Showcasing talent: Caroll Stoner helps Haddonfield students shine

When Caroll Stoner was just a freshman in high school, she was introduced to the stage. These days, she reaps more satisfaction working behind the scenes and watching as students shine in the spotlight.

When Caroll Stoner was just a freshman in high school, she was introduced to the stage. These days, she reaps more satisfaction working behind the scenes and watching as students shine in the spotlight. Her work in the wings hasn’t gone unnoticed, however.

“A lot of people would want to be noticed for their work, but Caroll is humble,” said Liz Barrett, the newly appointed assistant director of the Elizabeth Haddon talent show and a friend of Stoner’s.

This is Stoner’s 17th year directing the Elizabeth Haddon Talent Show, a well attended annual talent show where students are encouraged to share their talents with unique themes, with the passing year’s theme “America.” Stoner helped transform the talent show into an event Haddonfield residents look forward to every year. Starting out in the middle school auditorium, the performance now takes place in the Haddonfield Memorial High School auditorium, with more than 900 seats sold every year, according to Stoner.

“I think it’s a way of giving back to kids,’’ Stoner said. “To get them to do something they don’t normally do.’’

To make time for her family, next year will be Stoner’s last year, leaving Barrett, who has been shadowing her for the past few years, to take over.

“I have some pretty big shoes to fill,” Barrett said.

Moving to Haddonfield in 1991, Stoner is the proud mother of five living children all brought up in the Haddonfield school system. Tragedy struck when she gave birth to a stillborn in 2001. To use her loss to benefit society, Stoner immersed herself in trying to help others in and around the community, including students in the Elizabeth Haddon Talent Show.

As a PTA member, Stoner also found a way to make not only the students attending Elizabeth Haddon’s life a little brighter, but the teachers and parents as well. Stoner founded the back-to-school program at Elizabeth Haddon, an ongoing tradition since 2001 involving balloons, guest speakers and a school countdown.

“I started this because the first day of school was a disaster because no one knew where to go,” Stoner said light heartedly.

Now, parents and students know exactly where to drop their children off to a place where the first day of school is not only a joy to look for forward to but organized.

In addition to her work at Elizabeth Haddon, Stoner is also actively involved in Tavistock Hills Swim Club, and helped to bring the division from an F to a C rating by exercising her role as a volunteer on the aquatics committee. In this role, she tracked every swimmer’s time and pinpointed where improvements needed to be made. Stoner also encouraged Haddonfield swim coach Bob Querbin to help, which she also attributes to the club’s raise in ratings.

Her love of helping others and choreography blossomed from her experience in ninth grade. Stoner attended a popular event held by her high school called “gym night.” For two nights, a red and a blue team would compete with each other through the art of dance. Eventually, Stoner became a coordinator for her high school gym night and the rest was history. Until her senior year, Stoner was coordinating dances for 250 kids at a time.

‘’I loved to put things together, even as a freshman in high school,’’ Stoner said.

While attending Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa., Stoner started a summer musical theater production for her youth group at Langhorne United Methodist Church, which would take place every summer.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1985, Stoner spent seven years in the corporate world. It wasn’t until she had her daughter that she found a way to inject innovation and creativity into her business background. Running out of her home, Stoner’s first few businesses included a stationery and calligraphy business that would later be sold to support her on her on her new endeavour — organizing ornaments.

One night, Stoner conjured up the idea to make the holidays a little easier for people all over the country. The idea was to create a plastic case, within which are removable hangers to organize the ornaments holding 75 total, with 25 on each hanger, which would make holiday decorating more efficient and quicker.

‘’I had to decorate the tree by myself because my husband worked long hours … so if this could help me out, I knew it could help others,’’ Stoner said.

Stoner sold her stationary and calligraphy business to pay for a patent for her ornament storage idea and decided to knock on QVC’s door to introduce her idea. To her surprise, QVC gave her an order on the spot for 2,500 pieces. From 2002 to 2009, Stoner’s face could be seen all over the country, selling her item on QVC.

“I have been blessed to have been a part of amazing teams of people with everything I have done. Without the support of others, the momentum is lost,” Stoner said.