The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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June 19, 2024

Neal Poll retires after 21 years at Whitman

After+teaching+at+Whitman+for+21+years%2C+Poll+is+retiring+at+the+end+of+the+2023-2024+school+year.
Declan Waterman
After teaching at Whitman for 21 years, Poll is retiring at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

The gym echoes with bouncing basketballs, yelling students and squeaking sneakers as students participate in their P.E. class. A whistle blows and Physical Education teacher Neal Poll calls his students in for the end of the period. As the students hurry towards the doors, they wave goodbye, leaving with broad smiles and a weight lifted off their shoulders. 

After teaching at Whitman for 21 years, Poll is retiring at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. During his tenure at Whitman, Poll’s ability to create a relaxed and enjoyable class was unparalleled. He didn’t just teach; he transformed class into a fun environment for students to escape to.

Before arriving at Whitman, Poll taught at Key Middle School for two years and then at Neelsville Middle School for eight years. Poll started his career at Whitman in 2003 as a full-time health teacher and career and technology education resource educator. Several years later, he transitioned to his current position as a Physical Education and Leadership Opportunities in Physical Education (LOPES) teacher.

  Apart from his teaching responsibilities, Poll worked as Whitman’s assistant athletic director, overseeing all aspects of the school’s athletic programs by ensuring a ticket taker at all games and that all students followed the criteria to make them eligible for their sport. This experience allowed him to broaden his interpersonal work, Poll said.

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Poll’s impact on students extended beyond the classroom. He prioritized fostering a sense of community, making it a point to get to know them and their interests.

“I just enjoyed getting to know and teach wonderful students outside of the classroom,” Poll said. “They had such a wide range of interests, so it was excellent when we talked about travel or connected that way.”

Whitman has gained national recognition and high rankings, excelled in athletics, fine arts, and clubs, and made significant contributions to the community. When deciding which school would suit him best, Whitman’s accolades drew Poll here. He found it remarkable that students were partaking in various service trips and journeys abroad while also contributing to their community at home.

During sophomore Alia Adra’s freshman year, she took a LOPES and a net sports course taught by Poll. The LOPES course at Whitman allows students to assist their peers with physical and learning disabilities in developing sports skills and fitness. In both classes, Poll had an outstanding dedication to his students, Adra said.

“For LOPES, he helped facilitate and create a fun and engaging environment,” she said. “Poll always ensured that everybody felt included while participating in the activities”

Poll impacted all those he worked with and the students he taught.     

Sophomore Juliette Lorenz remembers when Poll stepped in as her pickleball partner when her friends were absent. It was an incredibly kind and memorable gesture, Lorenz said.

Intro to Engineering Design teacher and colleague Ryan Krueger expressed his admiration for Poll when they worked together in the resource department.

“One thing that stands out to me about Mr. Poll is that not once have I ever heard anything negative said about him from either a student or a staff member,” Krueger said. “He’s universally liked and has been an incredible resource teacher for our department.”

After retiring, Poll looks forward to spending more time with his extended family and embarking on journeys he couldn’t make while teaching. He looks forward to biking, hiking, kayaking and traveling in his free time. Later, he is also considering teaching at the university level. He hopes to have contributed to the warm environment Whitman knows today. 

“It’s really been an honor and privilege to work in this community,” Poll said. “I’ve grown so much as a person at Whitman, largely due to the students and staff who challenged me to grow as an educator. I want to thank my team of teachers who make my job as a resource teacher so enjoyable.”

 

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    Yaela TeplinskyJun 30, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    I will always remember taking LOPES with Mr. Poll and Mr. Cassidy as a freshman in 2020. Thank you for making my least favorite class – PE – something I really came to enjoy!!! You were always so inclusive and never failed to make me or anyone in our class smile when we weren’t having the best morning. I’ll never forget how much fun I (surprisingly) had doing virtual yoga in our classes (especially with the Cat and Cow poses that our class so loved)!

    Congratulations on your retirement, and I sincerely hope you have a lovely time in whatever you choose to pursue next!

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