Duo of longtime teachers retire from Franklin schools

A pair of longtime teachers at Franklin schools are saying goodbye to the school district they’ve called home for the last three decades.

Judy Lamb

Northwood Elementary School will see the departure of its music teacher, Judy Lamb, who is retiring after a 42-year career, with 26 of those years spent at the school.

While Lamb had a passion for playing music as a child, that translated to a desire to teach when she saw how well a good band could work together, she said.

“I enjoyed the teamwork, part of being a large ensemble and how each part worked together to make this incredible music,” Lamb said. “I started with piano when I was five and then picked up the guitar, and when I started to play in band, I was a saxophone and clarinet player. When I was in band, it was the look in students’ eyes when we did something well, that joy and excitement. Music pulls us together with teamwork. I wanted to make sure I could do that with others. Instead of performing with myself, I wanted to teach teamwork and the joy of ensemble with other students.”

Before coming to Franklin, Lamb taught at Benton Community Schools in northern Indiana and North Daviess Community Schools in southern Indiana. At Franklin, she taught at Custer Baker back when it was Custer Baker Middle School, from 1989 to 1996, before her near quarter-century at Northwood.

“You’re trying to create that wonderful sound, whether from young voices and instruments or older,” Lamb said. “At an elementary level, it’s just beginning exploring what sounds are when they mesh together and how joyful it can be experiencing things for the first time. The look on their faces when it works, it’s such a delight.”

When teaching elementary school students, much of the work is not in perfecting the product, but in building joy for playing, she said.

“In elementary school, it’s about the learning process and I always tell them ‘as long as you try, you’ll succeed.’ They keep trying and when you see that smile, and the smile on their parents’ faces when they see them in a program, that’s what makes my job so special,” Lamb said.

Lamb will continue to visit music classrooms and teach occasionally, but she will use her retirement as a way to do things she didn’t have time for previously, she said.

“It’s hard to recognize that there is a next step,” Lamb said. “I’m looking forward to doing things I didn’t have a chance to as a teacher. I’ll have time to travel, I will help in animal rescue. I will keep teaching music on the side. I will come into classrooms and perform and teach with them, I won’t walk away completely. It won’t necessarily be at Northwood, but other places.”

Judi Carlstrand

Judi Carlstrand with students in Santander, Spain in 2017. Carlstrand is retiring after 28 years at Franklin High School. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Judi Carlstrand’s title as Franklin Community High School French teacher hardly scratches the surface of her life experience.

Primarily a Spanish teacher until six years ago, Carlstrand’s life and career has taken her to Panama, where she taught at a satellite campus of Florida State University, and to Madrid, Spain, where she lived for two years.

It was through her travels that she discovered a passion for language and teaching, Carlstrand said.

“I was invited to go to Mexico for the summer and I fell in love with everything about their culture and became fluent in Spanish and I couldn’t get away,” she said. “Now my passion is spreading culture. I like people and I want to communicate, it comes natural to me. Once I started teaching, I was hooked.”

After getting her doctorate from the University of Texas, Carlstrand worked over a dozen teaching jobs, both at the secondary and collegiate level, including her time in Panama. Returning to her native Franklin, she’s worked at IUPUI and Franklin High School, teaching Spanish at IUPUI and teaching Spanish and then French at the high school.

“My teaching approach is discovery. I speak (about) 95% of the language from Day 1 and try and have the students figure it out. They take tiny steps to be proud of themselves and then they figure it out,” Carlstrand said. “I want them to be excited about what they’re doing. Life is a highway and we keep riding it but we’re on an adventure here. We learn from each other.”

Carlstrand has gone on numerous trips to Europe with students, and said the voyages help increase their love of the languages they’re learning.

“It has more of an impact on their vision and mentality and they see the language is real. People speak the language and they see they’re not the center of the universe,” she said.

Although she’ll continue to teach at IUPUI, Carlstrand will cap off her 28-year career at Franklin High School with a trip with students to France this summer. Madison Prine, a sophomore who is going on the trip, has had Carlstrand as a teacher since eighth grade, Prine said.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” she said. “I met her in eighth grade. She’s a fantastic, amazing person, taking me from speaking something I had no clue what she was saying to being able to understand what she says most of the time.”