After 29 years of teaching at Carolina Day School, Howard Yarborough (Mr. Y) plans to retire next month, at the end of the 2012-13 school year. Nearly 30 years ago, he started as a fourth, fifth, and sixth grade science teacher for one of CDS’s predecessor schools, St. Genevieve / Gibbons Hall. Almost immediately after joining the independent school community, he knew he had found his home.
At SG/GH he was thrilled to be able to work more closely with students in experiential activities. “Kids really need to experience science,” says Mr. Y. One of his favorite experiments breaks down water through electrolysis into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. The student then puts a previously-lit match into the oxygen. The oxygen re-lights the match and then uses that fire to create a “pop” explosion with the hydrogen. What kid wouldn’t be excited about science experiments that include fire and explosions?
Mr. Y thinks that CDS has adopted the best of both of its predecessor schools’ practices and traditions. From the SG/GH legacy, he sees CDS’s continued emphasis on high academic standards. From the Asheville Country Day School legacy, he sees CDS’s commitment to progressive education—often being ahead of the curve in best educational practices. In addition to the school changes, Mr. Yarborough said that he’s seen the world change around the kids. They’re exposed to so many stimuli, he says, that it requires teachers to be prepared to engage kids in many different ways.
One thing that hasn’t changed in 30 years is Mr. Y’s approach to his classroom. He said that the curriculum is important, but that the way kids feel in a classroom is the most important thing. “If kids feel good, they’ll have a chance to learn that day,” he said. Maybe that’s why Mr. Y has a collection of more than 200 ties and wears a different one to class every day. Today’s tie, marked by the ocean, sharks, and jellyfish, was definitely something that would make kids smile.
Mr. Y doesn’t plan to disappear in his retirement. In fact, he’s already discussing substituting and tutoring plans. “Otherwise,” he asked, “what would I do with all these ties?”
Mr. Y’s retirement party will take place on Tuesday, May 21 at 3:15 in the Lower School Library. Current CDS families and alumni are encouraged to attend to celebrate his career and contributions to the school.