First impressions often make lasting impressions. Carleigh Wyatt knows this firsthand. She arrived at Thornwell in October 1997 as a middle schooler far from the home she knew on Pawley’s Island, South Carolina.
“That day remains etched in my memory, an indelible moment I will forever hold close, “explained Carleigh. “I vividly recall the initial encounter with the faculty and staff at the Children and Family Ministries building.”
The warm embrace of her houseparent, Mrs. Mayfield, stands out distinctly. Carleigh said she was welcomed with open arms and a reassuring smile that served as the introduction she needed most. As her house parent (now called “family teacher”), Mrs. Mayfield was a kind and encouraging caregiver in Carleigh’s life in Brophy Cottage. That same day, she met her roommate, who (for privacy reasons) we will call “Jessica.” Carleigh and Jessica became fast friends whose journey took them together through the ups and downs of teenage life at Thornwell.
“Time has not erased any of these memories; they persist in my mind as though they only happened yesterday, ” said Carleigh.
Many alumni like Carleigh describe Thornwell as “home” – a home that YOU make possible through your remarkable generosity and belief that all children deserve a place to call their own! You create pathways for positive impact and the opportunity for life and love in abundance!
“There are two words that come to mind when I think of my experience at Thornwell: Profound and Unforgettable,” said Carleigh.
Over her years at Thornwell – from attending high school to graduation, working as a lifeguard, and more – Carleigh had many more lasting first impressions. She drew close to mentors like Mr. Norman Dover, who was then serving as the high school Athletic Director. She says they and so many dedicated staff and faculty poured into her, preparing her to navigate life’s challenges with strength, compassion, and faith in God.
“Whether they know it or not, their influence resonates deeply within me, “explained Carleigh. “They helped me learn responsibility, how to maintain a job, and the details of balancing a checkbook. I would not be the person I am today without those who dedicated their time and energy to invest in helping me.”
When it came time for Carleigh to marry the love of her life and fellow Thornwell High School alum, TJ Wyatt, the choice of who would marry them was simple – Mr. Dover.
“The gratitude I hold for Mr. Dover’s role is immeasurable – he not only united us in marriage but also forever linked us to Thornwell in a manner that resonates profoundly with both TJ and me,” she said.
Today, Carleigh and TJ are dedicated to telling their Thornwell story and sharing their special memories with their two children. They are walking a pathway planned for them by God, navigated with unwavering support from Thornwell staff and friends, and built by people like you who choose to give, serve, love, and pray.
Thank you for your lasting impression on the lives of all those who have and will call Thornwell home!