team, wanting and needing to produce the absolute best work that I possibly could, and feeling a sense of pride in my work and achievements.

Alek Mezera '04, DataYard Director of Client Partnerships

“I did enjoy those computer classes with Mrs. [Diane McNelly] Keller ‘83 back in 2003, and those gave me an opportunity to practice and develop outside the home.  Beyond that, learning how to learn was a big part of what I’ve taken from Carroll, my family, and other places.  Extracurriculars really stuck some life lessons and habits in my spirit.  Working with a team, wanting and needing to produce the absolute best work that I possibly could, and feeling a sense of pride in my work and achievements.  Whether you’re playing basketball or in the marching band or whatever it is, if you’re with a group of people, and you have a goal and something you have to work hard to achieve and you do it together, I learned early on that it was one of the most rewarding experiences.”

Mezera sees the rebirth of the Arcade as DataYard’s role on a team that lays the groundwork for the next generation of Dayton entrepreneurs to succeed.  

“You get a sense of pride and feeling of an ownership stake in the city,” Mezera says.  “We’ve poured so much blood and treasure into trying to make something better for ourselves and neighbors, and to see it come to fruition, watch other people utilize those services to take themselves to the next level and advance the success of their business, and watch people interact in the space on a human level is incredibly rewarding.  The space has so much energy, promise, and potential that it certainly is a much-needed boost to civic pride.”

DataYard provides Dayton's best IT services and technology consulting including solutions for Cloud hosting, cyber security, disaster recovery, IT management, and more.  To learn more about DataYard, contact Alek Mezera at (937) 610-3525 or email

Posted in Familiar Voices

The Elusive "10"

February 05, 2021
By John Sullivan '75
Sr. Mary Alice Stein

“Sister Mary Alice is short.”  

While that sentence may be politically incorrect, it is concise, descriptive, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.  And that sums up most of what I learned in Sister Mary Alice’s journalism class.

Sister Mary Alice Stein, known affectionately by her initials as “SMAS” (but never addressed by that name) provided my best training as a writer during my junior year in high school.  All of our articles had to be typed on an 8x10 sheet of paper folded in half; we typed on one side; she then unfolded the paper and wrote her comments on the other side in red ink.  She graded on a scale of 1 to 10, and she was proud that she’d given only one “10” in her entire career, always reminding us the young woman who received it became a reporter, justifying her perfect grade.  I wanted to be the second person to score a perfect “10”.

My first attempts were met with a sea of red ink regarding style (lack of), grammar (incorrect), and a general absence of enthusiasm about the entire piece.  I went to work dressing up my leads, inverting my pyramids, and rewriting things several times before submitting them.

Desperate to show progress, I once wrestled with a sentence to get my point across and ensure it was grammatically correct.  When I was confident it met both goals, I submitted my piece.  When she returned it, I had once again failed to get a “10”, and the sentence I struggled with was indeed correct but marked in red pen as “awkward.” My face turned red with embarrassment, matching the editing marks.

Sister Mary Alice was always kind and restrained when explaining her edits.  She had a way of engaging students that was cordial and entertaining but left no doubt that she was in charge.  I took her advice to heart, and over time, my writing and grades improved to the 9.0 level with an occasional 9.5 or higher.  I was honored to be named one of the editors my senior year.

My first job after college had me reading memos and reviewing resumes, and misspelled words and mangled sentences ruled the day.  Technological advances not only increased the garbled writing, it made messages longer.  Word processors and email increased the length of messages, allowing writers to use more words to say less since there was no longer a piece of paper edging out of the typewriter to suggest it might be time to stop.

This unlimited length wasted a lot of time and money in deciphering the original sender’s meaning and intent, resulting in an electronic snowstorm of “reply all” messages.  It spawned the acronym “BLUF”, (Bottom Line Up Front), but it failed to get writers to state a point early — or sometimes ever.

I was already placing the most critical information at the top, just as Sister Mary Alice taught me.  It paid off handsomely.

I never did get the “10” I wanted.  During my career, I have published a number of articles as a freelancer, have gotten paid for my writing, and have also been able to get donations, jobs, and compensation for complaints (mostly from airlines) from my ability to write well.  That’s worth a lot more than a “10.”

