For the past 13 years, Mrs. Carol Gedan has dedicated herself to serving and improving American Heritage. Whether she held the position of Secretary to the Deans or Assistant to the Upper School Principals, Mrs. Gedan never failed to help anyone in the office in a time of need.
Mrs. Gedan began her time at Heritage as the secretary to the deans and the Junior High principal in November 2005. She was promoted to the secretary of Junior High and Senior High principals a few years later. Along the way, Mrs. Gedan has also served as support for the Guidance department, National Merit Ray Dass Program and many Heritage projects. Due to her proximity to the principals, school vice president Dr. Douglas Laurie often called upon her for assistance.
“The school provided, for me, an amazing education for both of my kids,” Mrs. Gedan said. “This has been my family for 13 years.”
About a month ago, Mrs. Gedan was offered a position to work at a summer camp, which she accepted.
“I was not looking to leave American Heritage,” Mrs. Gedan said. “It was kind of a natural progression. I worked here for 13 years, I graduated American Heritage and now I get to go off to camp.”
With both of her children able to call themselves Heritage alumni, Mrs. Gedan feels as though this was the perfect time to finish her time at Heritage.
Mrs. Gedan has two children, Kathryn Martorella, class of 2018 and a freshman at Florida Atlantic University, and Charles Martorella, class of 2014 and college graduate.
“American Heritage gave me the gift of my children’s education, and for that I am forever grateful,” Mrs. Gedan said, choking back tears. “But it’s the people who I’m leaving behind. We’ve been through so much together as a group.”
“We’ve seen babies being born, we’ve seen people get married, we’ve seen the deaths of our friends and coworkers, and it’s those experiences that you share with people on the daily that show it’s more than just a job. It’s your life. It becomes the thread of your being.”
Mrs. Gedan’s new employer actually used to work with her at American Heritage, so he is willing to work with Mrs. Gedan through the transition.
“When people ask you, ‘What do you do?’ ‘I work at American Heritage,’ and that will always be in the core of who I am,” Mrs. Gedan said.
The only career Kathryn can remember for her mother is working at American Heritage. She began attending Heritage when she was in kindergarten, and her older brother Charles began his Heritage story in fourth grade.
One of Mrs. Gedan’s favorite parts of working at Heritage was being able to go to work and see her children every day. She takes pride in all of Heritage’s accomplishments and seeing students go from “the scared, meek, shy seventh graders to graduates [walking] across the stage and [getting] their diplomas.”
Although her time at Heritage has come to an end, Mrs. Gedan hopes to leave behind a legacy of automation. When she took over her current position from her predecessor, most, if not all, documentation was on paper. It was Mrs. Gedan who transferred the system to online forums such as Google Sheets and Google Forms.
Mrs. Gedan also served as the Alumni Coordinator. As Alumni Coordinator, Mrs. Gedan kept in touch with Heritage alumni and kept track of their notable achievements, such as Christian Thompson, who will appear on Broadway as Smokey Robinson in a new musical about The Temptations.
“Back in the day, my office was [in a location more in-touch with the students], and seeing them now as adults, being out there in the real world, is one of the most gratifying things I get to see,” Mrs. Gedan said. “To see the kids and the parents who pass through here and to watch their children grow up and accomplish amazing things is another highlight of the job.”
“A thank you doesn’t seem like enough. The gift that I received, not just the education for my kids, but a place to call home for so many years, and make so many amazing relationships and friendships with my coworkers, students and parents, goes far beyond any thank-you card that I could write,” Mrs. Gedan said. “There’re no words. It’s not like you just give your notice and you’re out.”
Mrs. Gedan struggles to cope with the thought that she will no longer enter campus on a daily basis and will find someone else in her office space. “I’m sitting here, writing down my job duties and my timelines and connecting documents for my replacement, and I think ‘I can’t leave.’ There’s so much,” Mrs. Gedan said. “But I have to. The school will continue on, no matter who is sitting in this chair. I am excited to see improvements; I’m excited to see the changes.”