Faculty in Action | Christine Carter
Faculty in Action | Christine Carter, Riding into the Next 25 Years
Jana F. Brown | At heart, Chris Carter is an equestrian. Ironically, her desire to make time for riding horses in the summers led her to what has become a fulfilling career as a humanities teacher. This year, Carter celebrates her 25th year on the faculty of St. Paul’s School. “Riding horses was one of the compelling reasons I looked to have summers off,” Carter says, a little embarrassed by the admission. “But also, when you are a teacher, every day is a little bit different. I was looking for that too.”
After growing up in the Mid-Atlantic and earning her history degree from Amherst College, followed by a master’s in history from Brown, Carter arrived at St. Paul’s in the fall of 1992. She previously taught at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va. Soon after her arrival, Carter became one of six faculty members on the original humanities design team that combined history and English into one course in a defining cornerstone of the SPS curriculum. Carter recalls that she and her colleagues spent hours together, learning the course material and planning how they would integrate the two subjects.
“Teaching the first course was incredibly difficult,” she says. “We had very big goals.” In the years since that initial hurdle, Carter has taught Humanities III, IV, and V. She has rejoiced in sharing with her students classic and modern novels and movies, helping them make connections between history and literature. Carter also has developed several humanities electives. During election years, she teaches Practical Politics, which requires students to engage in the political process. She also teaches American Foreign Policy and next year will help the Humanities Department introduce American Politics.
“Chris has encouraged colleagues to teach different core courses, believing it helps with departmental unity and keeps teachers up to date with pedagogy,” says Kevin Brooks, who heads the Humanities Department. Brooks credits Carter as the principal architect of the more recent revision of the humanities core curriculum, encouraging the department to move from chronological- and geographical-based courses to essential theme- and question-based ones.
“Her vision for the curriculum stimulated a productive overhaul of our core courses,” says Brooks, “preserving the best elements of the existing curriculum, while implementing new content that is more diverse, contemporary, and inclusive.” During her tenure, Carter has served as co-chair of the Conroy Committee, which brings distinguished visitors to the School, the Ferguson Scholarship Committee, the Community Outreach Program Steering Committee, and the Diversity Committee. From 2007-13 she served as Humanities Division Head. She is a beloved head of house in Kehaya.
In 1999, Carter became one of the first recipients of the Form of 1973 Mentor Fellowship, recognizing her ability to motivate and inspire her students. She used the funds to travel to China, birthplace of her daughter, Josie ’17, and also developed a course in Chinese history. Carter adopted her son, Jack, from Mongolia in 2003. She took a sabbatical in 2004 to spend time with her family, particularly to give Jack time to adjust to his new culture. “When I decided to add children to my life as a single parent, I knew St. Paul’s would be a great place to raise them,” she says. “My colleagues have been so supportive.” Carter currently holds the Richard F. Davis Chair in Humanities. In a cool twist of fate, it was Davis, a longtime faculty member who retired in 2003, who hired Carter 25 years ago.