By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Carol Gold has walked through the halls of many buildings within the Niagara Falls City School District. In her 40 years in education, she's served as a teacher, an assistant principal, a principal and, a position she'll step away from Friday, director or curriculum development.
As retirement looms on the immediate horizon, Gold said her long, fulfilling career at Niagara County's largest school district is one she's extremely proud of.
"I've always loved to work," she said. "I was lucky because It was never drudgery to me. I had a career I never got tired of."
Gold's journey started in the early 1970s when, as a young Long Island resident, she came to Niagara Falls with her husband, Michael, after being promised, as she said, "an eternal honeymoon" in the city.
She arrived with a Master's Degree in art history and dreams of curating major museums around the country. She ended up teaching art off a mobile cart in some of the district's elementary schools.
Her teaching career brought her new adventures and experiences every day. She taught children how to read using art. She traveled to Japan to study mathematics instruction in 2005. But one of her earliest memories in her profession goes back to one of the more tumultuous times in local education.
In 1976, Gold was living in an apartment building with her husband when one day, she walked outside to find picketing teachers. Her husband was sitting on the school board at the time and the teachers were making their feelings known about a contract situation.
"It was a tumultuous time," Gold said. "I had only been teaching a couple years. I really knew nothing about going on strike, the Taylor Law or picketing."
Education is changing, now more so than every before. And Gold has spent the last three years helping Niagara Falls usher in some of the most sweeping changes education has seen in a long time. The much-maligned Common Core learning standards has made headlines with its lack of cursive writing and focus on rigorous instruction.
Implementing the standards became a mess for almost every district in New York. Gold called it a "freight train" rolling in to bring lofty goals to students and teachers both.
"The Common Core standards are both high and lofty," she said. "Mandating this as just the newest hoop to jump through simply won't make it happen. The teachers need some time to understand the expectations. If it was simple we could have figured it out years ago. That being said, though, I think the standards are a good thing."
Another battle Gold has struggled with is the school's performance on state standardized testing. In charge of curriculum development, she's responsible for ensuring the teachers provide all information to students for success on the exams.
Last year, the district, which has historically performed below average on the exams, finally earned academic good standing. Superintendent Cynthia Bianco praised Gold's hard work in pushing the district into the positive.
"It's the hard work performed by people like Dr. Gold that our schools are in academic good standing," Bianco said. "She understands how difficult it is to succeed in education."
As she leaves the district behind, Gold doesn't have plans for her time off. Aside from getting back in touch with her Long Island roots, she wants to get back into the art world. And, despite her retirement, back into teaching, as well.
It turns out you can take the woman out of the job, but you can't take job out of the woman. She said she certainly doesn't have any kind of retirement bucket list she needs to accomplish with her free time.
"I don't have list to cross things off," she said. "But I do want to go back to my art roots. I'd love to teach art again. I know I certainly don't want to bake bread."Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.