Many of you have already met Dave Carty, who at 6'4" quite literally towers over our other faculty and staff on campus. He signed on as our Head of Operations this summer and quickly become an integral part of our community, overseeing all operations from facilities to bus service. Mr. Carty also happens to be a former college basketball player and stepped up to be the assistant coach of our Gr. 6–8 CONSAT basketball team!
Driven by a focus on his own three children, Mr. Carty followed an interesting road to a career in education. We wanted to share his perspective as our Head of Operations as well as a parent of three who all attended independent schools from PreK through high school.
Mr. Carty joined BASIS Independent Brooklyn in July 2019 from Kent Place School in Summit, NJ where he served as Director of Strategic Operations. Prior to joining Kent Place, Mr. Carty was the Treasurer at Stevens Cooperative School in Hoboken for 11 years. Mr. Carty holds a BA from Colgate University, an MBA from the New York University and has completed course work in global education at Teachers College at Columbia University.
The conversation below had been condensed and edited for clarity.
Have you always worked in education?
Actually, no. I started my career in the international business development world working for a large consumer products company, and I did that for over a decade. Then I took some time off to work at home and raise my three children.
It was during that time that I got intimately involved in the independent school world—first as a volunteer like so many other parents do. Then I was asked to run for the board of this particular independent school. Then they needed someone to be the treasurer of that school. At the time the school had no real business office to speak of. I served as the acting business officer while also serving as the treasurer. That gave me a really in-depth, bird’s-eye-view of what it was like to be behind the scenes of an independent school. That’s where I became really intrigued by the whole education model of the independent school.
What intrigued you about the independent school model?
When I first started looking at schools for my own children, I became intrigued about independent school education overall. This would have been preschool. I noticed how different the education offered at these schools was than the education I received growing up. That continued when we started looking for high schools for the children.
I noticed that the high schools in New York City had such a variety and depth. There was such a richer variety of high schools than I had to choose from growing up. I had a choice of two: one public in town or the regional Catholic high school.
I would kid with parents that the New York City education world now is like a buffet. There is something for everybody, and everything is high quality. That is what drew me to the independent school world—the choice, the quality, the variety. It was more than just a cookie-cutter approach.
Now you have three kids who went through independent schools. That is quite a commitment. Was that an easy choice for you to make?
Another way to say it is sacrifice. Committing to an independent school education is a significant expense, especially when you start in PreK and then you calculate it through grade 12. Then you have to multiply that for however many kids you have. In our case, we did not have good public school options in the town where we lived. So if we wanted to stay there, then it was independent school.
As a parent I watched my kids thrive in the independent school world. Looking even at the independent schools compared to good public school worlds—and I’m from New Jersey where there are lots of suburban school districts with some of the best public schools in the nation. There is a difference between what [my children] got in an independent setting than what they would have gotten in a public setting.
I think even if someone gave the choice of moving to one of the top suburbs or staying where you are and spending "X" on independent schools, I still would have stayed where I was, since I saw such a difference in the educational experience.
Now all three of your kids are in college?
Yes, all three are in college, and they completed independent school through grade 12. Each one was very different, and each one sought different things, and each one wound up in very different colleges.
Photo: Mr. Carty's son graduated from Clemson University last month.
His daughters currently attend Carleton College and Vassar College.
Even with the kids grown, you decided to stay in the independent school world. Why?
I’ll put my employee hat on now. One thing I really love about working in a school is the mission. You never wake up questioning how important the job is that you do. Honestly, sometimes I did wake up in the consumer products business thinking that. Never do I think that in the school world.
Days are challenging; days are hard. But you never doubt the value of what it is you are doing. You can say that about any nonprofit that is mission-focused, but there is something unique about a school. There is something about seeing children develop; seeing these little minds that come in and the spark that is there to learn and create and become the next generation of leaders, mathematicians, poets. We make that happen here.
What drew you specifically to BASIS Independent Brooklyn ?
BASIS Independent Brooklyn was interesting. I was not familiar with the school prior to hearing about the position. The more I researched, the more I was intrigued about the combination of rigor—and it is a very rigorous curriculum—but also the flip side of rigor is vigor.
The classrooms are joyous places where everyone looks excited. It's hard. It is hard work. There is a joy to learning here that I witnessed in the classrooms. There’s an enthusiasm in the classrooms, and there is an enthusiasm among the teachers. To see a school that can combine this level of rigor with that much joy in the classrooms–I wanted to learn more about it and be part of it. I was very intrigued to take the job.
I’m about six months into my job and still loving it. I am as impressed as I was when I first visited the school before I accepted the job. I am constantly struck by the quality of the faculty and the quality of the students that we have here.
Anything else you would like parents to know?
I’ve had the good fortune of working with great Heads of School, and I've also been a parent at schools led by very good Heads of School. I’ve gotten nuggets from those various school leaders that have stuck with me. One from my children's high school Head of School stuck with me about independent schools. He said that "never again in your child’s life will there be so many adults focused on the success of your child." I really took that to heart. I first heard that about eight years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. It's true.
In an independent school everybody in the building has one thing on their mind–the success of each student here. This is a unique window in a student’s life where so many adults are focused on one thing, and that is on the success of a child.
Photo caption: Assistant Coach Carty works with our Gr. 6–8 CONSAT basketball team.