“If you believe in a child, the child will succeed.”

Carol Lanning was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received her bachelor of science and her master’s degree in education at Southern Methodist University, and subsequently chose Dallas, Texas, as her home. (She still misses the snow.) Carol began her career in the Highland Park Independent School District as a fifth-grade teacher at Bradfield Elementary. After twelve years as a classroom teacher, she began leading accelerated classes for the gifted and talented students at Bradfield. Carol raised two daughters, has been active in the Junior League of Dallas and the SMU Mother’s Club, served as a board member for the Campfire Girls of Dallas, and is in the process of publishing a children’s book. She has just begun her thirty-fourth year of teaching and has absolutely no plans to retire. (

The Interview

Carol Lanning was my fifth-grade teacher and is one of the greatest influences on my life. She helped shape me and every single student of hers whom I know. In fact, she is famous within my childhood community for being a phenomenal teacher. Even my friends who never knew her know of her. Recently, when asked by a friend why Mrs. Lanning had such an impact, I thought about it and wasn’t sure exactly. For one thing, she made us feel super-smart, special, and talented, encouraging us to do advanced projects. While the assignments were challenging, her belief in our abilities gave us an immense sense of accomplishment and confidence. But I never could articulate exactly what it was that made her so special until I heard her epiphany. Then it all made sense. We shot Carol’s interview just before the 2009–10 school year began in her classroom at Bradfield Elementary, right down the hall from where she taught me.

Carol Lanning with one of her students

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