Early Childhood General Education and Progressive Leadership '87
Bank Street can be a strong support in people’s lives if they let it happen. I have always believed that alumni can be helpful in giving back time and resources if they appreciate what Bank Street has done to further their education and their lives.
Carol Hillman was honored at this year’s Bank Street Celebration: The World As Our Classroom and was awarded an honorary doctorate at the 2022 Commencement for her lifetime of service and commitment to advancing early childhood education.
Carol attended Bank Street twice, earning an MSEd in Early Childhood and Elementary Education in 1967 and returning for an MSEd in Educational Leadership in 1987.
Drawing on her studies at Bank Street, she taught 4-year-olds at The Ethical Culture Nursery School in White Plains, New York for 20 years. Throughout her career, she has stayed connected to the Bank Street community, serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees and helping revive and lead The Long Trip at the Graduate School.
A lifelong educator, Carol has shared her ideas about early childhood education and experiential learning in four books and numerous articles. She has taught other early childhood teachers at Westchester Community College, consulted at nursery schools and day care centers, and traveled throughout Westchester County to improve its educational systems.
In 2018, Carol received the Bank Street College Alumni Association (BSCAA) Distinguished Service Award, about which she said, “I was really overwhelmed by the honor and I felt very grateful. Giving back is the most important thing I can do with my life. I have such deep respect for people I have known from Bank Street. Its mission to improve the education of children and teachers is everything I hope to embody, and it has made my life what it is today.”
A committed donor and volunteer, Carol has hosted annual potluck dinners at her home for over 20 years as co-chair of the alumni group in Westchester.
She said, “It was a pleasure as much as it was a way of giving back and keeping our group together by offering a place and a speaker to inspire us all. Community is such a big part of who I am, as well as who I want to be in the fields of both education and agriculture. These are two areas are of great importance in my life. I hope to do it for the rest of my life. I feel we have to respect the planet and care for each other.”
Always a self-starter and community organizer, Carol, at the age of 92, started a new business called New Salem Cider that offers products from her orchard and provides a Cider Garden as a gathering place for the local community and for visitors to the historic town of New Salem, Massachusetts.
“I feel like I’ve created a different kind of a classroom on the farm so that children, young and old, can know the importance of growing, processing, and harvesting food and, most of all, appreciate the land, respecting the trees and nature. I’m just happy that people want to be outside and appreciate this place. We have hosted many school groups over the years. Sometimes individuals come back as college students or young married couples and say, ‘thank you.’ Those are real satisfactions.”
Bank Street and the institution’s values have been a very important part of her life, and Carol encourages all graduates to stay involved.
She said, “We need to always be learners. I think students and alumni have the responsibility to participate in the programs that Bank Street and our communities have to offer them. People shouldn’t stop paying attention because they graduate or they retire. Bank Street can be a strong support in people’s lives if they let it happen. I have always believed that alumni can be helpful in giving back time and resources if they appreciate what Bank Street has done to further their education and their lives.”