“I taught at Putnam Vocational High School, filling in for a long term sub,” he said. “A friend at the school twisted my arm a bit. That’s where I got bit by the bug to teach high school students. It felt like I was effective, despite having no idea what I was doing, and received positive feedback from the principal and the students. And success of any kind is always motivating. Every day was different.”
John, who was recently named as FCTS Academic Coordinator, was born in New York City, the son of Cameron and Angela Carey. Cameron Carey is an independent executive recruiter and Angela worked as a commercial artist before raising four boys.
John is married to Leena Valge, an administrative assistant at Amherst College. The couple are themselves the parents of four boys: Carsten, 13; Peter, 11; and twins Jack and Aleks, 7. In his spare time, John likes spending time with his family as well as travelling and running.
In 1989, John graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Wallingford, Conn., whose alumni include John F. Kennedy, Michael Douglas and Jamie Lee Curtis. From there, he went onto Connecticut College in New London, transferring to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he earned undergraduate degrees in English and Spanish in 1993. In 2001, John earned his master’s degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While a graduate student, John tutored at UMass through the Office of Learning Disabilities and Support Services.
“I learned through tutoring at the center (at UMass) that learning disabilities persist after high school, and that effort is the key to achievement, but isn’t always the answer,” he said. “You can compensate for learning disabilities, but sometimes students fall short.”
After earning his graduate degree, John took a job as an English and Spanish teacher at Franklin County Technical School in 2002. He taught for four and a half years, and then became the Director of Curriculum and Instruction.
“This was a very rich and challenging job, every year, but was a great learning experience,” John said of his time as Curriculum and Instruction director. “It was a good way to cut your teeth as a member of the administrative team.”
This year the position was split, with John becoming Academic Coordinator and Jocelyn Croft being named the CTE Coordinator. John feels that one of the things that makes FCTS unique is that, at 37 years old, the school is relatively young and its administrators, teachers, and staff retain a sense of idealism. He also values the fact that students come from 19 different communities and therefore the school agenda is not dominated by the interests of one town.
John would like to one day serve as a school superintendent, and recently completed a superintendent development program through the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators. To John, every school year at Franklin County Technical School brings new discoveries and new challenges. He’s happy to make that journey with students, staff and administrators who are so dedicated to the school’s mission.
“I like renewal, the way the annual cycle works,” John said. “The first day of school all of the teachers are healthy and eager, and they understand that the fall brings the opportunity for the students to also come back with a sense of renewal and potential for growth.”