ST. JOHN BOSCO AWARD 2011 – MRS. CARROLL
Raised on 320 acres of Colorado farmland by Dad whose formal education ended at 8th grade and Mom whose two years of college landed her a one year, one-room school house teaching stint, Marie Anne Westhoff was the first of eight children.
She attended Kiowa, a two-room school of eight grades. She survived traumatic experiences of losing the penmanship contest to Corky Washburn and misspelling “desperate” at the county spelling bee. (Anne claims she knew how to spell every other word in the contest – we’ll take her on her word.) She recently returned to Kiowa, now part of a summer camp, to ride on the wooden merry-go-round which has stood the test of time.
Anne played first base on her 4-H softball team and was a member of the “B” square dance team. According to an entry in her scrapbook, 4-H was the key to her learning “grace and poise”.
Brimming with grace and poise, she graduated salutatorian from Wiggins High at the age of 16. (C’s in Home Economics kept her behind prom escort Burt Nittler.) She avoided domestic classes at Loretto Heights College and was valedictorian despite sitting out a semester to earn money at Bob’s Pizzeria.
At Denver’s North High School her pupils were asked to comment on her student teaching. Sparing no feelings, one wrote, “I think you should find a different line of work.”
A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, she got her Master’s from New York University. Ignoring the high schooler’s advice, she did teach English at Holy Rosary Academy and Queen of Apostles Junior College – both New York schools.
She put her C-level homemaking skills to work in California after marrying Warren Carroll in 1967. Then, moving to Virginia, she volunteered as a writer for Triumph magazine. Under its auspices, she started a one-grade school in Warrenton called Christian Commonwealth.
The magazine stopped publication, so she moved the school to Manassas in 1975, changed its name to Seton and added grades 7 and 9, which boosted the enrollment to 16 students.
Jeans and t-shirts gave way to plaid skirts and ties as the school grew and acquired its current property thanks to the help of Bishop Welsh.
Seeing a greater future in writing history than grammar books, Anne converted to history teaching and used her research for class notes to author Christ the King, Lord of History; Christ in the Americas and Following Christ in the World.
Under Anne’s constant and dedicated governing, Seton has blossomed into a school of 350 students, 30 teachers, high academic achievement and state championship athletic teams, while maintaining its mainstays of full Catholic truth and witness to the beauty and dignity of all human life.
A recent recipient of the VFW State Teacher of the Year Award, more importantly, Anne is recognized by her students and their parents and Seton’s faculty as the consummate teacher and exemplar as she follows Mother Seton’s counsel: “Let His will of the present moment be the first rule of our daily life and work.
Of Mrs. C’s many virtues, humble obedience
stands out in my mind. As a priest, I look back
on her obedience to the pastors that have served
the local parish where Seton is located.
Throughout the years that my family has been
involved at Seton, there have been a number of
pastors and they have had very different
personalities and different likes and dislikes.
Mrs. C has always shown respect to their
authority as the representatives of the bishop of
Arlington. This cannot but be part of the reason
why Seton has persevered and thrived, since such
obedience is always the work of God.
—Father Tom Vander Woude, Class of ‘84
“Mrs. Carroll is as close as we can now
get to meeting Mother Teresa. She has
devoted her entire life to the service
of others, and she has done so with
absolute humility, submitting completely
to what she believes is the will of God.
Isn’t that what it means to love? How
could any faithful person fail to be
inspired by her example? I know I have.
–Jim Koehr, parent, teacher coach
Mrs. Carroll does not see teaching as a job.
Teaching is her mission, her purpose, her
passion, and her legacy that will impact her
students for the rest of their lives. I still
remember many of the valuable lessons she
taught me about living a moral life all for the
greater glory of God. She helped shape my
character and gave me tools to weather the
storms of life. I am forever thankful for the
faith she lives which transfers to Seton
School and all who come in contact with her.
Colleen Flynn, Alumni President, Class of ‘99
In my life from Seton student to Seton
teacher/coach, and now parent, Mrs. Carroll
has been a source of spiritual strength. Her
care for Dr. Carroll as he prepared for death,
was a complete act of self-giving as she
continued to put everyone with whom I saw
her interact before herself. She teaches more
through her actions than through words, but it
is the consistency between the two that changes
the lives of all around her: she inspires the
desire to be a saint!
–Tim Heisler, Class of ‘90