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Carolyn Wilsey

English Teacher


Carolyn Wilsey specializes in individualized learning and greatly enjoys connecting with students. Her love of writing and reading began in early childhood and has continued through her academic, personal, and professional life. She graduated with a B.A. in American Literature from Middlebury College and, in 2005, earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College. During this program, she was trained to teach composition. Carolyn is a poet and is active in both local and national workshops.

Carolyn’s early career was in journalism and included posts at both small community newspapers and large national magazines. In 2009, she began teaching Writing 101 at Marymount Manhattan College and developed a passion for collaborating with students on their writing projects. After a successful semester as a writing coach for the State University of New York (SUNY), Carolyn transitioned to education full-time. She has worked as a writing consultant (or tutor) at Columbia University, SUNY, Marymount Manhattan College, and Greenwich Education Group (GEG). Additionally, she has classroom experience as a literature, study skills, and writing teacher at GEG and has worked with many students with learning differences. She has also worked as a mentor teacher, supporting intern English teachers, at Summerbridge at University High School in San Francisco. 

Carolyn believes that reading is an important social and personal action. Honoring the voices of authors who represent a diversity of races, ethnicities, genders, nationalities, time periods, and perspectives is essential to her. Texts in her English classes can range from contemporary song lyrics to iconic novels, from avant-garde prose poems to traditional nonfiction. She believes reading is a powerful way to access the human experience and is, in the words of author Julia Alvarez, a “radical act” because we gain insights into multiple ways of thinking and are exposed to new ways of living. Books extend an invitation to be “bearing witness to the mystery of what it is to be alive in this world,” as Alvarez says. Carolyn is passionate about exquisite, humorous, astonishing language, and it is her hope that students will also discover works they are excited about and connect with in her English classes. Additionally, she participates in an extra-credit book club co-facilitated by Compass students.

Her courses are interwoven with mindfulness and multi-sensory learning such as her signature “noticing walk” descriptive writing activity. Carolyn has many reading and writing strategies in her repertoire including (but not limited to) organizers, draw-it-out visualization, color-coding, and chunking of reading and essays. Social-emotional learning and executive functioning are also incorporated into daily plans. A fun, light-hearted approach shows up in game-based grammar and vocabulary development and reading comprehension activities like creating memes based on a book’s plot. Carolyn’s curriculum also includes accessible instructions and opportunities for guided practice on common essay types such as thesis-based, summary, research, and reflective essays. One of her goals is to give students tools for life-long reading and writing engagement. It is also her hope that students will delight in the wide array of creative writing offerings  — a celebration of students’ beautiful poems, stories, and narrative nonfiction has been published by Compass High in a print magazine format for the past two years.

Prior to joining the Compass staff in August of 2016, Carolyn was an Academic Support Specialist for SUNY — a college learning center position that included one-on-one writing coaching and time management sessions, creating and delivering workshops on topics such as how to avoid plagiarism, partnering with professors to embed academic support in classrooms, and designing and teaching independent studies, including a basic skills writing program, which she managed across three city locations. After living in Manhattan for six years and Brooklyn for three years, Carolyn relocated to San Francisco. She deeply values the Compass community and appreciates all of its connectedness and warmth.