Longtime staff member Carol Frymire to retire after 30 years of stepping in and stepping up at Rowland Hall
It’s not hard to see where Carol Frymire got her work ethic: her mother, Ina Wyman, was a schoolteacher by day, a Murray City Library employee by night, and a devoted wife and mother around the clock. So it makes sense that Carol has worked consistently since she was a teenager, first in jobs at an Arctic Circle restaurant and a drugstore soda fountain, later in customer service for Eastern Airlines, and finally—luckily for Rowland Hall—in several different capacities as a school staff member for the past 30 years.
First hired as a receptionist in the late 1980s, Carol has since held all of the following positions: assistant to Head of School Alan Sparrow; owner’s representative during construction of the McCarthey Campus; early morning and after-school childcare provider; director of alumni relations; student-billing manager; auction director and assistant; calendar coordinator; database manager; and for the past five years, assistant to Director of Technology Patrick Godfrey. In addition, she also wore the hat of school parent for several years—her son Andy was a Rowland Hall student from seventh through eleventh grades, and though he left his senior year to play hockey at Highland High School, he’s considered an honorary alum.
While Rowland Hall is known for its supportive culture that encourages professional growth, and many faculty and staff have switched jobs once or twice during their tenure at the school, Carol might just hold the record for most number of roles. It doesn’t faze her, however: she’s always been willing to go where she’s needed and learn new skills, all in service of the school’s mission.
“She provides awesome customer service,” Patrick Godfrey said. “She’ll jump in to help at Maker Day or get students geared up for skiing and snowboarding—all things that are not in her job description.” In a similarly selfless fashion, when she was alumni director, Carol formed a special bond with Margaret Jackson, an alumna from the class of 1942. “She had rheumatoid arthritis and was in a wheelchair,” Carol recalled. “So I’d pick her up and take her to things. She was my friend.”
Carol might just hold the record for most number of roles. It doesn’t faze her, however: she’s always been willing to go where she’s needed and learn new skills, all in service of the school’s mission.
Carol’s caring nature, flexibility, and can-do attitude have served the school community tremendously through the years. According to Alan Sparrow, Carol became his assistant the same day he began his headship, and they grew in their positions side by side. “There were many times we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, laughed, and said, ‘I guess we’re going to learn how to do this together!’” he said. Some issues they tackled in the 1990s included establishing basic human-resources policies and examining faculty salaries and credentials. And even though Carol eventually moved into a new role, he continued to consult her for advice—and relied on her to keep him updated on news and events throughout the school community.
Perhaps the most shining example of Carol’s willingness to step up occurred in 2009, when a gas leak near 1500 East and 500 South resulted in a mandatory evacuation of the McCarthey Campus and surrounding areas. As Carol remembers it, Director of Operations Ann Burnett walked down the hallway to her office, threw a set of bus keys on her desk, and told her to go pick up the four-year-old students and take them to the Lincoln Street Campus.
Carol—never having driven a bus before, or anything similar—might have been a little nervous, but she never hesitated. She teamed up with then-teacher Linda Strohacker, loaded the bus with children, and headed out to complete her charge.
“I drove over probably 15 sprinkler heads when I pulled the bus out of the circle,” Carol laughed. Plus she had inadvertently deployed the stop sign on the side of the bus and couldn’t figure out how to retract it. “All the way down the hill, the sign was vibrating out there…prrr-prrr-prrr,” she mimicked. Nevertheless, she delivered the students safely and was subsequently asked by a police officer to help evacuate very young children—including infants—from the nearby KinderCare facility. And after that, she and her bus were summoned to the local Veterans Affairs hospital in case anyone needed transportation from there as well.
Finally, after being released by her police escort, Carol returned to the Lincoln Street Campus to pick up evacuated lower and beginning school faculty, and she drove them home on the bus.
While she smiled at the memory of that day, and the certificate of recognition she received for “careening above and beyond the call of duty,” Carol was also quick to shrug off her contributions as anything more than what others would do. “People rise to the occasion,” she said. “It worked out well, and every single one of our kids got down the hill in record time.”
No matter what position she had, Carol understood that students come first in our culture. —Head of School Alan Sparrow
Because for Carol, it’s always been about the students at Rowland Hall, and the unexpected daily interactions have kept her amused and engaged in her work. “It’s the happenstance, off-the-cuff things they say each day,” she said. “They just tickle me because they’re so willing to be vulnerable, and funny.” Her peers recognize just how much the students have meant to Carol. “She gets the big picture of what we do here at Rowland Hall and has always been focused on the students,” Patrick Godfrey said.
Alan Sparrow added: “No matter what position she had, Carol understood that students come first in our culture.”
Now, after a lifetime of working and the last 30 years of prioritizing students and colleagues at Rowland Hall, Carol will retire this summer and start a new adventure in Southern Utah with her husband, David. She plans to spend much of her time reading, improving her golf game, camping, and visiting with her children and grandchildren. She doesn’t want to plan too much, knowing that retirement is likely to be a major adjustment. “I’ve never not worked since I was 14,” she said.
While she’s definitely earned the right to rest and take things as they come, she will be sorely missed around campus. “Her friendship and loyalty will be hard to replace,” Patrick Godfrey said.