A Farewell to Carrie Powers

By Andrew Lum, 2024

Carrie Powers, our K-12 English Language Director, is leaving Bedford Public Schools after six years. During this period, she has led Bedford’s ESL (English as a second language) Program. In celebration of this, The Lookout conducted an interview with Ms. Powers to learn a little more about her career. 

Prior to her current role, Ms. Powers taught in Lowell Public Schools for nearly 30 years, serving as an elementary, special education, and ESL teacher, as well as a program administrator. She also taught ESL and special education in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Spain. 

Powers became Bedford’s English Language Director in 2018. She recalls that she was interested in a directorship position and felt ready for the job due to her previous experience in Lowell. As EL Director, she can often be seen in classrooms, supervising teachers and working one-on-one with students across all four schools. 

In addition to having student programs, she has run an adult education program for six years. She intentionally made the program available to all adults (not just Bedford parents) in order to open opportunities for everyone. Recently, the program received a $60,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation; this is the first year that it has been run under this format. 

This year was also a unique year for the EL Department because of the influx of migrant families at the Bedford Plaza Hotel. The department was able to absorb the increased number of students without much difficulty because there was enough staff. At the hotel, student literacy classes and adult education programs were provided for over 60 students and 270 adults.

Powers has been very passionate about incorporating music into the EL curriculum. She says that singing is the best way to learn English because it allows students to articulate themselves and enunciate words—as if they were native speakers. At the hotel, she always ended classes with a song, and she is currently organizing a choir piece for the upcoming EL Awards Night.  

Powers says that the best part of her job is working with students and the most challenging part is juggling many responsibilities. Asked what advice she would give to her successor, she said that Bedford has a strong department, strong teachers, and strong data. In fact, 74% of learners show progress on ACCESS (an EL standardized test), whereas the state average is 30%. The next EL Director, she said, is “coming into a well-oiled machine”. 

When asked about her legacy, she said that she hopes that her teachers felt valued and respected by her. She summed it up by stating, “I didn’t come into Bedford with an idea that we all need to be using the same curriculum or materials… Every classroom looks slightly different, but our results are strong. I believe in teachers, and I believe that teachers need to be able to make curriculum decisions to teach ESL. We have to trust our teachers”. She also hopes that the adult education program continues to be sustainable. 

Outside the classroom, Powers trained her dog in dog shows, and just recently, they earned their second novice title. Her dog is also a trained therapy animal and makes appearances at Davis and Lane. Powers is also a part-time writer and is planning to publish a book soon. 

This August, Powers will become the EL Director of Robert College, a private boarding school in Istanbul, Turkey. She is very excited to work in another country and explore the city, along with her dog. In her words, “I’m retiring from public school, but I’m not ready to retire yet!” 

In conclusion, Powers would like to thank everyone in Bedford. She described the past six years as “a wonderful experience. I feel very lucky that I got to work in this town… I was able to get the work done, I was appreciated, and I felt respected. I’m very thankful for everyone I worked with.”

If you would like to see Ms. Powers’ work in action, the EL Department will be hosting its annual awards night on May 15th at 5.30pm in the JGMS auditorium. 

The Lookout thanks Ms. Powers for her service and sends its best wishes for the future!

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