The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 23, 2006

News

Sara Bysshe, Phil LaPalme and Carolyn Platt are honored at a party on June 7. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)

Bysshe, LaPalme and Platt bid farewell to Carlisle School

The end of June will see a large turn-over at the Carlisle School. Four teachers — Carolyn Platt, Phil LaPalme, Sara Bysshe, and Tom O'Halloran — will be retiring and four administrators — Stephen Goodwin, Steve Moore, Michael Giurlando, and Linda Stapp — are moving to different school systems.

Principals Stephen Goodwin (left) and Michael Giurlando, who resigned from the school earlier this year, are feted at the Carlisle School Association party on June 7. (Photo by Darlene D'Amour)


The Carlisle School Association held a party on June 7 in the Corey Dining Room to honor the retiring staff and departing administrators, inviting current and former students. Many years of Carlisle School history and experience will be departing in June 2006.

Following are interviews with three of the retiring teachers. The story of Tom O'Halloran starts on page one.

Carolyn Platt, sixth-grade language arts

A thumbnail sketch of her career

Platt, who came to Carlisle in 1986, has degrees in French, Spanish and Education. Her teaching and work history is as varied as the countries she has visited. Her past positions include teaching in Pelham, New York; at the American School of Paris; second grade in Sudbury; French in Cambridge and as a consultant for Paul Tsongas in the Lowell Schools. When she started in Carlisle, her class was in the Highland Building.

Perspective on the Carlisle School

"I have loved the students," she said. She found them "highly motivated and an absolute pleasure." They always seem to enjoy new experiences and learning new things. The school has been a "growing place," she said, and she "loved nurturing that growth," and encouraging students to do experimental things.

Big changes in the classroom

"Time on task," she said, is the biggest change. The teachers always had a curriculum, but the accountability has increased. In the past the teachers taught what they believed was needed for the students, she explained, without the strict state requirements that exist today.

A favorite experience in the school

Platt said she loved working with the sixth-grade team and creating curriculum with them. She loved working with groups of students, and thoroughly enjoyed "Outdoor Ed" (a yearly sixth-grade, team-building field trip). She said she used to love an interdisciplinary unit called "The Olympics" (which involved language arts, math, social studies, and science), but due to the time needed for state requirements, "that had to stop," she said.

What's next?

"I will be consulting with Primary Source," she said, on Japan, Vietnam, and China — places she has been to — saying it is a "very tiny thing." She expects the next year will involve traveling, reading, and going to museums. "For 56 years I've been going to school," she explained, so she wants to take the year off. She also wants to do some writing, maybe her family history or poetry — "to practice the stuff I have been teaching."

Phil LaPalme, middle school physical education

A thumbnail sketch of his career

LaPalme taught Physical Education in Sudbury for nine years. "Proposition 2 1/2 came and I lost my job" in Sudbury, he explained. He said he was "lucky" that a position opened up in Carlisle just at the same time, and he was thrilled to switch to Carlisle. He has taught Physical Education at Carlisle for 25 years, and has enjoyed teaching all levels of students, from kindergarten to eighth grade and has coached the boys baseball teams.

Perspective on the Carlisle School

His time at the school has gone by fast, LaPalme says, and he has had a very good 25 years. "It has been a wonderful position." He has enjoyed watching his students grow, he added.

Big changes in the classroom

The biggest change was moving from the Robbins Gym, which was "one-third the size in 1988," to the Corey Gym. "It is so much better," he said. "We have so much space we need to use microphones during classes."

A favorite experience in the school

He has been very proud of the Carlisle boys baseball team, which he has coached for 18 years. "The Carlisle kids are great baseball players," he said. "We are undefeated this year."

What's next?

"My wife will be retiring soon from Hewlett-Packard," he explained, and their daughter is getting married on July 14. He is busy planning a pre-wedding softball game, so he says life is busy right now. Eventually he would like to get his Personal Trainer's license, spend some time fishing, and travel to Ireland and England.

Sara Bysshe, seventh-grade science

A thumbnail sketch of her career

After receiving her master's, Bysshe taught high school science in New York, then moved "back to Boston," and worked as an ecology researcher. Missing teaching, she taught seventh-grade science in Sudbury for two years. She has taught middle school science at Carlisle School for ten years.

Perspective on the Carlisle School

"It has been a wonderful place for me," Bysshe said. When she came ten years ago, there wasn't a firm curriculum. She enjoyed creating it and meshing "Systems Thinking" into the units. "I've loved the seventh-grade team," she explained; "we pushed each other to be better teachers." She said the team gives each other "lots of inspiration."

Big changes in the classroom

"The number of kids in the classroom," she answered. In her first year she taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. When the grade-level teams were created, she said there were just 78 kids in the class. The other aspect of her job that has changed is the accountability, she said, with MCAS. "We did a really great job without anyone looking" and checking over their shoulders. She regrets that, with the increasing load of state requirements, creative learning projects such as her "Mars Biosphere" cannot be accommodated.

A favorite experience in the school

The Mars project stands out, she said. "I loved it." It was a two-month interdisciplinary unit involving all other subjects (math, social studies, language arts), and resulting in large models of a Mars habitat.

What's next?

"I've always worked," she said, so she would like to spend some time to think about what is next. She and her husband are moving to Cape Cod, near Wood's Hole. Her husband is a marine biologist, she explained, and with her interests in Ecology it is a good move. "I will not do nothing," she said, "but will not rush into anything."


2006 The Carlisle Mosquito