10 Questions with Richard Palmaccio ’08H

Posted by Pine Crest School on August 31, 2020 at 1:15 PM

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.

Richard Palmaccio in 87

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.

Pierson and Palmaccio

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.”

Topics: Alumni, Faculty, The Magazine