“I learned to read music before I learned to read words,” Ms. Carnevale, Chair of the Department of Performing Arts, told me when I sat down with her last week. Not surprisingly, music has been, “a constant in [her] life.” She started with Suzuki violin at age two, and then moved to the piano, drums, and singing, all by the age of 13 — “it snowballed from there.” In fact, she loves all kind of music, from Stevie Wonder to Sara Bareilles, to “our songwriters here at Masters.” She likes Stevie Wonder, because, “it’s such a good reminder of how no matter what shows up, you can still create magical and amazing things… it comes through in his music.” When it came to Sara Bareilles, Carnevale sang for the first and only time in our meeting. She sang, “you must, you MUST listen to” Seriously, which is Sara Bareilles and Leslie Odom Jr.’s collaboration that imagines President Obama’s inner monologue during the switch from his administration to President Trump’s. And I did. And she is right. Here’s the link, you must listen to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI8TCA3fJcs.
Ms. Carnevale knew she wanted to be a teacher before she knew she wanted to be a music teacher. Her desire to teach stemmed from having a brother who was about 2 years younger than she was. “He was MINE from the minute he was born and I just always wanted to teach him stuff… the excitement of sharing something with someone who is experiencing it for the first time got started there.” Given her love of music, “it made sense that [music and teaching] would go together.” Carnevale also considered psychology, particularly music therapy, but she “realized there is actually a lot of therapy in teaching, so [she] can do that without actually getting a psychology degree.”
She’s been at Masters for 15 years and clearly loves it, and is well loved by her students in return. She said Masters offers teachers a lot of freedom, “it makes me grateful to work here.” She added, that her favorite cafeteria food is Chicken Katsu.
I then asked Ms. Carnevale what it’s like to be married to another teacher at Masters. She said that she and Mr. Carnevale have been together since they were 18 and worked together before they dated, so, “it’s not as weird as you might think.” Because they live on campus, there is little separation between work and home, but it works because, “We embrace it, our kids embrace it.” She continued, “this is what the job is, you couldn’t do it if you weren’t just all into the school, and believe in the school and what it stands for and what its possibilities are.” She even comes in three days a week during her summer holiday to check email and prepare for the fall. In her summer, she also spends a lot of time with Mr. Carnevale’s parents, on Long Beach at the Jersey Shore, she said, “they’ve been like my parents for half of my life, they’re great Grandparents, the kids love them, being with them is easy, it’s a constant.”
Her advice to graduating seniors is, “give yourself permission to change your mind without feeling guilty about it… follow what makes you happy… it doesn’t mean you have to be completely unrealistic… you can find both a career and do what you love, it’s not one or the other.”