The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 22, 2009

Carlisle teacher Steve Bober retires

After 32 years at the Carlisle Public School and after having taught approximately 2,500 students, Literacy Specialist Steve Bober is retiring. The Carlisle School Association will hold a retirement party for Bober on Tuesday, May 26, at 3 p.m.

(Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

He began in 1977 as a sixth grade Language Arts teacher under Superintendent Matt King, moving to seventh grade in 1988. His only regret in moving to seventh grade, he said, was missing the four-day Outdoor Education experience, which he continued to volunteer for anyway.

After teaching seventh graders for 18 years, in 2006 he became a Literacy Specialist for grades 3 to 8. He has appreciated working closely with K to 2 Literacy Specialist Sue LaPorte. Although he missed working in a classroom, he said that as a Literacy Specialist he enjoyed working in different classrooms with all the students and teachers.

Began student portfolios

In the 1980s, Bober approached Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson regarding report cards. He instead envisioned using a student-led portfolio process where students would collect evidence to show growth. “She was willing to try it,” he said. Today middle school students can choose either the portfolio process or traditional grades for Language Arts and Social Studies.

More people, fewer cows

Thinking about the students he taught, he said, “If someone grew up in Carlisle and they are under 45 years old, there’s a good chance they were taught by me.” Carlisle was a quieter town when he started at the school. When he began teaching in Carlisle, he said, there were more cows than people.

Carlisle has always been a community that valued risk-taking and innovative changes, he added. “That’s why I stayed for 32 years, because of the opportunity for personal growth.” He said the school and Carlisle in general provide a learning environment for both students and adults. “We (the teachers) model how to be life-long learners. The Carlisle community values how to grow responsible citizens.”

One of the negative changes he noted is the cost of unfunded mandates imposed by the state. He also expressed concern about the reduction in school personnel as funding becomes tighter. In the past he also served as the Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator, but due to budget cuts the stipends for the curriculum coordinator positions have been eliminated.

Coaching

Bober praised the opportunity the Carlisle School gives teachers to become coaches, something he said he would not have pictured himself doing when he first started teaching. He coached basketball for ten years and softball for 20 years. “I got to go down to Spalding Field, with hawks and deer, and teach and play with the kids. Who wouldn’t want to be there? We had some really good teams.”

Mentoring makes a difference

Bober has also been instrumental in the teacher mentoring program, supporting new teachers in their first few years. He noted since the mentoring program has begun the school’s retention rate for new teachers has increased. He enjoyed helping new teachers try techniques and watching them have an “ah-ha” moment when things go right. Experienced teachers have a large “bag of tools,” he said, but the inexperienced teachers have just “a few tools in their bag.” He likes helping teachers expand their repertoire of teaching tools.

When asked why he is retiring, he joked, “There are days when I ask that myself.” As for future plans, he said he would like to continue helping young teachers. “I’d like to help school systems grow” in literacy and in mentoring new teachers.

Bober is also a proud father of two: Melanie, who teaches third grade in White Plains and is getting married this summer, and Jody, who teaches second grade at the Carlisle School. “It’s a source of pride to have two daughters who are teachers,” he said. ∆


© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito