This spring, Carmen Beaton retired after serving Middlesex for 28-years in both the Dean of Students’ Office and the Spanish Department. At commencement, Head of School Kathy Giles reflected on Mrs. Beaton’s immeasurable impact on the School:
Carmen’s twenty-eight years at Middlesex have made the same kind of mark on the School that the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and caused the Ice Age made – except in reverse. Carmen came to Middlesex in 1988 and after teaching for some time in public school settings. She already knew that she loved the high school classroom and the teenagers in it. She joined the Dean of Students’ Office in 1991, and a whole raft of programs has come to life under her leadership, all based on the dynamic power of the student-teacher relationship, all energized by her ability to galvanize students and faculty alike in meaningful conversation about topics at the heart of adolescence, all focused on the emotional, physical, and social well-being of our students.Her sayings have become our mantras – and I suspect that the best piece of advice our graduates will remember is Carmen’s “make good choices” admonition, the not-so-playful chant we offer each other at key moments, advice that is ageless and universally applicable in its wisdom. That we hear Carmen’s voice in our heads is but more proof that the truth she speaks is the truth we need.
Carmen’s warmth, generosity of spirit, energy, humor, stamina, intelligence, commitment, confidence, and essential optimism are, simply put, extraordinary. She invests the full quality of her attention in the person before her, whether that is a student in hot water or a struggling parent or a colleague at wit’s end. She listens. She empathizes. She remembers what it’s like to be a teenager, a parent, a teacher. She lets students know that while their in-the-moment happiness is important, their growth towards their promise as people is more important – “fake it ‘til you make it,” she advises us during those tough moments, and more often than not, we find that making it is easier than we thought it would be.
Carmen is in it for the long run and knows that adolescence is indeed just the entry point to adult life – in fact, one of her most famous sayings is, “I feel sorry for you if you peak in high school.” She understands mistakes and is quick to see past them. She lets her judgment be affected by her knowledge and deep understanding of people, not just teenagers. Carmen brings the years of her wonderful marriage to Jim, her parenting of Andrew and Emily, her myriad professional experiences and relationships, and her brilliant acumen as an educator to her work, every day, as we all live and work together here. Carmen’s intuition about people is uncanny, and it always seeks out the best. She speaks from her heart, if not from her soul, and what comes out is unmitigated kindness, even when the news isn’t good. She’s so good at what she does because she loves her work and, more importantly, she loves us, and we know it because she tells us. It’s been a gift, to co-opt another of Carmen’s signature phrases, a gift for all of us to grow up with Carmen or grow old with Carmen, as I suspect she is muttering under her breath right now. Either way, it has been a gift Carmen has given with generosity and love and for which we will all always be grateful.
Thank you, Carmen.
-Head of School Kathy Giles