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Vipperman set to retire from Carlisle
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Anne Vipperman, shown at left in front of Pannill-Walker Hall at Carlisle School, will retire from the school at the end of June. Vipperman has worked at Carlisle in various capacities for more than three decades. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, June 2, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Anne Vipperman, an administrator and teacher at Carlisle School for more than three decades, will retire at the end of June.

For the last seven years, she has been Carlisle’s director of advancement, in charge of fund-raising. Before that, she was lower division director for 25 years (1981-2006), interim head of school for one year (1983-84) and assistant head of school for eight years (1983-91). She also taught many of her years at Carlisle.

There’s a picture frame in her office that reads, “Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often.”

Vipperman said that’s pretty much her motto, and she hopes that philosophy has carried over to her work at Carlisle.

She said Carlisle “helped me through one of the darkest periods in my life.”

“My husband (Archie W. Vipperman) died unexpectedly in 1997 in a mid-air plane crash,” she explained.

As she tried to cope with the tragedy, she said, “It (Carlisle) saved my life. It made me get up and go to work. It gave me a purpose in life.”

That experience made her value Carlisle even more than she had before, she said.

The tragedy showed her that life is valuable, very fragile and that one should live life to the fullest every minute, she said,

“People plan their lives so carefully, but they don’t know what’s right around the corner,” she said.

Her husband used to say, “There are no guarantees in life, only opportunities,” Vipperman said.

She has tried to use opportunities available to her to help children learn and develop and to help Carlisle flourish.

Asked to describe herself, Vipperman said, “I’m an optimist. I’m the type that will make lemonade out of lemons. I don’t get upset easily. Usually I’m calm and even-tempered. That has served me well (over the years). You can’t get upset about things. You have to deal with them.”

One of the biggest challenges during her 35 years at Carlisle, she said, occurred two weeks before the start of the 1983-84 school year was to begin, when the head of school resigned. Enrollment had declined.

Vipperman was appointed interim head of school for a year. She said she thought she had a successful year in that post. The school ended the year with a balanced budget, and Dick Hensley was hired as the new head of school. That was a turning point for Carlisle, she said.

Another memorable challenge was when the lower division building burned to the ground during the summer of 1982. Vipperman spent the rest of that summer shifting things around so there would be classroom space and ordering supplies and equipment.

“We made it,” opening on time for the beginning of the next school year, she recalled.

Another challenge she faced was transitioning from lower school director to director of advancement. That required a different skill set, and Vipperman had never thought she would be in a position to ask people for gifts of money.

“I found that I could do the job. I have enjoyed it,” she said. She added she was helped by the fact that “I know so many people in the community,” including alumni and their families.

During her tenure as director of advancement or development, annual donations have increased from about $200,000 to about $400,000, she said.

Among the other accomplishments from her career that she mentioned were that she started a science lab program for students in grades 1-5.

“I really loved teaching the science labs — the hands-on activities. It was like play. They (students) were learning without realizing they were learning, which is the best type of learning,” she said.

In addition to science labs, Vipperman taught fifth grade, seventh-grade history, world geography and German at various times.

Another of Vipperman’s accomplishments was heading Carlisle’s accreditation committee for all 25 years she was lower division director, making sure Carlisle was accredited by accreditation agencies, she said.

Among other things, she also co-chaired the 1994 Strategic Planning Committee that resulted in construction of a new building.

“I hope I’ve made a difference when it’s all said and done,” she said of her tenure at Carlisle.

“I always tried to be fair in dealing with colleagues as well as students. I tried to always see both sides of an issue before making a decision,” she said.

Vipperman has seen many changes at Carlisle over the years. The school increased its enrollment; added preschool and kindergarten; added a middle division; began accepting international students and purchased two boarding homes; and added campus locations in Chatham and Danville, which will be combined this fall.

Vipperman started and supervised Carlisle’s Danville School preschool-kindergarten program from 2003-06.

Her two children, Analisa O’Toole of Martinsville and Joseph M. Vipperman of Greensboro, N.C., graduated from Carlisle, and one of her grandchildren, Caroline O’Toole, is an eighth-grader there. Analisa O’Toole is a kindergarten teacher at Carlisle.

During retirement, Vipperman plans to flower-garden, read (she likes primarily fiction) and continue traveling domestically and internationally, among other things.

Her upcoming marriage to Dr. Gene Madonia, a Martinsville neurologist, is scheduled for June 28.


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