Dr. McCarthy, Andover High School’s new interim assistant principal, may be quiet and calm but she regards the students of AHS with a sense of warmth, her smile being extremely kind and sincere.
Although new to AHS, Dr. McCarthy has an impressive amount of experience working with students. She was principal at Hudson Catholic for five years, director of character education and service learning and then principal at a kindergarten center for another five years, and then an elementary school principal for two years.
As the students gathered around, McCarthy sat up straight as a ruler, eager to enlighten. From the first question, she was engaging. When speaking, she uses many hand motions, similar to a conductor directing a concert, while effectively getting her points across.
Her responses to our questions were extremely thoughtful, and included below:
You’ve been the principal of a large amount of schools, in addition to teaching earlier in your career. Taking into consideration all that you’ve accomplished in your field, why did you decide to teach?
My mother was an English teacher. So the one thing I was never going to do in my whole life, was become an English teacher. I thought, I could do something different. [But] the paths just kept opening up, and … a lot of my strong suits were in writing, and I loved the thinking, and I loved the reading. And so what happened was I was in graduate school, didn’t take any certification courses, and was offered a teaching position in the high school and walked in, and it was just so natural. It felt wonderful that that’s how it all started, and I became an English teacher. I taught English on the high school level, on the junior high level, and on the college level. And, so I have a lot of years of teaching, and I consider myself a teacher. Yes, I’m an administrator, but I keep my certifications up. I’m still an English teacher.
What differences have you noticed between Hudson Catholic, a school you were previously a principal of, and Andover High School?
One of the things that I find is that there are a lot of similarities, that the students here really want to achieve and do well. I’ve seen the seniors, how many schools they’re applying to, and that people are serious, enthusiastic and engaged. I find similarities like that, and that’s pleasing to me, to see that students really want to learn. Also, one of the things I’ve found that I remember too, from all of my principalships, is that students want to have a voice. I can tell that the students here like to have a voice in things too.
Do you have any worries concerning working at a large school versus the smaller ones that you have previously worked at?
My main worry is not getting to know students by name, that’s a challenge, and I really like to do that. I like to be able to say hi to people by name, so I’m going to say hi, i will always say hi, but I will get people’s faces, but there’s so many names to learn, so that’s part of it, that’s one thing that’s discouraging to me, because there’s a lot of people. I don’t start off in September, I started off in November, so I have to try to catch up to that, that is one of my biggest worries.
What do you want to improve about Andover High School?
I want the systems to move as well as they possibly can and to be responsive to students. I’ve been hearing a lot about the new schedule and there’s a lot of questions about it and committees that are working on things, and any ways that I can bring my experience from the past to be able to help, that’s what I’d like to do, rather than starting off and saying and making recommendations, I have to learn your ways and learn what Andover High School is about. I know the schedule is something new for everyone, so I might be able to contribute some of my ideas or at least ask some questions about that and be able to reflect what students are thinking too because that is one of the first things I did. I went around and introduced myself to people and asked students, what do you think I should know about Andover High School? And they said, “Oh, the new schedule.” I know there’s a lot of upper class students that just still have a lot of questions about it … and I want to learn more about it and see if there’s any way I can help.
By the Newspaper Production Class at AHS