By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – Kerry Ciccone, Cara Lynch and Colleen Morin have even more in common than being the only third-grade teachers currently at Annie E. Fales Elementary School. Each attended Fales as a student.
Furthermore, each has a longtime connection with Superintendent Marianne O”Connor. Ciccone and Lynch were hired by O”Connor when she was the principal at Fales. When O”Connor was a teacher there, Morin was a student in her classroom. After a more recent chance meeting with O”Connor, Morin joined Fales as a special education paraprofessional at the time.
“I bumped into Marianne O”Connor at the gym of all places,” Morin relayed. “She said Fales might have openings.”
That's when Morin returned to Fales for her second time.
“I had been in Kerry's classroom for one of my observations as part of college,” she explained. “It all came full circle, but it wasn's planned.”
Ciccone began at Fales as a substitute teacher. Lynch started in the school's computer lab.
Fate brought the three of them back to Fales with some changes since they attended as students. The school now includes kindergarten through third grade. It was grades one through five when Ciccone attended.
“The students are amazed to hear that I actually went to Fales from first to fifth grade,” she said. “I tell them that Westborough was a much smaller town then.”
When Lynch and Morin attended Fales, it included grades one through four.
“I was in the last fourth-grade class at Fales,” Morin noted.
They also remember other differences between then and now.
“It was very teacher-centered then,” Lynch said. “I always remember being seated at my desk in rows, staring up at the teacher. We were always facing the board. Whereas now, the kids and I are at our desks less often. Now, the only time we'se in rows is when we do testing.”
Ciccone added, “Classrooms in general look so much different now. They'se more colorful.”
Morin cites the biggest difference being a more demanding curriculum.
“Kids have to do so much more at younger age now,” she said. “It's not only in Westborough; it's the state. When we went into kindergarten, maybe you knew some letters but you weren's reading. Now they are expected to read early. We had a lot more playtime.”
The playtime and involvement of the school's families are among the favorite memories for Lynch.
“We had the Fun Space,” she recalled. “The parents got together and built this huge wooden structure at the whole side of the hill. It was amazing. All the parents pitched in and I remember my dad helping to build it.”
Ciccone enjoyed a particular activity in physical education class.
“The PE teacher who was here used to do a big obstacle course called the alligator pit,” she said. “We all looked forward to that every year.”
Morin appreciated the educational projects.
“We did a play about the Mayflower,” she said. “They made the whole set and traditional costumes. And you were partnered up with somebody, which was a big deal because you had a husband or a wife in second grade.”
They also see common traits between the past and present at Fales.
“The families are really supportive of the school,” Lynch said.
“It's a great atmosphere to work in,” Ciccone added. “People help and care about each other.”
Morin has fond memories of her four teachers at Fales.
“These teachers made me want to go into education,” she said. “From what I see of our co-workers now, they foster that same kind of community and caring toward their students.”