Walpole High Welcomes Back James Connolly as GradPoint Facilitator

Located+in+the+back+of+the+library+%2C+James+Connolly+manages+the+GradPoint+computer+lab.

Located in the back of the library , James Connolly manages the GradPoint computer lab.

Rachel Cerullo

Located in the back of the library , James Connolly manages the GradPoint computer lab.
His desk located in the back of the library, James Connolly manages the GradPoint computer lab (Photo/ Brenna Manning).

By Kayla Halloran and Rachel Cerullo

Class of 2018

After graduating from Walpole High School and going to college for more than one career, James Connolly is now back as one of this year’s new teachers.

At Walpole High, Connolly is a GradPoint facilitator and gets students set up with online classes, so if they miss an extended amount of school for a concussion or other illness or if students simply need more credits, they can gain credits back through these online opportunities. Usually, Connolly manages a small amount of students the computer lab in the back of the school library. 

But, he did not always envision himself having this job.

“I didn’t even know that I wanted to go to school until Mrs. Dolan suggested otherwise,” Connolly said.

He originally went to school to be a music ed teacher. He soon realized that he did not want to be a music teacher, so he left and got a degree in communications. However, Connolly later reconsidered and decided to go back and get his teaching degree two years later.  

For Connolly, one of the reasons why he switched what he wanted to do was because of the hours.

“The hours are absolutely clutch,” Connolly said about his new job.  

He is now able to schedule a life around his work, which he was unable to do in the past. Previously, Connolly ran a restaurant, and that took up most of his time—going to work at four in the afternoon and leaving at four in the morning. He said it was fun in college but he realized his job was not for him anymore, and it was time for him to grow up.  

Connolly’s favorite part about his new job is interacting with his students. He admits he did not know how he would react to this and how he would feel about coming back to his own high school.

“It’s weird seeing all the teachers here,” Connolly said.  

Many of the teachers Connolly had still work at the high school, and he is still getting used to calling them by their first names. Another part of the job that he is still adjusting to is admonishing students.

“It’s kind of strange because I’m supposed to reprimand kids for stuff that I most likely did when I was here,” said Connolly. “It’s still kind of a moral thing I’m dealing with, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it.”

Connolly does not have many students, but he likes to connect with every one of them. “I try to get to know [each of the students] as well as I can, and try to adhere to their interests,” he said. “For example, if somebody is interested in music, and no other teacher knows that, I’ll try to get them hooked up.”

Recalling his own high school experience, Connolly said, “I was a bit different.”

He was the middle of six kids and flew under the radar for much of high school. According to him, he was never the guy in charge, but that was okay with him because he did not like being the center of attention. People only knew who he was because of his older siblings and his younger brothers, who were triplets.

“Everyone was like, oh you’re the triplets’ brother,” Connolly said.

He admits he was kind of a strange kid, that played the tuba in the band and a bunch of sports. During sophomore year, he got involved with the film festival, which became a big part of his life, and he believes it was a good time for him overall. Now, he is often seen in the Mr. Alan’s room after school as Connolly is also a producer for several independent movies for film festival. He is producing “Full Fledged Nerd” and “Poetic License” in addition to other movies.   

Connolly describes his current position as a great experience for him. His job allows him to see different students and interact with them, which is what he enjoys doing.

“I hope to move up the ranks,” Connolly said. “Ideally, I would like to become a guidance counselor someday.”

Outside of school, Connolly jokingly said that he was an avid stamp collector. However, he did reveal some of his hobbies.

“I enjoy playing music at restaurants on the weekends, and I still like to make movies.”

He has also recently just bought a house, which he spends most of his time repairing.

Connolly wants students to know that there is so much more outside of high school. His message conveys that it is easy to get caught up in high school and there is more to life than what high school has to offer. He also says to not take anything anyone says too seriously.

Any new job can be awkward and difficult to get used to, and James Connolly thinks it is calling teachers by their first names and reprimanding students for the same things he did back in high school that make his adjustment challenging. However, Connolly now enjoys being a teacher and making connections with students. Connolly hopes that for many more years, he will be able to have a positive influence on students at Walpole High School.