Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

Left Hand Laurel – Carrie O’Boyle


Photo by Vicky Dorvee Parent volunteer at Heatherwood Elementary School, Carrie O’Boyle, is this month’s recipient of the Left Hand Laurel.

Heatherwood Elementary School (HES) won the lottery when Carrie O’Boyle moved to Gunbarrel seven years ago. Her husband Patrick was starting a new job in the area, so after more than 20 years in Madison, WI, the couple and their two young children headed to Colorado. The O’Boyle boys are Finn, now 11 and attending Platt Middle School, and Cormac (Mac), 9, a fourth-grader at HES.

“Carrie, a valued volunteer at Heatherwood Elementary, is always willing to pitch in where needed and lend a helping hand,” Heatherwood office support staff said in an email. “Whether she is making soup for teachers, organizing the milk cap fundraiser or assisting staff in the office or the classroom, Carrie’s sunny demeanor brightens the school.”

Both O’Boyle and her husband are creative directors. Carrie’s past employers were Land’s End and American Girl. After Finn was born, Carrie started working from home as a consultant, which allows her a flexible schedule to find time to volunteer.

“For me, it’s important to show kids that I care about their school and it’s worthy of my time and energy,” O’Boyle said. “And I found that I just really love being around kids.”

Not knowing anyone when they first moved to the area, her first community connections were made through HES. O’Boyle started volunteering by stepping up to be the room mother for Finn’s kindergarten class. Once both boys were in school full days, she became more involved working on projects for teachers and working one-on-one with students who need extra assistance.

O’Boyle also helps maintain the Heatherwood Elementary School parents’ Facebook page, where she reports on everyday happenings at the school, including highlighting some staff members in the school who might be less known, such as paraprofessionals.She’s involved with fundraising events, such as HES’s Boosterthon Fun Run, as well.

O’Boyle can be found pitching in at the school office, and on Souper Mondays (the first Monday of each month), she can be counted on to bring sustenance for the teaching staff.

In addition to being a professional creative director, she’s also a copywriter and editor, and creates clients’ websites. This background gives her the tools to talk to students about social media and writing skills.

“Carrie is the ultimate mom and volunteer for Heatherwood,” fourth-grade teacher Cathy Zimmerman said. “She always makes certain students as well as teachers have what they need. If a class needs a party she is there with the food, the craft and the hands to help. She will do presentations on her career experiences. We love and appreciate all that Carrie does to keep Heatherwood going.”

Helping out in art classes has been a favorite activity for O’Boyle. For Valentine’s Day, O’Boyle organized “Share the Love,” a community outreach event where every classroom made Valentines for firemen as well as other local organizations, and for children in hospitals. On special occasions, she’ll provide music for dance parties. And those ornaments with the kids’ photos — she’s one of the reasons parents receive those each year.

“You can find Carrie all over the school,” second-grade teacher Nicole Martini said. “Her smiling face might be greeting you in the office, helping in a classroom, or delivering soup for the teachers on Souper Monday.

“Her son was in my class a couple of years ago and she helped me organize classroom celebrations,” Martini said. “She helped with publishing kids’ writing and was my go-to parent when I needed help with anything. Carrie’s amazing heart and dedication to our school really shows in all she does for the kids and staff.”

When her oldest was two and the youngest just six months old, O’Boyle was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The experience made her reevaluate what was important in life, which drives a lot of what she does on a daily basis.

“It was really a hard time and as cliché as it sounds, it made me focus on spending my time how I want to spend my time and with the people I want to spend my time with,” O’Boyle said.

To take care of herself, she’s found that walking with her Yorkie, Cricket, and taking a Planet Motion dance class she loves at the YMCA are very therapeutic for her body and soul.

“I respect teachers so much and anything I can do to make their lives easier, I will do,” O’Boyle said. “It’s really my honor to give back. It makes me feel good. If the school is strong, the community is strong.”


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