Capital Community College (CCC) lost a beloved member of its campus family last October 19th with the passing of Susan McCarthy, 73, an early childhood educator who led the Elaine Stewart McKirdy Early Childhood Center (The Lab School) for 22 years.
The Church of the Holy Spirit in Newington was filled as much as social distancing would allow at Susan’s funeral mass last October. Her family was joined by scores of friends, colleagues and individuals touched by her work as a teacher of young children and for being “a mentor, confidante, friend, and role model to all.”
Capital’s was the first childhood center established at a community college in Connecticut. And Susan, called a “pioneer” for bringing early care to the college, assisted other campuses during her career.
Retired Lab School teacher Carmen Marrero, a CCC Alumna and longtime colleague, recalls Susan lending a hand to Asnuntuck Community College when a reading room was created for children of students when they were in class at the Enfield school.
Susan also steered contributions and grants to the College from friends in the corporate world and guided the transition of the original lab school, a cottage-like building located outside the 61 Woodland Street campus, to the downtown campus in 2002.
“She designed the modern facility we currently use as the Lab School,” said Psychology Professor Stephen O. Fagbemi, Ph.D., her colleague and a former Social and Behavioral Sciences Department Chair.
The College received a $50,000 endowment gift in 2004 from Andrew C. McKirdy, Chancellor Emeritus of CT Community Colleges and the downtown Lab School was re-dedicated in memory of McKirdy’s wife, Elaine Stewart McKirdy, who led efforts to establish campus child-care services.
Professor Fagbemi, in a tribute to Susan at her passing, wrote: “I first got to know Susan as a colleague when I joined the College in 1987. In those early years, I used to visit the Lab School to observe the marvelous work that she and other colleagues do at the Lab school. More memorable for me personally, was when my daughter “Stephanie” was a toddler, Susan would come to take her from my office to briefly play with other kids at the Lab School. That, in a way, sums up my memory of Susan McCarthy – her love for children.”
“Sue inspired generations of ECE teachers to put social and emotional learning first for kids,” said former State Senator Beth Bye, now the Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood Education for Connecticut, who remembers Susan McCarthy as one of “the nicest people you would ever meet.”
In 2021, colleagues and friends will dedicate a “Window to the Future” and a Lab School plaque at the Main Street campus in memory of Susan for her pioneering work and dedicated service to the college. For information contact John McNamara (email@example.com) or Amy Lemire (firstname.lastname@example.org)