Carolyn Berry, a retired educator, is a grandmother on-the-go with her grandchildren. Known as MaMa Berry to her grandchildren and their friends, she continues a tradition with her grandchildren she and her late husband, Gary, began when their three children, Craig, Renee, and Todd, were young: provide experiences and adventures to create memories that last a lifetime.
Gary and Carolyn taught their children to be self-sufficient; by the age of 12, each child knew how to cook, bake, and do laundry independently. Family time wasn’t all housework and chores for the children, it included reading, making crafts, playing board games, and visiting extended family. Road-trip adventures allowed the children to experience first-hand what their history, geography, and science books were teaching them.
Craig and his wife, Emily, have two boys (grandsons 2 and 4). Renee is dating a man who has two daughters; Carolyn calls them her bonus girls. Todd and his wife, Shelley, have two boys (grandsons 1 and 3) and two girls. The grandsons are 9, 8, 7 and 6. The bonus girls are 9 and 7. The granddaughters are 4 and 23 months.
Carolyn began her professional career as a public relations professional for healthcare organizations in Virginia. She worked with local, national, and international media for several high-profile medical issues, including the first umbilical-cord recovery of stem cells in the United States.
She resigned her position and worked as a free-lance writer for several newspapers and magazines and edited three regional publications for residents of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. Since photography is Carolyn’s avocation, she volunteered to photograph events at a local elementary school and presented the images during monthly Parent Teacher Association meetings. Fate intervened and a year later she was teaching high school English. When the opportunity arose to work with students with severe disabilities, Carolyn remembered fondly her volunteer work as a high school camp counselor with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and accepted the position. She spent seven magical years in that classroom before moving into administrative positions. She retired in 2018 to spend time with her grandchildren.
Carolyn’s love of reading and writing combined with her belief that children need experiences and adventures rather than rooms filled with toys set the stage for her grandmother gift-giving philosophy: every Christmas she writes personalized books for her grandchildren. Most of the books, which include “Adventures with MaMa Berry” in the titles, are stories and picture books of the adventures they shared each previous year. The books she gave the children in 2018 are filled with stories of road-trip adventures she wants to share with the grandchildren before each of them turns 16. She is not able to leave them a financial legacy, so her goal is to leave a legacy of love: when she is a memory, she wants her grandchildren to feel her love radiate from the pages of the books she has written for them.
Carolyn earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in print journalism from Virginia Wesleyan College, not Virginia Wesleyan University, and a master’s degree in education from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Author’s Guild and the Virginia Writers Club, and she is a disciple of Jane Friedman, Tim Grahl, Joanna Penn, Thomas Umstadt Jr., and Kathy Ver Eecke.
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