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Dr. Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05, one of the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine

December 18, 2020
By Carroll High School
Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05 receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Dr. Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05 is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital and was one of the first people in the State of Ohio to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, December 16, 2020.  She works in the medical intensive care unit as the primary provider for critically ill patients on life support, including patients on ventilators who have respiratory failure.  Lisa has been part of the primary COVID unit since the outbreak of the pandemic.

How did the pandemic change your responsibilities?

We’re trained to provide the specialized care that these patients need.  They wouldn’t be able to survive without the ventilators and the highly trained nursing staff that take care of them.  They’ve been sicker than any other patients that we’ve had.  They’re sicker than a regular flu patient.  Their respiratory failure is much worse, and it requires a lot more specialized care that can only be provided in the intensive care unit.

Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05 in full PPE treats COVID-19 patients at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center ICU.
Lisa (Wahlrab) Walsh '05, dressed in full Personal Protective
Equipment, treats COVID-19 patients at The Ohio State
University Wexner Medical Center ICU.

What has been the biggest challenge of treating patients?

The biggest challenge through all this has been the need for the hospital to limit visitors and not let families be there to see their loved ones.  It’s not just COVID patients.  The hospital hasn’t allowed visitors for other patients.  There have been exceptions made for patients who are actively dying. It’s been really hard to communicate with families.  We try to do it over the phone or on FaceTime, but it’s just not the same as having family there in person to support their loved ones.

When did you find out you would receive a vaccine?

Rumors started at the beginning of December that in mid-December, vaccines would be available at Ohio State.  Since we are part of the group on the front line taking care of COVID patients, they told us we would be in the first group to get the vaccine.

What went through your mind when you found out you would be one of the first people to receive the vaccine?

I was pretty excited.  I think everyone I work with has been excited because we’ve been looking for an end to all this.  The work has been exhausting, and we’re always overflowed with patients who have been sicker than our other ICU patients.  Everyone is wearing down, so to have a vaccine available and know that we are top priority so we can stay healthy to take care of the sick people.  Hopefully soon, it will be available to the public so that we have less patients so that our work can go back to normal.  I think everyone on my team is excited and anxious to get the vaccine.  We understand that even though this is a new virus and a new vaccine, the vaccine technology itself has been around for a long time.  Everyone feels safe and confident to get the vaccine.

What are some of the lessons you learned at Carroll that have helped you navigate this situation?

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a nurse and help people.  A sense of giving back, doing good, and helping others is something really was instilled in me at Carroll through volunteer work.  Just wanting to be a productive member of society and somebody who is trained and available to help others is the biggest thing that my Catholic education at Carroll instilled in me.

What should people know about staying healthy as the vaccine becomes more widely available?

I would impress on people the importance of social distancing and wearing masks for hopefully just a few more months.  Hopefully, this is the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s still important to avoid getting sick and getting others sick because it has been terrible in the hospitals with how sick these patients are.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Sarah (Sidell) Seagraves '09

November 20, 2020
By Carroll High School
Sarah (Sidell) Seagraves '09, 67b Bookkeeping

As a small business owner, Sarah (Sidell) Seagraves '09 knows the challenges her clients have faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  Her bookkeeping service, 67b Bookkeeping, has been a crucial element in helping her customers keep their doors open.

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

I own 67b Bookkeeping business, and I specialize in helping entrepreneurs in the marketing and creative industries learn, figure out, and manage their business finances. Day-to-day, I’m working with companies to either manage their books for them, or I do consulting and teach entrepreneurs how to keep their books and finances organized so that they can better understand their financial position.

How did you assist your small businesses clients with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application process during the coronavirus pandemic? 

When the coronavirus happened, and all of the PPP (information) came out, I have had to learn it as quickly as it happens and be super flexible because it’s Congress, and things are going to change.

It was so beneficial that I had clients set up and ready to go with all of their financial information organized and ready. All of my clients that I had been working with prior to the pandemic received PPP loans.

Sarah Sidell 67b Bookkeeping

What does it mean to you as a small business owner to be able to provide this service and help people keep their livelihoods?

It’s incredibly important to me!  When you shop at a small store, or you order from a small, mom-and-pop shop or local business, that is supporting their livelihoods, and that can affect whether or not they can buy groceries at the end of the week.

I love Target and Starbucks as much as the next girl, but I have renewed my energy of going to the small, local coffee shop and buying as much as I can from smaller, local, family-owned businesses because now, being a small business owner myself, I understand how critical one or two sales can be to someone.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you give back to Dayton entrepreneurs? 

