For more than 20 years, Carrie Stockbridge brought her love of teaching to Visions, the on-campus school at Homme Youth and Family Programs in Wittenberg, WI. Carrie passed away in summer 2016, but through the Carolyn J. Stockbridge Fund for Homme Staff Development, her commitment to the mission of Homme and Visions lives on.
“Carrie was a rare person,” said Heather Yaeger, executive director of Homme. “She genuinely believed in every child at Homme and made each one feel special. She was always available to the kids and to the staff, who relied on her for good advice and unwavering kindness.”
The students who attend Visions School are residents at Homme, which has a nationally recognized treatment program for boys who need help with serious issues of sexual perpetration, delinquency or victimization, often combined with alcohol or drug abuse and cognitive behavioral issues. As the Homme staff helps them deal with the traumas in their past and learn new behaviors, Visions helps them improve their learning skills.
After teaching at Visions for eight years, Carrie became principal in1999, a position she held until her retirement in 2011. “LSS helped her get her administrator’s license,” said Beth Stockbridge, Carrie’s daughter. “She was always grateful for that help. She just loved working there; she lived and breathed the mission.”
Heather recalls how Carrie made a point of welcoming each new student to Visions. “She had such compassion for the traumas they had been through,” she said. “Her office was a place the kids liked to be. She had butterflies everywhere. She would tell the kids, ‘A butterfly didn’t start out beautiful. It was a caterpillar that had to work hard to change.’”
As principal, Carrie focused on improving students’ reading skills as a way to improve their overall performance in school. “On average, the boys increase their reading level two full grades while they’re here,” said Heather.
As she neared retirement, Carrie’s generous nature had her thinking about how she could provide a gift that would help Homme. “She always appreciated that LSS had helped her advance in her career, and she wanted to help the staff of Homme and Visions in their professional development, too,” said Beth. “So, she worked with the LSS Foundation to set up two gifts that will support staff development.”
“When the staff learned about the gift Carrie made, they were deeply touched,” said Heather.
In the first year, Carrie’s gift will be used to help Visions teachers receive training in new skills. “Carrie left us too soon, and we miss her, but we’re so happy that her gift will be used just as she intended,” said Heather. To learn about the variety of ways to make a charitable gift that will establish a continuing legacy, contact the LSS Foundation.