WALLINGFORD — Among several local teachers retiring this year is Jack Hull, a middle school math teacher and interventionist who has reached some impressive numbers of his own.
He’s been teaching for 42 years, 30 of them at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School.
“I kept all my roll books through the years,” Hull said Tuesday. “I have 42 roll books with all the names of all the students that I taught.”
One freshman algebra student from 1987, Eric Carbone, became his colleague when Carbone served as Dag’s assistant principal from 2010 to 2012. Carbone is returning to Wallingford as principal of Mary G. Fritz Elementary School in the fall.
“He had a very upbeat style,” Carbone said of Hull. “He always taught things in a very concrete way.”
When he and Hull began working together, “I would visit his class regularly and it would remind me of what it was like as a student. His passion for math came through each and every day.”A change in direction
Hull, 66, lives in Berlin and is married to Wendy Falck. They have two children, 27-year-old Tyler Hull and 25-year-old Brandon Hull.
Hull earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Southern Connecticut State University in 1974, and spent just one year working at a bank.
When he participated in a volunteer program at the bank working with high school students, he realized he was disillusioned with banking and had a passion for teaching.
He earned his teaching certificate from Eastern Connecticut State University in 1977. He began his career at East Catholic High School in Manchester, where he spent nine and a half years, and then taught at Sheehan High School for two and a half years before settling in at Dag in 1989.
As a seventh-grade teacher, he taught upwards of 120 kids a day.
Four years ago, he switched to a math interventionist position, which meant less paperwork, smaller class sizes and the chance know his students on a more personal level as they work to fill in the gaps of their math skills.
“It was a good way to end up my career,” he said.Enthusiasm to teach
During his time as a teacher at Dag, Hull ran the school’s Memorial Day assembly every year and organized a seventh-grade talent show.
“For some reason, I’ve always had the enthusiasm to teach,” he said. “I’ve always had a tremendous liking for the kids, and each class is unique. Each day is different from the previous day.”
Throughout his decades in teaching, Hull said a big change he’s seen is the move toward constant student assessment of development.
“We have moved a little bit away from education being something that could be fun and enjoyable,” he said, due to the rigidity of a curriculum that needs to cover a lot of material in not a lot of time.
The students have also become more challenging, as they come to school with more issues from outside of school and are more dependent on technology.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the reward of developing meaningful relationships with students, and “seeing the changes in some of the (students’) personalities for the better.”Retirement
In his retirement, Hull said he’ll continue serving as a high school sports referee through two Hartford-area organizations, the Central Connecticut Soccer Officials Association and the Connecticut Lacrosse Officials Association.
He also wants to spend more time golfing, volunteering and at the family cottage on Cape Cod.
Hull said his advice for math teachers who want longevity in their careers is to “treat this as marathon race, not a sprint.”
Teachers should also have patience and a “tremendous liking for the students.”
“If you ever lose either one of those, you should self-evaluate whether you should continue along the journey of education,” he said.
Dag Principal Todd Snyder said Hull has two qualities every educator should have; love of the subject and love of sharing it with young people.
He said that Hull has “inspired countless numbers of students to love the subject.”
The outpouring of praise, whether it came from Hull’s fellow teachers at his retirement party three weeks ago or the student that brought him chocolate chip cookies Tuesday, is probably the greatest tribute.
“His experience is invaluable,” Snyder said.