Often, entrepreneurs may not have been given the resources or lessons on what you can do to help your neighbor like we did at Carroll. Being in an environment where Catholic Social Teaching was so instilled and part of every day at Carroll definitely has impacted my business. 

I’ve given presentations to the Dayton Entrepreneurs Center’s Fast Track program for Dayton entrepreneurs on the basics of bookkeeping, how to manage your finances and keep records, and use all of that data and information to really analyze your business. So, being able to give my time and really help local Dayton entrepreneurs figure out how to manage their business is awesome. 

For readers interested in starting a business in the Dayton area, what other resources are available?

There are definitely resources for people that want to start a business, are thinking about branching out on their own, are expanding on a hobby, or want to have a good, solid foundation and education (for bookkeeping). There are resources from the Dayton Entrepreneurs Center, Launch Dayton, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations.

Most of these resources are free or very inexpensive, and they have programs that are built and were created to help the Dayton Community to grow and to give back.

Sarah Sidell Seagraves 67b Bookkeeping

Business owners and those interested in learning how to manage their books can contact Sarah to book a discovery call and get a personalized quote at 67b Bookkeeping.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Fostering Service: Meet Morgan King '17

August 26, 2020
By Carroll High School
Morgan King '17 and her foster dog, Passion.  Morgan participates in 4 Paws for Ability's service dog foster college program through the University of Cincinnati.

Morgan King '17 has had dogs in her life since her family brought home their pup Xavier when she was 10 years old.  As a senior at the University of Cincinnati, Morgan is balancing her education and training as an occupational therapist with fostering service dogs through 4 Paws for Ability's college program.  We spoke with Morgan about her involvement with the program and how her love of dogs extends to other parts of her life.

What is the mission of 4 Paws for Ability?

4 Paws for Ability was founded as an organization to place service dogs with children, but it has expanded to help veterans with PTSD.  The founder tried to get a service dog when she was younger, but her condition was deemed too severe by multiple organizations.  Their mission is that no disability is too severe, no person is too old or too young, for us to provide a service dog.

What are your responsibilities as a foster in the program?

I participated in orientation, training, and on-site work at 4 Paws for Ability with the dogs.  Then I was placed with my foster for about year.  Most dogs are placed around eight weeks old and can be placed as old as two or three years.

I work with dogs on basic obedience, socializing them in public, making sure they aren’t scared of anything, and love all people.  I also encourage people to ask to pet the dogs because the dogs are so young, so I want to make sure they’re friendly with all ages and types of people. Once this is over, I return the dog to 4 Paws for Ability for advanced task training.

Morgan King '17 and a foster dog from 4 Paws for Ability.
Morgan King '17 and one of her foster dog from 4 Paws for Ability.
How did you learn about the program?

I heard about it through [Andrea Poole ‘17] and some other friends from Wright State.  I looked up 4 Paws for Ability and realized it’s close to my home in Xenia.  I decided to be a puppy sitter at first because I wasn’t ready for my own dog yet.  I did the same orientation as a foster would to learn about the expectations and work with the dogs.  I joined the club at the University of Cincinnati where I would watch the full time sitters’ dogs for a few hours a day.  I did that for a few months and then got my first foster, Passion.

What are the challenges of raising a foster dog as a full-time college student?

It’s not something that is for everyone.  You’re given an eight-week-old puppy along with taking 18 credit hours of classes.  It’s stressful, but for the people who are good at managing their time, it’s manageable.  The biggest challenge was public awareness, though.  Most people aren’t as educated on the topic of service dogs as I am.  People in public can distract the dog from their training.  Other people stare and try to figure out why I have a service dog.  From the school aspect, there are times when it is overwhelming.  If the dog is sick, I have to drive from Cincinnati to Xenia and back in the middle of the week to take care of the dog.  Giving the dog back is another big struggle.  It’s hard to give up a dog you’ve been with for a year to a random person, but the process of watching the dog be placed with a family and change a kid’s life is worth it.

What are the rewarding parts of this program?

I study occupational therapy, and I’ve always been pulled to the special needs and pediatric side of things.  The club intertwined with me being in school for O.T. to see all the different types of disabilities and how the organization places service dogs, what they teach the dogs, and how it changes the kids’ lives.  It was also a great starting point for me at UC as a transfer student.  I made so many new friends and performed so many service hours.

