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Retired Old Tappan faculty return to school

OLD TAPPAN – In just a few short years, technology has drastically transformed the classroom, revolutionizing the way students receive information. While teachers from the 1960s stuck primarily to blackboards and chalk, the faculty of today use SMART Boards and computer software to teach their curriculum.

“I think the whole idea of technology has caused a different environment for the teachers and for the students,” said Eugene Westlake, a former superintendent of the Northern Valley Regional District. “That’s a major force that we didn’t have in the 70s and the 80s.”

Retired faculty members from Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan were able to see these technological changes firsthand during a retired faculty and staff luncheon on March 21. The luncheon was part of a weeklong of events celebrating the school’s 50th anniversary.

During the luncheon, retired faculty members were given the opportunity to visit their old classrooms to see how things have changed since they left the school.

Richard Riendeau, who worked 35 years as a mathematics teacher before retiring in 1992, was astounded by how quickly students can conduct research today, speeding up the learning process tenfold.

“The idea that information is at your fingertips is one of biggest advantages we have today,” said Riendeau. “[In the past,] you had to go look things up in books; now you can type a few keys and you get all the information you want.”

Even though technology has replaced many aspects of the traditional classroom, there is one thing that Jack Locicero, a former shop teacher who retired in 1990, is certain will never be replaced: the one-to-one interaction teachers have with students.

“If you pull the person out of the classroom, you’ve lost them,” said Locicero. “That’s never going to change. Machines aren’t going to do everything. You need that personal touch.”

The size of the classrooms has shrunk over the years, creating a loss of large group instruction, said Paul Miller, a History teacher who began working in the regional district in 1962.

“Once a week, 200 kids would go to the auditorium to have a lecture or a movie,” said Miller. “You don’t do that today. I don’t know what happened along the way.”

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