The Silver Dollar certainly couldn’t have been called a “Family Restaurant” in any sense of the word. In the fall of 1905, the place was full of loggers as rain inundated Derry, Maine and the Kenduskeag Stream was barely constrained in its banks. In the back of the bar was a card game with some local troublemakers. Sitting at the table were Lathrop Rounds, David Grenier, Eddie King, Tinker McCutcheon, and Floyd Calderwood. The last two were bad enough to have done jail time if we are to believe the storyteller.
There would not be peace in Derry that evening and when the trouble was over Claude Heroux, another troublemaker with his own set of issues, had ended the lives of Calderwood, McCutcheon, King, and Rounds, with Grenier being the only one to escape (through the outhouse no less). It was just another troubling chapter in the dark history of Derry.
And fortunately for all of us, it was all in the mind of writer Stephen King and his novel IT. It was all fiction. It was all make believe. Floyd Calderwood, the real one, spent his years at Hampden Academy, not the Silver Dollar as far as we know. He spent his years teaching his students and leading the school and the State of Maine into the technological future, not getting into trouble (ok, that’s debatable). He spent his years making his mark on education in Maine and beyond. For those reasons, and not his shady side, Calderwood was presented with the ACTEM 2008 John S. Lunt Friend of Technology Award at the annual awards banquet at the Augusta Civic Center on Oct. 16.
“It seems the kids always knew Floyd would be late for class and start without him,” said ACTEM President Crystal Priest in her introduction of Calderwood at the awards presentation. “Word was he was in the teacher’s room hanging out with a certain English teacher who would soon become famous.”
Whatever the depth of the relationship, Calderwood has stuck in King’s mind over the years. In addition to IT, Calderwood’s likeness is also in ‘Salem’s Lot and he is referenced in one of the Dark Tower books most likely as a continuing thought from ‘Salem’s Lot.
“Congratulations to Floyd Calderwood on his richly deserved award,” Stephen King emailed when he learned of Calderwood receiving this award. “Floyd was one of the most talented, caring teachers I worked with and given the excellent staff at Hampden Academy, that’s saying a lot. Hearing about this brightened my day.”
Calderwood started as an Industrial Arts teacher at the Academy and developed a graphics design program that helped set the course for his future. “We did silk screening, offset printing, all the old traditional stuff,” said Calderwood. “But we wanted to do more. So I built a darkroom so we could do half-toning and building plates. But we still wanted to do more.”
As is the case with many long-time technology people in schools, they ended up in technology by hook or by crook. In Calderwood’s case, it was a conscious decision to extend his program for his students. “We wanted to use Apple,” said Calderwood. “PageMaker had just come out and we wanted to use that kind of stuff in our program.”
From there the rest is history. Until his retirement from the Academy after 34 years, Calderwood taught students. He was also the school’s Technology Coordinator but he never completely left the classroom. “I taught to the bitter end,” said Calderwood. “I maintained one class right up until the end. It wasn’t a traditional course; the kids came and went as their schedule permitted. They did troubleshooting for me, they learned software, they learned hardware, they taught other students and more importantly, they taught other teachers. It was quite popular. So much so students had to apply and be interviewed to get into it. Those kids had ‘Tech Passes’ to move around the school. It meant a lot to them and I never wanted to stop teaching.”
The 70’s found Calderwood at the University of Maine punching keypunch cards for the Digital computer the district had. Many of the programs used on it were written by him. In the early 80’s the school received four Mac Plus computers with MacPaint and MacDraw on them and his program really took off.
“Those were the first real computers in the school,” said Calderwood. “And I put them to use in my graphics program. Students had to start a business and use the course to produce everything from advertisements, to letterhead, to business cards. The course took all year. We even used QuickTime to make radio ads for their businesses.”
Calderwood always seemed to find a way to push the envelope, always to the benefit of his students and beyond. He got the state to allow his graphics course to meet the Fine Arts graduation requirement. This opened his program to an entirely new audience. Students that needed the credit but didn’t want to have anything to do with a fine art flocked to his course.
In 1998 Calderwood was named an Apple Distinguished Educator, the first ever from the State of Maine. He headed west to what he calls “The Mother Ship”, Apple headquarters in Cupertino, and the Petaluma Ranch. In 1998 he participated in Camp Apple, and in 1999 he went back as one of the coaches. Even completely across the country, he affected lives.
“I’m in a small conference room at Apple Corporate headquarters in Feb. 1998,” said Glenn Eichel, MSAD 50 Tech Coordinator. “ Newly named Apple Distinguished Educators have gathered for a few days to hear the gospel. We are introducing ourselves. Behind me I hear this man speak and I am sure he’s Scottish by the accent. Nope, turns out he grew up on an Island off the coast of Maine, North Haven.”
“Over the next three years Floyd and I would meet at various events representing Apple,” continued Eichel. “We often roomed together and became good friends. In fact, my first trip to Maine was directly a result of Floyd’s Maine stories and my desire to see the state and visit him. My wife and I came for a five day vacation in 2000 and my wife left stating that we would be moving to Maine.” Whomever Floyd has taught, he has left an impression.
“In 1989 I first met Floyd at an inservice day,” said Priest. “Here I am a rookie teacher and its time for our first teacher workshop day. He did a presentation on his Desktop Publishing class. Floyd set the bar for me as to what professional development should be. It’s been all downhill since.”
“I distinctly remember Camp Apple in 1998,” said Eichel. “There are 150 educators who’ve assembled to learn various technology/education skills. Floyd is not a presenter but every day he is leading impromptu AppleWorks sessions, often late into the night. Folks were just drawn to him because of his style of teaching and his knowledge.”
“I’ve watched him work through difficult situations with poise and determination,” said Larry Frazier of Yarmouth. “With his knowledge and skill he can turn even the most difficult learner into an avid supporter. In one situation, he was conducting what was supposed to be a hands-on PowerSchool training where he found, upon arrival, that no network existed. After a morning of having sixteen people taking turns on his Powerbook, he went to Circuit City at lunch, bought an Ethernet switch and some cables and built a temporary network for the rest of his training. Needless to say, Floyd is a local hero in that district.”
Calderwood’s impact on education in Maine cannot be understated. “Floyd’s work in Hampden, as an Apple Trainer and as the Gates Grant Training Coordinator has impacted many in the state,” said Eichel. “His knowledge of Apple computers served Maine well as it moved into the MLTI project in 2000-2002. His (with Larry Frazier) training manual became the iBook “Bible” and Floyd provided many workshops all across the state to bring teachers on board. Floyd’s work in the early stages of MLTI helped ease the learning curve and contributed to the overall success of our one-to-one initiative.”
After his retirement from Hampden Academy in 2000, Calderwood went to work for Apple for a time. He currently tests PowerSchool software for Pearson. “They brought in educators to really test the stuff,” said Calderwood of Pearson. “We are heroes to some people and pains in the butt to others. We can stop anything from being deployed if we find problems with it.”
At the awards presentation, Calderwood admitted that the passing of time has changed things but as always, his priorities are in order. “I really appreciate this honor,” said Calderwood. “I read the conference booklet and it’s strange not to see my name in there. I hope I can see my name there in the future because it is all about the kids. I owe so much to your knowledge and what I can learn from you.”
Yes, Floyd Calderwood is a character in every sense of the word. But it is the real life character, not the fictional one that was honored with ACTEM’s highest award. If Floyd Calderwood had really not survived the attack at the Silver Dollar, we all would have lost.