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AHS Chemistry Teacher Carlock on Leave Until June Retirement

The school district is working to hire her replacement as the AP test date looms.

's Peggy Carlock, a veteran chemistry teacher of more than 30 years, has stepped down from her position amid much speculation this week. 

According to the , Carlock submitted a letter of retirement, effective come June, and will be on leave from teaching until that time.

"We have a substitute in the classes now and are advertising for a long term sub," said school Superintendent Marla Stephenson by email on Thursday.

Albany High Principal Ted Barone said he emailed parents Thursday that "We are moving as quickly as possible to hire a well-qualified replacement," adding that he would keep parents updated via email.

According to the College Board, the advanced placement test in chemistry is scheduled for the morning of May 7. 

Carlock taught one AP course in chemistry, and four regular chemistry classes.

A LONG CAREER

Carlock was known for her demanding, sometimes confusing, approach, and her success guiding the school's Science Bowl team to national stardom year after year. (See more on the The Cougar Online.)

She also coached the school's Ocean Sciences Bowl team, which placed first earlier this month in a regional competition, and will travel to Baltimore in April for nationals.

In 2009, the Albany Unified School District recognized Carlock for 30 years of service

In 1997, she received a TeachEach award, and a combined $25,000 for herself and Albany High, from the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, which aims to spotlight superlative Bay Area teachers.

(According to a 1997 San Francisco Chronicle story, Carlock gave her winnings to the two students who nominated her. The Chronicle also noted that she was, that year, pursuing a doctorate in biophysics "besides teaching at Albany High.") 

In 1988, Carlock created a "Chemathon" program involving "a large number of experiments offered at several schools on a Saturday," according to a Northern California interdisciplinary professional society called AVS

MIXED REVIEWS FROM STUDENTS, PARENTS

In addition to her successes, however, many students expressed difficulty connecting with and learning from Carlock.

Since 2001, she's amassed 70 reviews on ratemyteacher.com, many of which are passionate in their criticism. As of March 29, on a scale of 1-5, she received an overall 1.7 for clarity, 1.8 for helpfulness, and 2.3 for easiness. 

A number of former Albany High students responded, via Facebook, to an Albany Patch query about their recollections of Carlock. 

"I was always lost in her class and she didn't seem to explain things very clearly," said one former student.

"She was one of the worst teachers I ever had. She was completely arbitrary, had a bad temper, no one had any clue how they were doing in the class until report cards came out," said another. "We did one experiment the entire year and she used her AP students to do all of her work for her.... I'm happy for all of Albany's children who will no longer be stuck taking chemistry from her."

Other alumni recalled better qualities. 

"What I remember was her drive to catapult students with talent into universities," wrote Chris Read, who worked with Carlock when he was a member of Albany High's student government. "The Chem-a-thon was leveraged by students to create a legitimate metric for scholarships and top tier university admissions.... I don't recall any female chem teachers at any of those events. Looking back it must have been a tough slog for a ... woman in her generation. Your life's work is not only your accomplishments, but the obstacles you overcome."

Said another, Tim Starr: "I thought she was a great teacher. One of the few AHS teachers who didn't exclusively address the lowest common denominator."

MANY QUESTIONS REMAIN

The school district and teachers union are not permitted by law to comment on personnel matters, so there has been no official report on what led to Carlock's hasty leave this week. 

Several people inside Albany High said the rumor mill has been running rampant following Carlock's letter of retirement.

A call from Albany Patch to an unlisted phone number linked to Carlock was not returned Thursday. 

Thoughts? Questions? Memories? Please share them in the comments.

If there's something in this article you think , or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at albany@patch.com.

