As part of our ongoing series Meet Our GDS Faculty and Staff, we are excited to present: Meet Cara Henderson!
Read the Q&A below to learn more about Cara.
Primary Roles: High School Instructional Coach
Years at GDS: Two years
What do you love about GDS?
I love my amazing, inspiring colleagues. Students seem to really enjoy being around—and learning from—one another.
Why do you do your job?
This is my coaching commitment statement: I coach because I believe in our collective capacity for growth and learning through continued, effortful practice. I work to create a safe and brave space for reflection, introspection, inquiry, and managed risk-taking. This involves a commitment to my own regular reflection, interrogation of my assumptions, and confrontation of my biases. When I make mistakes, I try not to be overly self-critical, choosing instead to learn from the experience and make choices and/or take actions that reflect that learning.
A favorite part of your job?
I love that I'm able and encouraged to walk to and from work each day. I also appreciate that no two days are the same, and it is my daily charge to show up to support my incredibly hardworking and thoughtful colleagues.
Your work style in three words?
Honest. Caring. Dedicated.
Other GDS activities or roles that community members may not know about?
Cara is a 9th Grade Advisor and one of several faculty/staff advisors for (and attendee of) the GDS Summit on Sexual Assault & Consent. She is also a Tuesday morning greeter at High School carpool drop-off, a duty that gives her the chance to connect with students briefly as they begin their day.
A top hope/wish for your students and/or colleagues?
That we can find the strength and courage to be true to ourselves.
I love to read, go for long walks or hikes, go to the movies, and spend time with my family and friends.
A few favorites…?
My Aunt Letty's Buttermilk Pound Cake, which I bring to school and share with colleagues several times each year so that I can celebrate my children's and parents' birthdays—even though they live thousands of miles away from here. [A 2022 Augur Bit article featured Cara’s baking story and her Aunt Letty’s Buttermilk Pound Cake.]
Something you made, created, or accomplished you can proudly share?
I wrote a dissertation—"Developing Student Voice and Participatory Pedagogy: A Collaborative Study of an Evolving High School Advisory Program." It's available through ProQuest (and I'm not expecting anyone to read it). I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to think and write about a topic of interest to me.
Tell us about your family.
I have two adult children: Henry (26) and Anna (21). Henry runs an online tutoring business (tutoringparadise.com) and lives in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada with his husband, Ian. Anna is studying Environmental Analysis and Psychology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. My husband, Aaron, is an excellent cook and spends his workdays in the Advancement Office at Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland.
One thing about yourself your students/colleagues/others probably don't know?
I walk to school, I'm allergic to avocado, and I'm an only child.
One thing on your life "bucket list" you've already accomplished?
Twenty-five years ago, my then-infant son and I met (Oscar Award-winning director) Pedro Almodóvar while visiting my best friend in Madrid. I got Almodóvar's autograph and we chatted for a few minutes. But, what really grabbed his attention was that my son (whom I was cradling in my arms) was sucking on my pinky finger (which he used instead of a pacifier). He was totally intrigued and asked lots of questions about it. I joked that maybe we'd provided some creative inspiration for a future film. Well, guess what?! I finally got around to watching "Madres paralelas" (Parallel Mothers) this summer and Henry and I really did appear to have inspired a scene.
One thing on your life “bucket list” you have yet to accomplish?
With a tip from Cara, we reached out to hear what a colleague had to say…
English Department Chair and Instructional Coach Katherine Dunbar wrote, “What inspires me most about Cara is her warmth, her sweetness, her measured approach—and that’s just what she brings to her baking. I love those cookies, but I love our friendship even more. What she has brought to me, and what I’ve seen her bring to so many others here at GDS, is rare and wonderful: a perfect blend of seriousness and silliness; real humility and wry humor; very good counsel and very good company. I feel so fortunate!”
Christal Boyd added, “Cara’s warmth and care for the faculty is what makes her so good at her job. She’s always willing to listen—really listen—and help out in whatever way is necessary to support the people she works with (including learning how to run a light board!). She creates a safe place to be vulnerable and creates deep connections with her colleagues.”
Not one to miss an opportunity to express his gratitude, High School science teacher Greg Dallinger chimed in: “Cara is a curious, compassionate, and inquisitive academic coach. Her ability to connect concrete goals with a bigger picture approach to teaching makes her an excellent thought partner throughout the year long cycle. I am better at my job as a direct result of our interactions, which shows her value to the community.”