Dawn Snellenberger interviewed Class of 1998 alumna Carrie (Benson) Butler. Carrie lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Greg, and children Luke, Maddie, and Jacob. She teaches Humanities and Writing at Laconia Christian School.
When Carrie was young, she and her family lived in the Berkshires, but she had family ties in Manchester where her grand-mother owned a children’s clothing store on Main Street. One day Evelyn Banning, a CCS board member at that time, entered the grandmother’s shop, and they struck up a conversation about Christian schools. Even though the shop was on the same street as CCS, Carrie's grandmother had never heard about Cornerstone! Evelyn encouraged the grandmother to find out more about the school.
On that recommendation, her parents investigated CCS, compared it with other Christian schools, and eventually enrolled her. This was a huge decision, as it required Carrie and her mom to stay with her grandmother during the week and only be reunited as a full family on the weekends; however, her parents were willing to make the sacrifice because they valued the Christian atmosphere, small class sizes and the individualized instruction.
Eventually, Carrie's family relocated to Connecticut, and she was able to graduate from CCS. Carrie said she loved the core of students from her class, because they felt like an extended family. That's a big deal when you're an only child! She also felt loved and cared for by her teachers, and she was well prepared for the rigors of college after graduation.
She began attending college at Gordon College and then transferred to UCONN, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. She then went on to receive her Masters of Education degree, where she hoped to become a teacher and follow in the footsteps of her CCS English teacher, Karen Orfitelli.
After graduation, Carrie realized her goal of becoming a high school English teacher! She also realized two other large milestones: marriage and motherhood. In time she enrolled her oldest son, Luke, in preschool at CCS. During that school year, her husband felt a call to full-time ministry, so they moved to New Hampshire where Greg began working for a church. While in New Hampshire, their family expanded. They also chose Christian education for their own children.
In November, 2016, Carrie received horrifying news that she had breast cancer. With her characteristic optimism, she tackled the biopsies and treatments while holding onto her faith. At times the treatments made her unable to read or focus, but she was able to recall the memory verses she tucked away in her heart while at CCS. Her parents didn’t know at the time that God would use their investment in their daughter’s education to strengthen her through her illness.
Today Carrie is feeling stronger and taking life day by day. She said, “Bad things happen. Life doesn’t ever go back to the way it was, but we make adjustments.” She chooses to live in the present and does so by reminding herself of the important verse found in Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Thanks, Carrie, for your willingness to share how God used CCS to shape and prepare you for where you are today. If you would like to share your CCS story with us, we would love to hear it. You can reach Dawn Snellenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.