The biggest reward is seeing the end goal; whether it’s seeing the dog become a service dog or one who doesn’t quite make it as a service dog become a client companion as an in-home dog for a family.  From an academic and professional aspect, it’s also a great thing for my resumé, especially as I prepare for grad school.  It’s a great conversation starter to introduce people to the program because we’re always in need of fosters and sitters.

How did Carroll help prepare you for this?

Leadership and responsibility are definitely two things that I took with me from Carroll.  I was involved with clubs, sports, and outside events.  Taking on those roles helped give me the courage to join an organization like this and start my own business.  Not being afraid to get out there and do something outside my comfort zone is something I took with me.

Morgan’s family adopted her most recent foster, Adler in June.  She also runs her own small business, Morgan's Creations, that makes and sells custom bandanas, collars, and accessories for dogs.  Morgan plans to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in Spring 2021 and begin Occupational Therapy school.

Posted in Familiar Voices
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Meet Dr. Stephen Blatt, MD '77

May 15, 2020
By Carroll High School
Dr. Stephen Blatt, MD, TriHealth

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

I'm the Medical Director for Infectious Diseases at TriHealth hospital system in Cincinnati.  I’m responsible for setting the policy for management of patients with infection problems.  In this setting, we have a large steering committee for our COVID-19 preparations and management, and I help run that.

What are the daily tasks you perform?

We monitor the data about how many cases we are seeing.  We monitor how those patients are doing, what their outcomes are, how many are discharged, if we have any patients that die from the infection.  We also monitor the infections among our healthcare workers to make sure that they’re not getting infections from our patients.  We monitor the protective equipment that’s available to make sure we have adequate supplies.  We monitor our testing capability to make sure that we’re able to provide testing for both our patients and any employees that need it.  Then, we basically troubleshoot to make sure the whole system is working properly, that patients and employees are protected and getting the treatment that they need.  We also work with our research department to try to get clinical trials of medications, experimental medications that are available for our patients that need them.  I also see the patients. Some of the patients that are sicker, we get consulted on to help with their care.

How has the pandemic changed your job responsibilities?

It’s the same kinds of things that I was doing, but obviously it wasn’t COVID-19 that we were worried about.  It was more common things like antibiotic resistant bacteria or other infections that people can catch in a hospital.  We spend a lot of time trying to prevent those kind of infections.

Why is your work considered essential?

It’s very important that we provide the best care we can for patients who have this novel virus and protect our health care workers who are at risk of getting it and deserve to be protected.  If the health care workers can’t stay healthy during this time, then we won’t be able to provide care for any of the patients who come in.

What precautions are you taking to ensure coronavirus safety?

We’re a lot more careful about making sure we have the right equipment and wear it correctly.  Around all the patients who we know or suspect might have COVID-19, the healthcare workers all wear gowns, gloves, face shields, and special kinds of masks called respirators that we have to have each worker fit-tested for so that they wear them correctly and we know that they’re not breathing air that hasn’t gone through the filter.  That takes a lot of time and is a pretty expensive proposition that came out of nowhere.

What makes coronavirus different that more typical infectious diseases?

It is highly contagious, and it is a lot more dangerous than the flu.  The number of deaths is far exceeding what we would expect in a typical flu season, and it’s really been compressed within a very short timeframe here in the United States.  There have been 70,000 deaths in a two month period which is at least three or four times what we would see in a typical flu season.  It’s a lot more dangerous because nobody has any immunity to it, that’s the problem.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation?

Carroll was really essential at learning to look at the whole picture of a problem, analyze it, and come up with a rational approach to dealing with it.  One of my mentors was Mr. Joe Sens who taught chemistry at the time.  He was just great at being calm, evaluating an issue, and coming up with rational solutions.  There’s been a lot of panic around this whole COVID-19 issue that really doesn’t need to be.  It’s just a matter of understanding it as best we can and applying rational solutions. 

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Tina Kinstedt '12

May 03, 2020
By Carroll High School
Tina Kinstedt '12

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

I'm a volunteer with MedSupplyDrive.  It’s a nationwide, student-run effort to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hospitals.  It started at Georgetown University by third year medical students on March 18 and has grown to include more than 650 volunteers in over 40 states.  So far in Dayton, we have given gloves, alcohol pad, shoe covers, and isopropyl alcohol to several hospitals.

