Published Dec. 13, 2023
BY GRAYDEN MILLER
With her signature blonde ponytail, unyielding optimism and one-of-a-kind teaching, Whitney Grummon’s passing left a hole in the hearts of Carmel High students and faculty. Now few students know of her beyond being the late sister of their school nurse, Wilder Grummon. But through her sister, Whitney “Whit” Grummon–a former English teacher, soccer coach and maternal figure at Carmel High–maintains a legacy on and off campus after her passing in 2018.
There’s a reason why Wilder Grummon does not go by “Ms.” Grummon. Picking up a teaching position at the high school in 2010, Whitney taught six English classes. She was a staunch activist and lively woman, exploding with personality tucked into a small frame. Wilder describes her sister as a force, the original Ms. Grummon, and she wants to maintain that, taking the job at the high school in 2020 to live in the presence of her sister. She describes her job as a form of therapy.
“It keeps me closer to her because this was her home away from home for so long and so many people that are still here were friends with her,” Wilder explains.
Principal’s secretary Lisa Brazil paints Whitney as a woman with joie de vivre, a joy for living, taking academics seriously while being a genuine friend of many students. Beyond physical appearance, the two shared a constant undertone of playful sassiness and their love for people. Steven Russell, a CHS art teacher who coached soccer with Whitney, describes the two as kindred spirits with warm energy of the same mind.
An avid concert-goer, specifically to bluegrass and the Grateful Dead shows–but really any live music–Whitney was the epitome of work hard and play hard. While faculty and students were aware of her dedication to music, Wilder draws Whitney’s love for it back to their childhood in New Canaan, Connecticut. It was one of their first points of strong connection.
“Once I went to school and she was at school we would meet up in the summers and go see Dead shows together and travel,” recalls Wilder, describing Whitney as the quintessential older sister: a fierce protector and friend. “She was much more dedicated than I was…. I had her on such a pedestal for pretty much my whole life.”
Jason Maas-Baldwin, a science teacher at CHS, says that the two are old souls and free spirits who stand for what they believe in and refuse to stand for what they believe is wrong. Connor Grummon, nephew of “Auntie Piglet,” knows his mother and knew his aunt as both powerful and passionate women, both inheriting a maternal love for Carmel High students and faculty whether it be in the nurse’s office or in Room 21.
“From my perspective, Whitney was quiet and introverted, but in the classroom she was on stage,” explains Wilder, adding that it wasn’t that Whitney wasn’t authentic, but that her fun-loving nature was accentuated in the school setting.
The spirit of Whitney never truly died, as Maas-Baldwin explains that although Whitney may not be known on a first name basis by students anymore, she lives on through her family. Whitney Grummon was a woman who never ceases to impact people.