by Rebecca Shwartz
Paul D’Alessandro is retiring this year after working at Hudson High for 32 years, teaching the workshop class that began along with his career.
“I’ve been working in public schools for 36 years, and it’s not as common now for teachers to work at one place for their entire career, but I chose to work here for these past 32 years,” D’Alessandro says.
“David Quinn told me ‘Oh, you should work here, they need someone to run vocational classes,’ so I took his advice and applied,” D’Alessandro says. It had started out as a dropout prevention class called STRIVE, convincing students who were thinking of dropping out to stay and attend the class. It became something much more than that as the years went by.
After he graduated with a Special Education degree, D’Alessandro was hired as a special education teacher to teach vocational skills, thus creating the workshop class. The class, now connected through the Carpenters’ Union Training Facility, would help students prepare for entering that vocation.
“It’s amazing, watching them grow from knowing nothing about building to keeping an eye on them as they make their own cabinets,” D’Alessandro says. “My students usually go into the field of carpentry and woodworking, either working the wood or planning constructions.”
D’Alessandro has built many different products for customers with the help of his classes, ranging from barn doors to wardrobes and cabinets.
Since D’Alessandro is retiring, the future of the workshop is unclear. “It’s up in the air, what’s going to happen with the workshop class, but students won’t be able to get training before going to the facility.”
In addition to starting the workshop, D’Alessandro has been involved in other important school programs, such as coteaching. The STRIVE class came to an end five years ago due to the fact that students weren’t passing MCAS. At that point D’Alessandro re-entered the classroom. When coteaching, a program that brought special education and regular education teachers together in the classroom, started, D’Alessandro taught with English teacher Shane McArdle and physics teacher Kate Chatellier. He taught Academic Support and two classes of woodworking as well.
“Even though I’m retiring, every moment here was memorable for me; every success and failure, teaching with McArdle, and all the years I spent here,” he said.
“He’s a great guy, and I’m going to miss him,” McArdle said. “He helped me build a shed, built an adjustable stool for my three year old. He’s great.”
“This was a great ride,” D’Alessandro said, “and it’s something I won’t forget.”