Carolyn Uhle’s title at Rowland Hall is director of human resources.
It’s a good title, but it really doesn’t give you a full picture of what Carolyn does. Every day at the school, Carolyn functions as a psychologist, a sociologist, a mediator, a proofreader, an accountant, a policy keeper, and a problem solver.
“We are so lucky to have Carolyn,” said Chief Financial Officer Gwen Fonarow. “She is that rare person who can see the big picture yet at the same time respond to each situation with care, understanding that people and their needs can be so vastly different.”
We are so lucky to have Carolyn. She is that rare person who can see the big picture yet at the same time respond to each situation with care, understanding that people and their needs can be so vastly different.—Gwen Fonarow, chief financial officerCarolyn is the first person to hold the director of human resources position in the history of the school, and her experience as a staff member for the last 25-plus years made her well suited for it. Because, like Rowland Hall, Carolyn grew and changed a lot in that time.
“When I was first hired, I was the administrative assistant to the Lower School principal,” said Carolyn. “After a few years I transferred into the Business Office, where I did accounts payable and eventually took on payroll, then added benefits. In 2016 I was made the human resources manager and began completing my certification in the field. Then, after completing the certification in 2019, I was made director of human resources.”
Each of Carolyn’s career changes at Rowland Hall echoes the story of a school transforming from a small niche campus in the Avenues to a dynamic, constantly growing multi-campus institution with a national reputation. After all, one of the reasons she became the school’s first human resources director is that, up until fairly recently, such a position wasn’t recognized as needed. “Things are so different now than when I started,” she said. “But what stays the same is that this is a place of open ideas and diversity that really cares about preparing students to impact their world in a positive way.”
The position of director of human resources isn’t directly involved in education. Carolyn doesn’t prepare lesson plans or grade papers, take attendance or schedule parent-teacher conferences. But she sees her job as supporting the students. “Even though I don’t have a lot of contact with kids, I try to support faculty so that they can do their jobs better, and I support managers and administration so they can support faculty,” she said. “Everyone here, at the end of the day, is here for the kids.”
Everyone here, at the end of the day, is here for the kids.—Carolyn Uhle
In order to support the faculty and staff Carolyn has worked hard to put in place a foundation for employment practices and a model of equity across all divisions when it comes to human resources. Her goal, she said, is for everyone to receive equal treatment and access to benefits, no matter where they are working or who they report to. She has done this not only through her work, but by collaborating with others to ensure that there is fairness and understanding of policies among the faculty and staff. “I think workplace harmony is important to Carolyn,” said Gwen. “Of course, that doesn’t mean people don’t get upset. But it means that when they do, they’re heard and given fair answers.”
“Carolyn puts people first,” added Associate Head of School Jennifer Blake. “That isn’t always easy in her position, trying to balance the business interests of the school with the personal needs of the faculty and staff, but she works tirelessly doing it."
Maybe the reason Carolyn is so good at caring for people professionally is how much cares for them personally. If you ask anyone who has known Carolyn for an extended time, the first thing they will tell you is how much they value her as a friend and confidant. “Carolyn was the first person I went to when I received some bad news while at work,” said Director of Operations Ann Burnett. “The news came as a shock and I thought of nothing more but to seek her out in her office so we could process together.”
Chief Information Officer Patrick Godfrey said that Carolyn’s office often serves as a place of refuge for anyone in need of one. “You can walk in and shut the door and vent a bit and know it’s not going to go anywhere,” he said. “And she will always manage to make you laugh. Carolyn has an excellent sense of humor.”
That sense of humor has been the source of countless practical jokes at the school over the years. Carolyn has been a part of pranks involving tiny school photos of employees pasted into various locations around campus and a famous flying loaf of bread. For all her antics, though, Carolyn is willing to get as good as she gives. “Carolyn has a really sensitive sense of smell,” says Patrick. “We took hundreds of those hanging air freshener trees and put them all over her office. It took her almost a month and a half to find them all. She never got mad, though, she just kept laughing.”
As she looks toward the next chapter of her life, Carolyn said she’s looking forward to spending time with her parents, her partner, John, and their dogs and family, and to recharging her batteries for new adventures. Of course, that doesn’t mean we still won’t see Carolyn around campus—she is thrilled with the changes and growth on the school’s horizon, and as excited about Rowland Hall’s new chapter as she is for her own. She will always be a part of this community, in many ways—even in muscle memory.
“When I leave, I’m probably going to drive to school every morning at first because that’s been my habit for 29 years,” she chuckled.
Banner: Carolyn with colleague Carol Frymire.