After a Rough Start, Lisa Carter, EHS ’94, a New Author Worked Hard and Made Her Dreams Come True

Lisa (Henderson) Carter, EHS ’94, was born in Roxbury, Mass. She recently wrote a book, “Behind The Smile” (to be published this fall) detailing her life growing up in the inner city of Boston. At 12 years old, she was placed in foster care and shortly after became pregnant. Her mother died one month before her child was born due to alcohol and drug addiction.
In the 7th grade, Lisa attended Boston Latin School before being asked to transition to an alternative school for pregnant girls. After her child was born, she attended a different middle school and later selected English High as her school of choice. To her surprise, English had a child-care program for students located on the first floor of the school. A 1992 story about the center by Mike Snider was featured in USA Today. Everyday she took her son to school with her before heading to class. “This was a saving grace and worked in my favor”, said Lisa.
Not only was there a child-care program that helped support her academic and parenting needs, there was also an English High community of caring teachers, staff and peers who saw her potential and loved her despite her story. This is exactly what she needed to succeed through a very challenging high school experience.
Lisa recalls many helpful teachers at English and singles out Algebra teacher Karen Gelzinis and Language Art (composition) teacher Mary Fahey. “Miss Gelzinis (inducted into the English High teaching Hall of Fame) had an exciting teaching method that engaged students. She was always encouraging and took the time to make sure students understood before moving on to the next unit.”
It was in Ms. Fahey’s class that Lisa started writing parts of her story as a child and teen mom for a class assignment. Her most memorable chapter entitled, Future Goals, detailed her dreams of one day going to college, pursuing a career in nursing or cosmetology and moving away from the violence in her community she and her peers were exposed to regularly.
Lisa had her share of making unhealthy decisions that could have destroyed her dreams, however, with the encouragement of English High staff, she enrolled in ProTech, a school-to-career program to prepare students. Being a part of ProTech gave Lisa “the opportunity to gain experience and opened her eyes to a career in the medical field.”
Additionally, she served as a Teen Advisor through the Adolescent Teen Pregnancy Prevention Network where she coordinated programs for youth about the importance of making healthy decisions and goal setting. Later, she accepted a position at Boston Medical Center’s Teen & Tot program where she worked with a medical team to ensure young parents received the services needed to parent effectively
After ten years, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Services/Community Planning from UMass-Boston and continues to serve children and families as a site coordinator at Communities in Schools, a drop-out prevention organization in Charlotte, North Carolina. She emphasized the role of education in breaking cycles and hopes her story will inspire others to reach beyond their circumstances. She has been married to Jerrell Carter from Dorchester for 22 years and together they have five adult children. Please subscribe to for book release updates.
Fellow EHS classmate Carmen Corbie -Cohen has praise for Lisa. “Lisa Carter is a fellow graduate of EHS class of ’94. Her life is reflective of the obstacles that many of our fellow classmates faced and still face in our working- class school today. Her accomplishments are also an excellent example of the steadfast determination that burns in our hearts. We celebrate her ability to overcome adversity and lift her up as a strong leader. ”

Author’s note: Lisa has a warm and gregarious smile and voice that surely must instill confidence in young people.

Leave a Reply