Friday, June 18, 2004
Two teachers, three decades: Linda Clark and David Negrin reflect on their Carlisle careers
A thumbnail sketch of her career: "I've taught second grade for the past eight years. Before that, I was a kindergarten teacher here for seven years. So I've been at the Carlisle School for fifteen years in all. Before former Superintendent Matt King hired me, I was the director of the Red Balloon Nursery School across the street."
Her perspective on the Carlisle School: "This is a wonderful place to work. I feel very blessed to be working in the best school system with the best administrators and the most professional, highly qualified teachers anywhere. I also love the sense that I'm part of a community of colleagues and children, and that my community of students extends up to eighth grade. Because I live here in the town, I can often track my students right through high school."
The biggest change she's seen within the classroom: "Really there are two things. One is the way we teach literacy. Years ago, reading was all about decoding; now it's about reading for meaning. Children in the second grade participate in book clubs, talk about books, and make connections between books and life. They learn how to question what they're reading so that their understanding of it is much more purposeful. They are learning to think about what they read and respond to it, not just decode it. The other major change is the presence of technology in the classroom. The first time that a computer was wheeled into my room, I was frightened of the thing. I didn't even know how to turn it on. Now it's such an integral part of my teaching. Almost every day, my students and I explore some part of the world online. My students have traveled [virtually] from art museums in France to the Great Wall of China, and it's all because of our access to the Internet and the way we teach them to use its resources."
The biggest change she's seen beyond the classroom: "The idea that kids need all this organized structure in their lives is a new thing. Children don't go home and play in the backyard anymore; everything is programmed and planned. It's a challenge for a teacher to teach children to slow down and think hard. We're in a speedy society that races them from gymnastics to painting classes to ball games. They are the Sesame Street/Nintendo generation where, if you as a teacher don't have a new trick up your sleeve every five minutes, they start testing you! And it's to their disadvantage as well as ours. When kids are always programmed, there's no time for their creative side to develop. They don't have the chance to make up games, or even to make choices about how to spend their time."
What she's going to do next (the short list): "I'm going to travel to Norway with my dad, see my youngest son Robbie off to Wake Forest University, travel to Tuscany with my husband Bill, play my flute, take classes in art history, play more golf, do more gardening, knit sweaters, take long walks, practice yoga, go to museums and gallery openings, volunteer with the Special Olympics, and most importantly, spend more time with my one-year-old granddaughter, Tess!"
middle school art teacher
A thumbnail sketch of his career: "I've been here since 1975. At various times, I've taught fourth through eighth grade. Most recently, I've taught just the sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Prior to coming here, I worked in New York with special needs and emotionally disturbed inner-city kids. When I got the job offer from Carlisle, I was considering an offer in New York at the same time and couldn't decide where I wanted to be. Finally, my girlfriend wrote "Massachusetts" and "New York" on two opposite walls, put me in a chair, and spun me around. When the chair stopped, I was pointing to Massachusetts, so I came here."
Why he considers the past thirty years a success: "I don't believe you have to be a great artist to be a good art teacher. What you need to be is a good communicator. Kids like me. They talk to me. When they don't go to the guidance counselor, they come to me. The kids here are astute and smart and like challenges. I show them an idea and they come up with stuff I never would have thought of. That's why it never gets boring. Plus I try new things every year, and I include my interests in what I teach."
His perspective on the Carlisle Schools: "What makes a great school is a strong staff, supportive administration, a good school committee, and parents who support the schools, as well as great kids. For most of my years here, Carlisle has had all of those things. And the CSA has been very supportive of me as well — for example, by providing grants for materials not in the budget."
What he brought to the Carlisle School besides a classroom art curriculum: "I do murals for the school library, yearbook covers, whatever the school needs. If they ask me to do something, I do it. When you work for something top shelf, you don't mind putting in the extra time, because you get great results." Former students recall that Negrin is also responsible for importing to Carlisle most of the ball games that have been played in the school plaza for the past thirty years, including foursquare, punchball, slapball, ninesquare, and a game in which players throw baseballs at popsicle sticks.
What he's going to do next: "I've been doing art restoration for years, but what I do is not legit. I'm going to learn from a friend the right way to do it. It's not lucrative; it's just cool to be able to take a work of art from the 18th or 19th century and make it what it was. I'm also going to do a lot of painting. I really like plain-air painting, taking my easel outside and watching the scenery. When you sit in one place for eight hours, it's amazing what you see. After my son finishes high school next year, I'll do some traveling, probably to New Zealand and the island of Crete. And I'm also going to teach art privately to small groups, adults as well as kids, in my studio. It's attached to my house in Concord and was built by a crew of former Carlisle students, including Bill Sturtz, Dan Sturtz, and Phil D'Angelo."
Where to look for his work in the future: "In my thirties
and forties, I had some pieces in galleries and museums. I want to get
back to that, do some competitions, get into some shows. The great thing
about being an artist is that it doesn't matter how old you are. If
you're good, you're good — no one cares about your age."
Next week the Mosquito will have interviews with Jim Trierweilier and Paula Ewers, both of whom are retiring.
© 2004 The Carlisle Mosquito