BY NINA PATEL
After 13 years of teaching at CHS—39 years teaching in all—Paul McFarlin, Carmel High’s teacher of automotives, industrial arts, engineering and stagecraft, as well as a mentor for robotics, is officially retiring, leaving CUSD in search of a new jack-of-all-trades.
Currently the school district is in the process of looking for replacements for McFarlin’s position. Interviews were held April 23, but no hire has been announced as of May 10. CHS principal Rick Lopez explains that interest in running the robotics program is not a requirement, but is certainly welcomed in candidates for the position because the administration understands the importance of a mentor for the robotics team.
According to Lopez, much of the plans for teaching positions are “up in the air” for the 2018-19 school year. Final plans for next year are not yet developed because CHS still needs to hire an industrial arts teacher, an English teacher, an American Sign Language teacher and a physics and chemistry teacher. Any potential transfers further complicate this process.
“Mr. McFarlin does a lot of amazing things for us, and he is a difficult single individual to replace because he has such a unique skill set that evolved over time and grown,” Lopez explains. “I don’t think you can ever replace someone with Mr. McFarlin’s years of experience and skill and commitment and involvement. We are dealing with that challenge.”
McFarlin explains that administration has asked him for no input on the hiring of his replacement, but Lopez explains that McFarlin has put forth several recommendations for hire.
The retiring teacher says that one of the terms of retirement is that he can be hired for a six-month period after his retirement, which officially starts July 1. He had offered to postpone his official retirement until after another teacher was hired to help transition new teacher at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. However, the school, he says, has expressed no interest in his offer, and he has heard nothing from the administration regarding it.
Still, McFarlin has expressed an interest in volunteering his time during the 2018-19 school year in order to help the new teacher become acclimated to this unique role.
“Teachers at a certain point, when you hit a certain age, you won’t make any more money in retirement by staying,” McFarlin says. “I’m at a point, because I’ve taught for 35 years, that I’ll get paid more to stay home next year. So it’s time to pass the baton on.”
McFarlin was a teacher at Granada High School, the school he attended as a teenager for 15 years, and at a junior high school for 11 years. He then began teaching at CHS, and his unique skill set has made him an essential part of campus.
As the mentor for robotics, McFarlin runs the program and has spent hundreds of hours outside of school dedicated to the success of the team. The robotics season starts in September and runs until April, and during the build period McFarlin keeps his classroom open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and is there the entire time building the robot with the team.
The versatile teacher explains that he likes to keep his shop open for robotics and allows anyone to take part, for any amount of time.
“Fifty kids is too many,” McFarlin says. “You don’t need fifty to have a team but I never tell kids no because some kids come, and they want to taste it and don’t like it, and some kids love it and stay for four years. So I always keep the doors open to let the kids decide whether they want to do it.”
Senior Jessica Small, a three-year member and current president of the robotics team, explains that McFarlin is invaluable to the program and his countless hours of work and dedication played a huge role in the success of the team and the atmosphere of the club.
“I was originally really concerned for next year’s team because McFarlin has played such a big role in the growth of the robotics program and the team in general,” Small says. “I was a little concerned when I heard that the district wanted to scrap the job in general, and they didn’t even know if there was going to be someone to mentor later robotics teams.”
According to Small, she was relieved when the school posted the opening and began interviewing applicants. She says that one of the applicants had come to several robotics build sessions and seemed to be well qualified to become the new leader of the robotics team should that individual be hired. Other applicants may not continue the program, she says. It all depends on the hire.