What are the daily tasks you perform?

A lot of days, I send emails as often as I can.  Some times, I’ll go to different stores and find gloves or alcohol that we can donate.  A lot of it is waiting from responses from hospitals or individuals.  We also pick up and deliver donations that we receive.

Why is your work considered essential?

If hospitals run out of any of this equipment, they’re unable to help patients properly.  As much as we can give them, it helps them do their jobs.  They’re the real heroes here, but we want to do something that allows us to be helpful.

Tina Kinstedt '12 (left center) delivers Personal Protective Equipment to an area hospital.


What precautions are you taking to ensure coronavirus safety?

We’re required to wear PPE when we donate.  We talk to the hospitals beforehand, so we know exactly where to go, and we talk to people who are making donations so that we’re not coming in contact with too many people, just doing what we can to minimize contact.  I encourage everyone to stay healthy and safe.  Minimize exposure to others as best as possible. Follow the advised cleanliness guidelines recommended by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.  Also, try to stay optimistic.  I know it is difficult now during this time of crisis, but we just have to remember that things will get better and life will go back to normal in time.  We are all in this together, and together we will overcome.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation professionally and personally?

Academically, Carroll was an incredible school for me to go to.  It really prepared me for [undergraduate studies] at Miami University and Wright State’s graduate program, and I’m really thankful for that education.  In terms of volunteering, Carroll pushed me to volunteer in the beginning.  I first started with Habitat for Humanity my junior year.  Since then, I’ve still been in contact with Habitat for Humanity and help them.  I wouldn’t have been able to do that except for that fact that Carroll opened up that opportunity for me.

How can someone get involved with MedSupply Drive?

You go on the website, become a volunteer, and you’re assigned to a regional manager.  We email different institutions like universities, stores, high schools asking for donations.  Then we figure out what hospital we can donate to and drive the donations to them.  I’m pretty sure all the people in this are just volunteers.  None of us are actual health care professionals yet.  There are a lot of volunteers who are in medical school or pre-med, but you don’t have to be either of those to volunteer.  You can also donate PPE or cash.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Major Matt Sturgeon '89

April 17, 2020
By Carroll High School
Riverside Police Department Major Matt Sturgeon '89

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

My biggest responsibility is overseeing the operations of everybody assigned to the Riverside Police Department road patrol. 

What are the daily tasks you perform.

To cover the day, we have two, twelve-hour shifts.  My direct link to the 22 patrol guys are my four sergeants.  I monitor them, and they monitor the patrol guys. I’m not actually out on patrol unless needed. If there is a critical incident, I respond.  On a day-to-day basis, it’s a lot of policy revision, and I split grant writing duties with the other major. There’s also a lot of use of force reviews, pursuit reviews, and any felony reports I review after the sergeants. 

Why is your work considered essential?

At a time when we’re dealing with COVID-19, but also in general, police are often referred to as “The Thin Blue Line”.  We’re a nation, state, city, and county of laws.  No matter what, we provide support to people who can’t take care of themselves. There are still people who victims of crime and medical emergencies. Even during a pandemic, nothing stops.  We prepare our operations for how we’re going to respond to [particular cases], how are we going to patrol, how are we going to keep our guys protected, how we’re going to support our fire department.

Riverside Police Department

What precautions are you taking to ensure coronavirus safety?

With coronavirus, [criminal] activity has dropped greatly, and we’ve rolled into Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and Emergency Command Center.  Those have been up and running since early March.  As this whole thing has unfolded, we’ve done it in stages with a blend of what the Centers for Disease Control has been sending us through update portals that go directly to police departments and other services we subscribe to.  We’ve also been monitoring what’s going on globally, within the country, and most importantly to us, what’s going on within the state of Ohio. Initially, all we drew down our response to different types of calls and instead doing everything we can over the telephone.  This has become vital for us to lean on our dispatchers.  They’re screening calls to see if it can be conducted over a telephone call.  That has allowed us to dramatically decrease the in-person response.  When it all kicked off, we started social distancing and pulled all of [the City of Riverside’s] Personal Protection Equipment out of storage and took count between us and the fire department to determine how much we have and how long we can go on with it.  The mayor also declared an emergency which gives us the ability to supersede contracts to give us more flexibility with our staff.  Our guys are wearing N-95 masks and gloves when they respond to calls. When we’re arresting somebody, we put them into a surgical mask, and they’re evaluated at the Montgomery County Jail for COVID-19 screening.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation professionally and personally?

