The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 24, 2006


Paul Graseck, Middle School Principal candidate

Paul Graseck (Photo by Midge Eliassen)
Excellence in education means students who graduate from school loving learning, Middle School Principal candidate Paul Graseck told parents. But along with academic achievement, he emphasized, students need a good social and emotional experience.

He said he understands Carlisle cares deeply about education, and the principal chosen needs to be the right person.

Most of what a principal does is not glory, he explained; it's dealing with details like finding substitutes when teachers are out, or administering MCAS tests. The principal also must learn the school's culture, the "whole climate," he called it.

"It's in the trenches that things really happen," he pointed out, saying his strengths are his ability to get along with teachers and support staff, and taking time to listen and care what others think. He said he has spent time in teacher classrooms in a non-threatening way to become better educated about what's going on at school. "If you call up the schools where I've worked, you'll find I have a very good relationship with students, teachers, and parents."

Graseck has 30 years of educational experience in public and private school systems. Since 2002 he has been the Grades 6-12 Curriculum Director for English and Social Studies in the Hudson school system. Previously he was a history teacher for thirteen years at Woodstock Academy in Woodstock, Connecticut, a hybrid public and private high school that accepts all students in the school district. Before that he was a teacher and department chair for over a decade at the Moses Brown School, a private school in Providence.

His experience as a principal includes one year as assistant principal at Windham High School in Connecticut, and a year as interim principal at the Woodstock Middle School. Graseck was asked to return as principal, but at the time he said he felt more like a teacher than an administrator. Since then he has decided he would like to be a principal again.

Moderator Alex Krapf asked a question on MCAS. Carlisle does very well on the annual tests, Graseck noted and they are helpful to assess how well the school is doing. "It's important to put MCAS in context, though. It's just part of the environment. Creating a healthy environment is also important."

Another question asked how he would handle school discipline infractions and how he would determine if an outside agency, such as the police, should be notified. Discipline at school is similar to "what we do in homes" he said, with the school working to create an environment that is respectful and safe.

He gave an example from his experience as a principal. He told a student he could no longer ride the bus because it was not safe for him or other students, yet the student said he would ride the bus again. Graseck said he had to call the police in the situation, and though the student and principal later became friends, it is important to be honest with students. "If it's necessary, law enforcement may need to be notified occasionally."

He earned a Ph.D. in Educational Studies from the University of Connecticut. He has an MA in Religious Studies from Providence College, and an A.B. from Earlham College in 1972.

Responding to a question about his religious studies background, he says he believes in the separation of church and state. Most religions teach that people are caring, and he believes his religious studies background has had a positive effect on him. While on religion, he said he's played Mahatma Gandhi in theatre productions, drawing a laugh from parents who could see a resemblance to the leader.

Graseck, whose wife works at Brown University in Providence, has two grown daughters who attended the local public K-8 school system in Connecticut. He offered some of his own parenting philosophy. "I expect parents to be supportive of kids, but I also think parents should not hover so much. They need to give kids space to grow and learn."

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito