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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.

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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