Robert Marshall March 30, 2012 at 04:06 PM
ratemyteacher.com is generally a piece of garbage where students can "get back" at teachers they don't like, especially in this day and age where there is no respect given even if they didn't care for them.
Joyce Kessler March 30, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Peggy Carlock was one of the most dedicated teachers I've ever known. She took so much of her own personal time to help out her students. She really cared about her students and happily wrote thorough college recommendation letters whenever asked. Peggy Carlock led many teams to the national science bowl in Washington DC where they ranked very well. I'm am sorry to hear she is leaving but wish her the best of luck and thank her for all her years of superior service.
Michael Cabanatuan March 30, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Is there a HS chemistry teacher who isn't confusing? Especially to kids who don't really want to learn chemistry? My teacher in Southern Cal was not only confusing but spoke in a soft monotone, earning him the nickname "the Human Tranquilizer."
Robert Cheasty March 30, 2012 at 07:29 PM
When Peggy Carlock created the Chemathon, she inspired an incredible array of students, teachers, volunteers, scientists, industry leaders, school board and government officials to come together and make the fantastic happen. Kids from all over California came (originally to Albany) to spend their weekends doing chemistry experiments and having fun doing it. This is a singular achievement in any teacher's career, one that stands out for its stellar contribution to students, to the AUSD, to the science program in Albany and to the rest of the school districts in California that have so benefited from the Chemathon, and to its progeny throughout other educational systems. Peggy's ability to draw in Nobel Prize winners, industry leaders, University professors, other educators, elected officials and a vast array of sponsors all added to the stellar success of the Chemathon. Having a Nobel Prize winner as the presenter at your Chemathon weekend is something no chemistry student will forget. I had the honor of representing the City of Albany at a few Chemathons when I served as Mayor of Albany and as an Albany City Councilmember and I found the enthusiasm level to be terrific.
Dale Greene March 31, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Peggy Carlock is an inspiration to young girls to plunge into science. She was a terrific model to both of my daughters at AHS.
Francois Dillinger April 02, 2012 at 01:50 AM
thank you, rodney dangerfield.
Kevin Arnold April 02, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Ms. Carlock was one of a handful of truly inspiring teachers I had at AHS (class of '87). I was dropped into her AP Chem class without having had regular Chem first due to a scheduling conflict that made the first semester one of the hardest of any I remember. She stuck with me through that first semester and encouraged me all the way through to the end helping me pull my grade up from a 'D' to a 'B' and achieving one of the high scores in the class on the achievement test. She didn't take any excuses and demanded a high level of excellence. Even though I had an 8 hour final exam, I still look back on that time as one of the best in high school. She brought a level of excitement to chemistry that I would never have experienced without her and will always look back fondly on those times.
Andrew April 05, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I always wanted to see Ms Carlock, being a seventh grader now. . . i might never know what she truly was. . ..
Mary April 13, 2012 at 08:50 AM
I must say that as an Albany Alumni, I am quite relieved to hear this. Years back when I took Chemistry with Ms. Carlock, she treated me *very* poorly. Actually, poorly doesn't even describe the extent to which she made my high school education a nightmare. She degraded and humiliated me on several occasions in front of all the students. I cried and begged for it to stop. Despite being a straight A student, she undermined my intellectual capacities, the same ones which got me into an Ivy league school later on. She is a disgrace to Albany High and this should have happened a long time ago. Had I listened to Carlock, I would not be where I stand today. It was time for Albany to take actions. I wish I had said something years back when I was going through hell because of her. I'm glad to know that there is justice at last!
Roland J. Otto April 14, 2012 at 04:08 AM
In 1988 Peggy helped me establish the Center for Science and Engineering Education at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. She was then acknowledged as one of the outstanding science teachers in California. She established the Chemathon which probably did more good for science teaching and learning than all the state funding for the schools that participated. The Participating Schools raised thousands of dollars for their science programs at a time when the their budgets were something like $4per student per year. She inspired students with her personal association with Glenn Seaborg and Albert Ghiorso the discoverers of elements 94-106. Peggy was a bright star among teachers in the 90's and at the turn of the century. She was my first teacher of how to work with science teachers by bringing them to the Berkeley Lab and giving them summer research positions. Peggy was responsible for starting a national science teacher as researcher program by taking her students directly into the Washington DC office of the Director or Research for all of DOE. I suspect that the problem is not that Peggy changed but rather that students have changed due to down hill preparation in K-8 education that has occurred in the last 20 years. Parents and administrators beware of your judgments. Rollie Otto PH.D Retired Center for Science and Engineering Education, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Roland J. Otto April 14, 2012 at 04:09 AM
In 1988 Peggy helped me establish the Center for Science and Engineering Education at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. She was then acknowledged as one of the outstanding science teachers in California. She established the Chemathon which probably did more good for science teaching and learning than all the state funding for the schools that participated. The Participating Schools raised thousands of dollars for their science programs at a time when the their budgets were something like $4per student per year. She inspired students with her personal association with Glenn Seaborg and Albert Ghiorso the discoverers of elements 94-106. Peggy was a bright star among teachers in the 90's and at the turn of the century. She was my first teacher of how to work with science teachers by bringing them to the Berkeley Lab and giving them summer research positions. Peggy was responsible for starting a national science teacher as researcher program by taking her students directly into the Washington DC office of the Director or Research for all of DOE. I suspect that the problem is not that Peggy changed but rather that students have changed due to down hill preparation in K-8 education that has occurred in the last 20 years. Parents and administrators beware of your judgments. Rollie Otto PH.D Retired Center for Science and Engineering Education, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Marty Price April 29, 2012 at 12:41 AM
It is a tough job. I was her colleague, and I retired last year. Best wishes to Peggy, and I hope reitrement takes her on new adventures. I am sure that mind will not sit still.
Anonymous May 11, 2012 at 02:24 AM
I had Mrs. Carlock a few years ago. Reading some of the previous comments, it is clear that she used to be a talented and inspiring teacher. But now, she is just an arrogant teacher who derives legitimacy from her former glory and her associations with Seaborg. She doesn't teach or attempt to teach; in my year of AP Chem, she taught only five or six classes the entire year. Even at colleges, Nobel Prize winning professors who are working to cure cancer and the economy teach more than that. I'm surprised that more people didn't abandon a scientific career after taking her class. Worse, there is an aura of invincibility around her. She appears to have so much power -- derived from her past deeds -- that no matter how little effort she puts into teaching, no matter how she abuses students, she wouldn't be punished. Well, I guess I was wrong; the school district is sensible enough to say "enough is enough". To clarify my background, I was one of her top students; my post was not motivated by grievances over grades.
Anonymous User July 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM
So Peggy Carlock has not changed one bit in her thirty years of service? That seems a bit unrealistic to me. Honestly, I can tell you that if you sat through any one of her classes, at any time in the past three years - or even just stayed for twenty minutes - your opinion of her would change as much as she seems to have changed. To be fair, I've heard that when she was younger, she was a fantastic, enthusiastic, and effective teacher; this article certainly does put her in a positive light. However, her best accomplishments seem to have taken place before the 21st century. Her more recent achievements include humiliating and mocking her students in front of their entire class and failing to teach this year's AP Chem students even a quarter of the twelve labs they needed for the AP exam, to name two. Even if you don't care that she was aiming personal verbal attacks at her students on a daily basis, there is still the basic fact that she failed to teach her students what they needed to know if their taking the course was to mean anything. Placing all the blame on the students, and even going so far as to say that Peggy Carlock hasn't changed in some thirty years of teaching? That's just wishful thinking. On another note: downhill (which is one word) preparation in K-8 education? So are you blaming the students for Peggy Carlock's teaching, or are you blaming the teachers those students had in grades K - 8? Or is Peggy Carlock simply blameless forever in your eyes?
Anonymous User July 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I write this as a former student of Peggy Carlock's and a high school senior to-be. With all due respect, sir, perhaps you should ask her more recent students - especially her most recent two Science Bowl teams - what their opinions of Peggy Carlock are after working closely with her.
anon July 27, 2012 at 07:01 PM
She may have been a great teacher, but what she did to this talented student is unforgivable. Ain't karma a bitch!
just moi July 28, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Sounds like she wised up and had enough of today's self entitled youth. Too bad, it is a loss for the talented hardworking students she could have helped. The problem with not suffering fools is that one is vastly outnumbered.
Christian Madden July 28, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Sounds to me that early on, she was riding the white pony a lot. Apparently, whoever was responsible for putting her in pole position was not executing. She was advance in science and math, but someone was not a cunning linguist when they had an obligation to do so.
Khandrola Dechen July 29, 2012 at 03:57 PM
If she undermined you, how did you make it into that IVY league school? methinks she toughened you up so you could compete in that venue... What grade did you get from her that you were accepted there?
Ann W. July 30, 2012 at 06:32 AM
Khandrola... if someone treats another person poorly, that in itself is undermining!!! The fact that Mary overcame the obstacle of dealing with such an abusive teacher to go onto an Ivy League school speaks to her overall strength. But PLEASE don't dismiss the emotional damage that one can do in a position of enormous differential power. Is it ever okay for a teacher to bully a student? The answer is "No!" Sadly it does happen, and if you think it doesn't, you're living on another planet.
John Bambey August 05, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Collectively these post paint a picture of a teacher who has developed mental problems, and a district management team which preferred to mimic the three monkeys rather than deal with those problems. Carlock is gone. Years late but finally gone. What about the Board of Ed and the super and assistant super for education and the Principal? Are the holders of these last two posts not be held accountable?? Presumably they interacted with both and her students on a regular basis. The principle in conjunction with the ass. super. had the absolute authority to remove her class load and to even appoint a "team teacher". should she resist their suggestions about her conduct. If you are looking for blame look no further than those two worthies.
anonymous citizen December 12, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Peggy Carlock was my high school chemistry teacher - And the best math/science teacher I had at Albany HIgh School. I later earned a science degree at UC Berkeley with a 3.7 GPA. The Chemistry that she taught me in HIGH SCHOOL was very useful and helped in Chemistry 1A, 1B, 8A, and 8B at CAL Berkeley. My classmates from high school have gone on to become physicians and veterinarians from UC San Francisco and UC Davis. My HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY class mate was actually an Attending Physician at the University of California San Francisco. This event is an incredible loss for the present students at Albany High School. How can a cumulative grade point average be changed from C+ to A. Are you people in a lucid state of mind? I was a student of Mrs. Carlock for two years and that definitely helped my to gain entrance to CAL Berkeley AND Graduate in four years. Good luck finding a replacement for Mrs. Carlock.

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