The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 5, 2007


Introducing Carlisle's Interim Principal Jim Halliday

Carlisle Middle School Interim Principal Jim Halliday. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)
The start of the school year is always a busy time, especially for new school employees. Hired on August 13, Interim Middle School Principal Jim Halliday says he is "getting an appreciation for what Carlisle is about," by spending time meeting staff, parents and students. Halliday was hired to replace Principal Paul Graseck, who resigned in July. Halliday tries to get out of his office as much as possible "because that is where I hear what is going on." He sees Carlisle parents and students as "very involved and very supportive. Kids come ready to work with their homework done. They know why they are here." He said the supportive community gives "a lot of benefits" to the school.

Halliday prefers Carlisle's fifth through eighth grade middle school system compared with a two-year junior high school structure, because in the four-year system the faculty "get to know the kids very well."

Successful career

Halliday was an English and social studies teacher in Holliston and Framingham before he was a middle school principal for 16 years. He has a BS in education, majoring in English and social studies, and a minor in math and science. He taught English at a combination middle school/high school in the 1960s, and said things were a bit "wild" in those years. "That was an interesting experience," he said, due to the maturity differences between 11 and 18 year olds.

He became the English department head at a newly-built middle school in Framingham. He coached baseball, football and basketball during those times, he said.

Move to administration

Halliday completed a year-long internship in organization and administration in Framingham and another internship through a National Guard program. He completed his educational administration certification at Boston College.

Barely two weeks into the job of vice-principal at the Walsh Middle School, the principal suddenly became ill. Halliday was named principal and remained in the position for 16 years, retiring in 1998. "I never wanted to go above" the level of principal, he said. "I just thoroughly enjoyed working with kids, teachers and parents to make things happen."

After retirement, Halliday served as interim principal at the Concord Middle School in 2002, and Thoreau Elementary School in 2004.

Carlisle initiatives

Halliday has made two changes so far that impact the students: no hats can be worn in school, and he has rearranged the middle school lunch schedule. The cafeteria was crowded when the seventh and eighth graders, the two largest classes, were sharing a lunch period, he explained. The new schedule combines grades fifth and seventh, and sixth and eighth grades. He feels the older students are responding well to being with students two years younger, and the cafeteria is much less crowded. He thinks it also helps with bullying issues in that eighth graders are less apt to tease students who are two years younger than themselves. One student told him it would be "embarrassing" to tease a student who was that much younger.

The feedback on the schedule change is mixed, he said, because some students miss eating with friends from a different grade. "I say, I'm sorry," he said, but the system appears to be solving the crowding problem.

Goal as interim

Halliday says, "Rather than tackle something new I'd like to continue supporting the teachers and the excellent things they are already doing." He said the teachers are very cooperative, helpful and hardworking.

"I think I've been in almost every middle school class by this point and I've been impressed by the kinds of activities going on." He said the teachers' relationships with the students are very positive and supportive. "The kids are very responsive. I don't see any defiance and disrespect, which is so important. The teachers treat them with respect so it's a give and take."


Halliday and his wife live on Lake Boone in Hudson. They also have a place "on a mountain in Vermont," he said, "where I teach skiing on the weekends with the little kids. I really enjoy that. It makes the winter worthwhile."

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito