Cyndi Carroll’s passion for learning and inclusivity was one of the many reasons she was so loved by her students, both in Thailand during a work abroad opportunity and at Kate S. Durdan Public School, Loretto Catholic Elementary School and Father Hennepin Catholic Elementary School in Niagara Falls.
During this year’s Virtual Spring Convocation, Carroll, who passed away on March 28 at the age of 26, received a posthumous master’s of Education degree from Brock.
Her parents, Michael and Laura Lea, and younger sisters, Monica and Gillian, said her smile “consistently brightened everyone’s day.”
“She often got complimented for always having a smile on her face, even if she was having a rough day,” they said. “Her memories will live on forever in everyone’s hearts, but her infectious smile and laugh will be missed the most.”
Known as Miss Cyndi in the classroom, Carroll saw the value and potential in everyone. If a child was in her care, she was devoted to ensuring they didn’t slip through the cracks.
“Children just gravitated towards Cyndi,” the family said. “Through her education and employment, she saw the flaws in the education system. It was then that she knew she would make a bigger impact from an administrative standpoint. Her goal was to create a curriculum that was inclusive of all types of learning.”
They said she would make a point to get to know every single child she came in contact with, as well as their parents, and integrated common interests such as sports teams, into daily activities to make learning exciting and impactful.
Her family said she both loved and excelled in school. After doing intensive research on Master of Education programs, Brock was at the top of her list.
“She enjoyed her time at Brock and was seriously considering completing her PhD there as well,” the family said.
She was the type of person who would do anything for the people she loved, and if someone was even remotely excited about an idea, she wouldn’t just jump on board in support — she would organize whatever was necessary to make it happen.
“She was able to see the positive in every situation,” the family said. “If you wanted to climb a mountain, she would work out all the details. When there was a party to be planned, she always had the ideas. If you said you needed a week’s vacation on an island, she would figure out all the details without a second thought.”
She was also a “rock” when people came to her in need of advice, and “always gave her honest opinion — most of the time, it was exactly what you needed to hear.”
Adventure always seemed to be calling Carroll, who grew up in the Niagara region, and she would take any opportunity she could to explore the world.
She would travel for fun, charity, education, experience, as well to support friends and family when they were performing outside of town.
Carroll travelled to 21 countries and took a job teaching in Thailand for three months with a friend after graduating with honours from her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Waterloo. They spent their weekends exploring the country, and capped off the experience with a trip to Australia and New Zealand. The last trip she took was a father-daughter trip with Habitat for Humanity to Fiji, with another visit to Australia tagged on at the end.
“Cyndi did everything she wanted to do in life,” the family said. “She encouraged her friends and family to live their life to the fullest, too. The final chapters were the best. Laughing, loving living — the way life should be lived.”