Beloved mathematics instructor Richard Palmaccio ’08H taught at Pine Crest for 28 years. Now entering his 52nd year as a teacher, Mr. Palmaccio shows no signs of slowing down.
When speaking to his former students, they are quick to name him as an inspiration. So, we sat down with him to ask a few questions, including a few that were submitted on the Pine Crest Alumni Association Facebook Page by his former students.
We’d like to start with a few of those.
Julie Sasadu Derochemont ’87: Who was your favorite weisenheimer?
Richard Palmaccio (RP): They were all weisenheimers.
Steven F. Grover ’85: What’s your favorite flavor of cream puff?
RP: Actually, I don’t like cream puffs. I refer to an easy math problem as a cream puff because if you watch people eat them, they inhale them and they are gone.
The Magazine (TM): When did you realize teaching was your calling?
RP: When I repeated the ninth grade in school. I was a poor student. I was in the public school system in Newton, Massachusetts, and my parents were told that I should leave and go to trade school. They sent me to St. Sebastian, the school I actually teach at today, where I was told that my math background was bad and I should repeat the ninth grade. When I had algebra the second time, I really understood it. The first time I wasn’t interested in it, but this time I was helping my classmates with their homework because I already knew what was going on there. I was bitten by the teaching bug.
TM: How did you become a teacher at Pine Crest?
RP: I was in Florida visiting my parents, and the real estate agent who was looking for a house for them had her kids enrolled at Pine Crest. She told me about it, so I walked over there and met Bill McMillan — it was a rare time that he didn’t have an appointment. We talked. I told him that if he had an opening, I would be interested in applying.
TM: What was your favorite part of teaching at Pine Crest?
RP: The students I met. The most wonderful thing about teaching at Pine Crest was the students. Of course, the math sells itself.
TM: What was your biggest challenge as a teacher at Pine Crest?
RP: Learning the new culture and school system coming from a public school. It was not too different, but I still had to get used to it.
TM: What is one of your proudest moments at Pine Crest?
RP: Being appointed Chair of the math department. While I was here, I solved a problem I set up for myself. It took me 24 years of attempts before I could solve it. You can find the equation online in the Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, just search my first and last name.
TM: What is a favorite memory from your time as a teacher here?
RP: Something really funny happened one summer. It was in the old wing of the building before the new Upper School was built. I was making a point and I pounded on the board and the clock popped off the wall!
TM: Our last question for you is the same as a question that Ana McKee ’09H submitted on Facebook. What is your life like now? Is math still an important part of your life?
RP: Oh yes, I am still teaching. I returned to Massachusetts for family. My sister was there with her children and now grandchildren. I love the snow, the fall, and the spring. I am a reverse snowbird. I spend my summers in Fort Lauderdale and winters in Needham. I have also published a book available on Amazon entitled, “Adventures in Mostly Calculus Mathematics.”