Superintendent of Schools David Abbey said it perfectly when he called the Board of Education's meeting Monday night "our annual bittersweet evening." New Canaan Public Schools bid farewell to six beloved teachers. Lurline Lapolla, Rob Goodrow, Pat Powell, Carol Hamilton, Gail Mann and Tom Smith are retiring this year, ending more than a century of combined service to the district.
Lurline Lapolla taught art at Saxe Middle School for 46 years. Abbey noted her passion for displaying student art, "whether in Slovakia, Tokyo or Great Falls, New York." She encouraged her students to branch out their projects into other disciplines, to demonstrate the wide scope of what art could be. "Lurline has distinguished herself as a teacher who defines herself in the lens of her students' work," Abbey said. "In Lurline's classroom, until a connection is made with the individual child, true art instruction cannot occur."
Rob Goodrow started at the elementary school level, but most recently came out of Saxe's science department. Abbey highlighted his ability to make learning fun for his students and include parents in the learning process. He also helped acquaint himself and his fellow teachers to the state's new science standards. "Rob is clearly and admirably retiring at the top of his game," Abbey said.
Pat Powell, a math teacher, started in New Canaan 25 years ago at the high school, but was most recently at Saxe. Abbey stressed her ability to adapt her lessons to ever-changing technology, incorporating computers and Smartboards as the times evolved, and helping her peers do the same. "Pat is known for a level of service above and beyond the classroom, a ready willingness to help others in any capacity," he said.
Carol Hamilton also started out in the high school, and has since moved on to become the psychologist at East Elementary. In her 28 years in New Canaan, played a big part in developing the Gifted and Talented Program for the district. "Carol has been a consistent source of energy and expertise," Abbey said. "She sets high goals for herself as a psychologist."
Gail Mann is leaving as a Reading teacher at South Elementary. She helped a great deal to develop the language arts curriculum for the entire district, and helped ease her fellow teachers through changes in standardized testing and evaluations. "Her enthusiasm is a welcome example to all of South's teachers,' Abbey said. "She still gets excited when discovering new materials."
Tom Smith started out at Saxe. He moved on as a shop teacher at New Canaan High School, and through his 31 years he has helped the program evolve into what is now the Career and Technical Education Department. Most recently a Technology teacher, he was also a department chair and served on the high school building committee. "He can be counted on in any situation," Abbey said. "He is a master teacher."