The biggest thing is the quality and level of education that I was able to receive at Carroll, and part of it is faith-based.  You understand that you have to be prepared. Going through Carroll, the University of Dayton, the police academy, and 25 years of working in law enforcement prepared me for the moment; it isn’t too big.  It gives you a chance to think critically. The worst thing you could do is just react without sitting down, planning, and thinking about the consequences of which direction you’re going to go. Dealing with my job in general, it’s always easier when you have a strong faith to fall back on.  You see the worst in people, and it’s easy to get cynical about why things are happening. My faith has allowed me to realize always that there are way more good people in the world than bad.

Editors' Note: During the coronavirus pandemic, we are featuring alumni who work in essential fields to learn more about how social distancing and other changes are affecting their critical professions.  Please contact Director of Communications Michael Franz '05 if you know an alumni with an essential job who would like to share their story with the Carroll community.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet A.J. Williams '03

April 10, 2020
By Carroll High School
AJ Williams '03
Greene County Clerk of Courts AJ Williams '03
AJ Williams swears in a deputy clerk.

Meet AJ Williams '03, Greene County Clerk of Courts

What are your job responsibilities and duties?

The Clerk of Courts is the keeper of the records for the Greene County Court of Common Pleas and all automobile title transfers, swears in all trial jurors, and reads the verdict in criminal trials.

What are the daily tasks that your office performs?

We make sure that filings reach the courts and judges on time.  We also receive orders from the judges to issue warrants from our office, and we get it to the police department so they can make arrests.

Why is your work considered essential?

The Supreme Court of the State of Ohio ruled that all Common Pleas Courts are essential and are to remain open, so we didn’t need to make a decision.  It was pretty helpful for us to have that decision from the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Maureen O’ Connor. The main tag line they used in the ruling is that we need to continue to provide citizens access to justice.  For dealings with the clerks, that includes someone who is filing for a civil protection order or someone who is trying to pay a fine from a criminal case. We need to provide [those services] to our citizens. We can’t just shut that down and say, “I understand you need a civil protection order, but we can’t file it right now,” and hope for the best.

What precautions are you taking to ensure you’re not spreading the coronavirus?

Our volume of work has gone down tremendously, so we’ve gone to half staff.  Half of our staff works one week, and the next staff comes in the next week. We’ve done that for three weeks now.  We’ve had the luxury of not needing to have everyone in the office and allowing people to stay home for a week. We have a thermometer scan every day, and no one’s had a fever.  We also have drop boxes outside the courthouse and have a lot of phone calls every day to keep people outside the courthouse for their safety and our safety.

What are the lessons you learned at Carroll High School that are helping you navigate this situation professionally and personally?

Going through St. Helen School, Carroll High School, and the University of Dayton, I learned that it’s always about service.  All the lessons I learned through my Catholic upbringing and family is service above self, and it always has been. There was never a time when I thought we need to close this down, but we need to find a way to serve the public no matter what.  Some of the staff was afraid to come in, and my stance was for them to stay home, feel safe, and not worry about their jobs, but I’ve been in every day at both offices. I’ve been at the title office alone because I need to provide that service.  I learned it at St. Helen, it was reinforced at Carroll, and it was reinforced at UD. Through my Catholic education, service has been instilled in me, and that’s the only way to operate.

Editors' Note: During the coronavirus pandemic, we are featuring alumni who work in essential fields to learn more about how social distancing and other changes are affecting their critical professions.  Please contact Director of Communications Michael Franz '05 if you know an alumni with an essential job who would like to share their story with the Carroll community.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99

October 22, 2019
By Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99
Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99

My name is Lori Hallmark, and I am an assurance partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). My current role there primarily includes serving as an audit partner in our Private Company Services team in the Cincinnati office. In addition to my day to day role as an audit partner, I am also a part of the national team that helps determine the audit methodology, tools, and technology used by more than 2,000 team members nationally in our Private Company Services practice.

Climbing the ladder at PwC

I joined PwC after graduating from the University of Dayton (UD). Since joining PwC, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to serve in a number of different roles within the Firm. I started my time as a tax associate but quickly learned that completing tax returns was not for me! I watched the audit staff spend their time with clients every day, learning about how businesses work and getting to know people within the organization. I quickly knew that I wasn’t meant to be hanging out in the office every day and that working directly with clients to help them meet their business objectives was something that would really resonate with me. As I spent more time in the audit practice, I came to really enjoy working particularly with private company clients and understanding how the auditing standards could be applied differently in our audit work. This led to a number of different roles from consulting with teams on the application of auditing standards all the way to spending 18 months in our Tampa, Fla., office with a global team helping to rewrite the manual that PwC uses to conduct its audits.

Foundational Catholic education

Fortunately, my time at both UD and Carroll High School really prepared me to take on challenging assignments and provided me with the basis I needed to be successful. While I didn’t take any business classes in my time at Carroll, I did take plenty of challenging courses that taught me what it meant to be a life long learner. These courses taught me not just about text book learning, but how to apply that learning in the real world. Whether it was Science Fair or Youth in Government, being able to work in teams in an experiential way provided me with a strong basis for how I operate in the business world today. More important than anything I learned in specific course work though are the lessons I learned about the kind of person I wanted to be. Carroll provided me with one of my first significant opportunities to experience the joy of providing service to others. Through Action Appalachia, I worked with my classmates collecting donations of clothing to take to those who needed it. As we loaded the semi and prepared for the trip, I looked forward to spending time with my friends on what I expected to be a fun trip. I didn’t realize that the truly rewarding part of this would be seeing the real value of making a difference in someone else’s life.

Lori (Marshall) Hallmark and Emma Mihlbachler
Lori (Marshall) Hallmark '99 and Emma Mihlbachler '18 at the Class of 2018 Baccalaureate and Graduation.


Continuing a Carroll legacy

All of these lessons have been instrumental to me as an individual, but I saw Carroll from an entirely new light as the parent of a student. I thought that I knew how important Carroll had been in influencing my development in a positive way – enough that it was extremely important to me as a parent for my daughter to experience the same benefits. Experiencing the impact of the school and community from a parent’s perspective was truly amazing. Because my daughter Emma Mihlbachler '18 was involved in completely different aspects of the Carroll community as part of the music program, I was able to see a whole new side of what Carroll has to offer. I was also able to experience again the value of providing service to others as the food mom for the band. These years were absolutely some of the best I have spent, perhaps even better than when I was there as a student! Seeing the absolutely tireless effort that the parents, administration, band directors, and other members of the Carroll community put into the students from a parent's perspective really confirmed everything that I had experienced as a student and more. Now watching her as a successful college student in the nursing program at Case Western Reserve University, I am even more amazed at what a Carroll High School education provides its students.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Carroll High School taught me that it's okay to fail

September 12, 2019
By Marilyn (Rupp) Cox '98
Marilyn (Rupp) Cox '98

I promise this isn’t a click-bait headline. This is my attempt not to bury the lead. You see, I fail every single day. From my freshman year at Carroll High School (and definitely before) and through more than 20 years since leaving (and definitely in the future), my life has consisted of a series of micro-failures, and there was a time I feared that failure.

There’s very little I’m afraid of. Heights don’t bother me. I think spiders get a bad rap. I’m more comfortable flying on a plane than I am driving to the grocery store. Slasher films, zombies, running alone through Chicago – they all provide an adrenaline rush. But after I graduated from Carroll High School, I was afraid of failure. Was I ready? Could I succeed? Will I remember the definition of ‘health’ (Yes, Mrs. Lane, I remember it’s ‘optimal personal fitness for full, fruitful, creative and spiritual living)? These same concerns have tagged along with me as I’ve worked as a marketing turn-around expert for technology and media/entertainment companies.
But my ability to embrace, learn from, and build on my failures are a result of my time at Carroll.


Fail together, in public, with confidence

If you were in English class with Miss Wourms or a Latin class with Sister Mary Alice Stein, you can probably recall the repeated rework of diagramming sentences or conjugating Latin verbs. I can remember the frustrations of Calculus and trying to follow along with Shakespeare but what stands out the most were the teachers who encouraged us to own our failures while learning these concepts. We shared them as a class, discussed the challenges, and then broke down why they occurred so we could build on those learnings. This taught me throughout my career how to develop an environment that reinforces resiliency, risk-taking, perseverance, and adaptation. I learned how to focus on solutions instead of blame and how to respond to failure.


