Social worker Carol Evans helps students achieve

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”courtesy Carol Evans” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]

“I want to leave school with a good attitude and a recognition that I did my job,” said social worker Carol Evans.

by Alex Feit
“I think that people are the most important commodity in the world, and that it’s necessary to support and help people make their way through life,” said Carol Evans, a social worker at this school.
After over 20 years of service to the school community, Evans is ending a career at this school, which has changed the lives of countless students through Special Education programs.
Evans grew up in Tuscon, Arizona and attended Salpoint High School, a small Catholic private school, she said. She then attended the University of Arizona, but dropped out to pursue a theatrical career. “I reached the point where I could support myself and didn’t have to be a secretary or wait tables,” she said.
However, after a period of time, she quit her career as an actress in various theatrecompanies to spend more time with her son as a single mother, Evans said.
In late 1971, Evans moved to Boston and continued to work for social causes, such as the anti-war movement and women’s rights, she said. She also ran for Cambridge City Council and the United States Senate as a socialist candidate.
Evans returned to college in 1980 to receive a more formal education at UMass Boston, where she majored in English and then went to the Simmons College School of Social Work, where she got her master’s degree, she said. With her education, she could enter a career in social work.
“I discovered that I really liked working with teenagers,” she said. “A lot of fellow students found it weird, but I enjoyed it.”
After providing psychotherapy for children and adolescents at Cambridge Hospital and in Michigan, Evans stumbled upon this school after hearing about a two-year position as a social worker through a friend, she said.
She began working for NewStart, a  dropout prevention program for juniors and seniors, in 1990 and continued to work in this position for 15 years.
“NewStart had a strong academic expectation,” Evans said. “What everyone knew about the program was that if you were 10 minutes late to class, you received 10 minutes of detention.”
Within NewStart, Evans met with students individually and with groups on a weekly basis to help struggling students.
Evans also worked with teachers and counselors in order to “try to figure out strategies that can help support students,” she said.
“What I liked about NewStart and teenagers in general was that I liked the energy and effort that they put into understanding themselves and the world around them,” Evans said.
“I have so much respect for teenagers who go to school, go to classes, get the job done and go to college and work. But not all teenagers take a direct route. Sometimes, they mess up, but by and large, they’re trying to explore their world in a different way.”
Paula Garrity, a now retired former director of NewStart with Gretchen Sterling, said that Evans “made it look easy” to join and work in the program, something which she feels was difficult to do.
“She got it—the mission of NewStart, the students that we were working with and the team that we had formed,” Garrity said. “No matter how difficult the situation, she could help us reach a solution that would meet the needs of the individual student and maintain the integrity of the program.
In 2005, Evans began to work in the Integrated Program, the less structured, more “open setting” successor to NewStart, as a social worker, she said.
“Three years later, the Integrated Program merged with the Learning Center and became the Academic Support Program, Evans said.
According to Brian Rooney, the co-director of the Academic Support Program, Evans was known throughout the program for being “a tremendous team player.”
“She was always willing to help out with a kid in any way she could, and it was very easy for her to work with other staff members. Those were some traits that I think are very ‘Newton North’ qualities that she brought out,” Rooney said.
Then, in 2008, Evans became co-director of the scholarship program, which helps match students with potential scholarships and helps them fill out applications, she said.
She will continue as co-director of the program next year.
Mary O’Malley, another co-director of the Academic Support Program, was good friends with Evans, she said.
“I think one of the reasons Ms. Evans and I made a connection is one day in her office, I said I liked the chair that she had brought in, and she said, ‘you’d be surprised to know where I got that.’ When I asked, she said, ‘I found that on the side of the road.’ I suppose we’re both believers that one man’s junk is another person’s treasure,” O’Malley said.
When asked if she had any favorite or memorable students, Evans responded that it “is like comparing apples and oranges.”
Because of the students with whom she worked, Evans will miss this school, she said.
“I’ll miss the students. It’s like leaving before the end of a movie and not getting to see how the story’s going to end. I just saw one of my students as he was just coming in. I was thinking, ‘He’s a junior, I don’t know how he’s going to do next year.’
“I want to leave the school with a good attitude and a recognition that I did my job. I’ve done a good job, and it’s time to move on to a different phase of my life,” Evans said.
According to Evans, she will be fairly active after retiring from this school. She will continue to work at her private psychotherapy practice and begin to travel around the world, she said.
She said is is also considering pursuing several other interests, including reuniting a folk singing group she formed with friends from University of Arizona.