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Caregiver Resources | October 5, 2019 | By Jessica Beck

Hands On with Carlton University

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.” ~Benjamin Franklin

At Carlton Senior Living we believe in our commitments to love, honor and provide for our residents and associates. Carlton University was established with the goal of offering a hands on approach for associates to have a chance to connect with one another, demonstrate skills and techniques learned and be able to reflect on this experience as a tool to enhance their professional engagement with residents. Currently, Carlton Senior Living is the only adult living in California hosting the required initial clinical caregiver training live as opposed to utilizing a computer based training program to both new and veteran associates. Led by Lindsey Flores, our Director of Staff Education and Development, our Carlton University Instructor team has grown in the recent year. We are thrilled to spotlight their team, who has taken the time to share their personal thoughts on the growth and success they have achieved, what it means to be a Carlton University instructor and what they recall as their WOW moment since starting in the role.


Let us take some time now to hear from the team themselves; Katheryn Winter, Micki Thao, Veronica Pavlakis, Kasie Wimmer, Sierra Penfold and Eric Demuth.

Katheryn Winter shares that being a Carlton University instructor means that she gets to inspire staff everyday to put their BEST foot forward in upholding the commitments to love, honor and provide for our residents and each other. She has the opportunity to teach them new tools and techniques to use in the hopes that it will make their job more convenient and adaptable. In the role as an instructor she also finds that she is a role model and mentor to newly hired staff members and current associates. The team of instructors work diligently every day to encourage and empower the staff. Since beginning in her role as a Carlton University instructor, Katheryn has found that her WOW moment has been how much she gets to learn from the associates. She is molded differently with each training she leads. She has the chance to have deep conversations with associates that challenge her intellectually. She laughs with them, cries with them but most importantly learns with them. She is privileged to learn about experiences and personal stories that pull at her heart strings. As Katheryn put’s it, “It’s wonderful to see such beautiful connections being made right before my eyes.” Three words that she feels describe her best are; passionate, empathetic, kind.



Micki Thao shares with us her favorite quote by Norton Juster which is “It’s not just learning that’s important, it’s learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things that matters.” Micki is someone who is always eager to learn in a classroom setting but what she loves most about her role as a Carlton University instructor is the ability to learn so much from those around her. The best part about her role is the ability to also learn from new and veteran associates. There is never a day where she doesn’t learn about something new. As a Carlton University instructor she feels responsible for embodying the culture of Carlton. Not only to educate those around her but to also inspire others to do the right thing through the Carlton commitments of love, honor and provide. She impacts those around her in so many different ways from an educational standpoint to a personal level. Three words that she feels describe her best are; honest, resilient and dedicated.


Veronica Pavlakis started with the company when she was 15 years old as a volunteer to obtain volunteer hours for high school. Little did she know that she would fall in love with Carlton’s culture and how they view caring for our residents. She recently celebrated her 15 year anniversary with Carlton Senior Living and as she reflects on her time she has experienced many different rolls within the company. However, being a Carlton University instructor means taking those rolls and experiences to use them in leading our current and future associates to be the best of the best. By extending to them the knowledge and tools to not only give our residents the best experience possible but to ensure they have that same experience as well.Over the past three years of instructing she is so very grateful to say that she has experienced many WOW moments on a weekly basis. One moment in particular that stands out is being able to see one of our new hires use “Hand Under Hand” with one of our residents, a technique that we teach to our employees that encourages independence with our residents living with dementia and that can help soothe a resident when needed. As instructors, Veronica shares, “we teach all of our tools and techniques in a class room environment, so seeing the employees use what we teach them when they are interacting with our residents is a very special thing to witness.” Three words that she feels describe her best are; energetic, passionate and full of humor! While instructing she has come across many different employees who have worked in this field for years, sometimes decades. Hearing or reading the responses they give after going through Carlton University is always so refreshing. It reflects how grateful they are that we have created an interactive program to help them succeed in their roles. Truly it is a confirmation that together we are all making a difference in our residents lives!


Kasie Wimmer still finds it hard to believe that this is what she gets to do for a living. The people she works with and works for are spectacular as individuals and together, they have molded her into a better professional, and a better person. Which is why it would come as no surprise to learn that the magnitude of WOW moments this role has provided Kasie with has been beyond anything she feels she could have ever imagined. One WOW moment that impacted her in a major way occurred during a coaching session in the field with a care partner who was struggling to figure out the best approach to provide shower support with a resident living with dementia. Kasie encouraged her to consider his past and present. Together they brainstormed how she might channel what she knew about this resident’s career, personal experiences and preferences into a more creative approach. Due to this, the care partner was successful in her attempt to support the resident in this way– when no one else had been! The associate was proud and optimistic, and Kasie had the honor of congratulating her on her creativity and success. In Kasie’s own words, “acting as a Carlton University instructor means a responsibility to educate, empower, and motivate our newest hires and veteran associates to want to become the best versions of themselves for each other and for our residents & families. I have the honor of connecting with, and advocating for, so many incredible people on a daily basis and am sincerely and endlessly grateful. This role, and what it means to me, inspires me to work towards being the best version of myself as well. It’s humbling and enlivening.” Three words that she feels describe her best are; passionate (for better or worse), dedicated (to the program and to the company) and inspired (to inspire others to become pioneers in their positions, and our industry).


Sierra Penfold is a recent addition to our Carlton University instructor team and she has found that in her role she has the opportunity to positively impact all of our associates, which in turn positively impacts our residents and families and even further in return. She loves that she gets to remind our associates how smart, creative and powerful they are. She has had quite a few WOW moments since starting on the team. She has even had residents sit in on some of her Veteran Training classes and approach her after expressing their appreciation because even they learned some new tools or tactics to implement when talking to or working with others. One thing that she consistently loves seeing is the “Aha” moments that come from others. When they get it, the smile they give when they KNOW the answer, when you see them feel empowered. As Sierra shares in her own words, “I love the bond that I get to have with all of our associates, each one is so different. I learn from them every day, and it has definitely made me a better person. I love that Carlton has created this platform for everyone to learn, grown, and better themselves.” Three words that she feels describe her best are; passionate, happy and positive. She LOVES what she does and LOVES the company she works for. She feels thankful to come to work and do what she does every day. The associates, our residents, our community and everyone else in between fuels her passion! She never thought she would end up where she has, but she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Sierra loves being present for life and seeing the good in all that she can. She loves to remind people how wonderful, strong, and smart they are. How often do we hear that we are doing a good job or someone is proud of us? Probably not as often as we should, so why not be the person that spreads that?


Eric Demuth is another recent addition to our Carlton University instructor team. To Eric, being a Carlton University instructor means ensuring all our staff, across the board, are provided the opportunity to ask questions, feel supported, and get both quality and consistent training each time we see them. Since starting in the role Eric has found that his WOW moment has been meeting the teams in all our different communities and seeing their longevity and eagerness to learn. Three words he feels describe him best are; funny, compassionate and a good listener. In Eric’s own words, “even after more than five years with Carlton, I still love and look forward to going to work. The energy and enthusiasm of the people I work with is amazing and unparalleled!”




We would like to take a moment to thank our Carlton University Instructors for sharing with us their personal thoughts, accomplishments and success. All that they do individually and together as a group to further enhance our associates knowledge by providing hands on training and support throughout their on-boarding and career with Carlton is appreciated.

It is no doubt that their unfailing commitment and support for our associates and residents is a true reflection of Margaret Mead and her famous quote: 
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”