Fail fast, and incrementally, in order to create

In business we preach, “fail and fail fast” or “create an environment where employees have the freedom to fail”. Even if the company culture truly supports that, failure doesn’t happen often. Companies hire experienced employees who have proven success in their field. Failure is rare. However, when you’re in school and learning, almost everything you first attempt fails. I believe this is why so many professionals become averse to learning. At Carroll, I failed over and over and over and over again. In my academics, athletics, and social structure, I was pushed so incredibly far outside of my comfort zone. I learned to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that has served me well. It has taught me that micro-failures are necessary if I’m going to continue to learn and develop.

Fail free of judgment

While at Carroll, I was surrounded by teachers and coaches that encouraged authenticity. I was taught the importance of transparency, compassion, commitment, ethics, and setting the tone. I was never fearful – well, except when walking to the lunch room and my shirttail was untucked. These teachings have allowed me to foster a culture in my teams that embraces failure, free of fear. By developing a culture of authenticity, I’ve found that I can improve manager-employee relations, respond to change, and set goals. And when you fail free of judgment, you can begin to replace blame with curiosity. Relationships are better and more interesting when working together and building. It’s too easy just to fight, but relationships with tension and conflict make life interesting because not all tension and conflict is bad. Competing and differing ideas are great things.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend the better part of seventeen years working for innovative companies and iconic brands like The Second City and Oracle. I’ve worked with immense talents that push the level of creativity and challenges common convention. I’ve also learned to view everyone as a person with a special story to tell, to foster talent, and to teach. All of these learnings and all of my success can absolutely be attributed to my time at Carroll High School. But the most important lesson is to follow the fear and do what scares me the most. Carroll has taught me that if it’s uncomfortable, do it more.

Posted in Familiar Voices

Meet Michael Franz '05

August 23, 2019
By Michael Franz '05
Michael Franz '05

My name is Michael Franz, and I have been Carroll High School’s Director of Communications since September 2015. My role at Carroll boils down to this: tell the story of Carroll High School. I accomplish this through writing profiles, shooting pictures, producing videos, designing ads, and guiding our communications strategy and resources that ultimately appear in digital, broadcast, and print media.

After graduating from Carroll, I attended the University of Tampa in Florida to major in communications with an emphasis on writing and journalism. The years I spent in Florida brought many personal and educational blessings in my life. I dreamed of being the next great American sports broadcaster and was fortunate enough to gain professional experience while pursuing my degree. I’ll always remember my days as an intern at the area’s largest sports talk radio station (WHBO AM 1040) and the Tampa Bay area’s NBC affiliate. Tampa Bay hosted the Super Bowl during my final semester in spring 2009. Helping with our coverage leading up to the game is one of the highlights of my professional career. I was even able to earn a paycheck covering high school sports for the Tampa Tribune while finishing my degree.

My first journalism job after graduation was working as an assignment editor back home in Dayton at WHIO-TV in November 2009. I learned so much from so many great people, especially long time Sports Director Mike Hartsock who gave me the opportunity to cover sports in Dayton. I covered countless high school games and athletes, Ohio State football, and Dayton Flyers basketball, including following the team to Buffalo, New York, and Memphis, Tennessee on their Elite Eight run in 2014.

During my time as a student at Carroll, the idea of one day coming home as a staff member appealed to me even before graduating in 2005. Unfortunately, working as a teacher was something that I thought did not fit my skill set, and the position I have now did not exist at the time, so I did not spend much time throughout college and my early career thinking about how I could return to Carroll. When I saw a Facebook post on Carroll’s page in August 2015 seeking applicants for the new position of Director of Communications, I heard a voice in my heart telling me that this opportunity was made for me.

While the early part of my career prepared me for my current role at Carroll, my time as a student will always be the most formative years of my life. Coming from a school that did not send many students to Carroll, I quickly learned how crucial communication with strangers would be to my future success. The five-sentence outline structure I learned from Miss Downie (now Mrs. Clark) in freshman Honors English gave me the tools I needed to efficiently conceptualize and write not just papers and essays for college, but also many projects working as a journalist and communications manager. Walking the school’s halls and interacting with current students on a daily basis shows me that today’s faculty and staff are still instilling those same values and lessons in current students, and continuing that Patriot legacy is one of the greatest joys in my life.

Posted in Familiar Voices

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