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Paul Keiner Teaches his Last Class

1/1/2009
As we spend some time in this issue of Derryfield Today thinking about the middle school - its beginnings and its metamorphosis into the comfortable learning environment it has become - we cannot envision its past success without the guidance of Paul Keiner. Upon his departure from Derryfield last spring, we lost a legendary figure who left his mark on the School in many ways.

We have all known Paul Keiner as a teacher, coach, mentor, musician, folk singer, carpenter, and movie aficionado. He is also a husband, father, and, now, a student. After 24 years of teaching and refining skills in literature and organization in Derryfield's middle school, Paul decided to follow another calling and is back in college to begin a second career as an occupational therapist. It was something he began thinking about a few years ago when his daughter had a severe reaction to a bee sting resulting in a need for occupational and physical therapy. The ordeal inspired him in a new direction, a way to use his teaching skills to achieve a different end.

Paul began his tenure at The Derryfield School in 1984, teaching seventh and eighth grade students on the top floor of what is now the upper school. With a full beard and head of hair, but still sporting his celebrated bow tie, he soon became known for his methods in teaching organizational skills. Known as "Keinerization," the method involved skillful note-taking and notebook keeping. And although some students thought this process created more work than they would have liked, it generated far more work for Paul. Mr. Keiner was often seen carrying 15 notebooks at a time down stairs and out to his car to be evaluated and graded when he got home. In the end, his students appreciated the work, and being "Keinerized" became a valuable tool in their future education and lives. This was clearly evidenced by the many testimonials written on Paul's behalf for his farewell party in September. We heard from several of his former students who are now teaching his organizational methods, not only to their students, but to their own children.

With teaching and Derryfield in his blood, Paul has resisted the temptation to cut his ties with this institution by returning to the School twice so far. We were able to entice him to teach a final class to alumni and other community members prior to his farewell party on September 28. The class was met with a packed house - standing room only in the Lyceum. Then, on November 25, a standing ovation in the auditorium greeted Mr. Keiner as he took the podium to deliver the Thanksgiving assembly address.

Paul Keiner is a man of many labels, but he is, above all, a teacher. We wish him well in his new career and thank him for his 24 years of service to Derryfield, its students, and the entire community. But we won't say good-bye. See you later, Paul.

- Diane Allen