Remembering Jack Culbert

Longtime Staples High School social studies teacher, and later Westport Public Schools director of technology Jack Culbert, died last week. He was 80 years old.

Culbert enjoyed sailing, fly fishing, and telling tales of his years at boarding school, his rabble-rousing days at the University of Connecticut, and countless ending adventures.

His obituary notes; “His cup was full, his heart was warm, and his course was strong.”

Culbert is survived by his daughter Susan Culbert Woolard of Virginia; his son Adam of West Hartford, his daughter Lisa Miller of New York, and 4 grandchildren. His wife Deanna died last year.

Jack Culbert, in the Staples High School 1997 yeaarbook.

Honor Heath recalls Culbert — who taught social studies for 39 years — as “a standout in an amazing generation of teachers at Staples. He already had the nickname Jumpin’ Jack Culbert when I took him for Government in 1974-75, and it was easy to believe he might have been born in a cross-fire hurricane.

“He seemed to be in perpetual motion in his double-sized classroom, and he led a deep dive into political and societal issues that went far beyond any traditional idea of civics. Anthony Lewis of The New York Times visited Staples in 1976, and urged the faculty to prepare students for an increasingly complex future by teaching them to think analytically and question assumptions.

“At the time, I thought it was pretty funny since it sounded a lot like Jack’s class the year before.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Friends of Fernridge Park, PO Box 279282, West Hartford, CT 06127, or online here. To leave online condolences or read a full obituary, click here.

8 responses to “Remembering Jack Culbert

  1. So darn sorry to hear this,Jack Culbert was a great teacher, and although we have very different political views he was a rip to watch, listen and learn from.

  2. A nice man and a great teacher.

  3. Jennie G. Pickering

    I’m so sad !! Loved Jack so much – went camping with him on Staples environmental studies trips, great teacher… such a great guy and was not at all uptight when everyone else was …rip

  4. I had Jack Colbert as a teacher at Staples High School. We were blessed to have a great group of teachers, of which he was one. I always appreciated his wisdom and wit. Condolences to his family.

  5. Jumping Jack Culbert – what a great teacher and what wonderful memories. Together with Dave Laponsie and Eliot Kraus in the lower level of the 9
    Building; they made the social studies department
    an amazing place to hang out and a great place to learn. The world is a lesser place without him.

  6. Jack was above all a real gentleman.

    As a Board of Education member and member of the District’s Strategic Technology Committee, I worked with him for years in early days of the Westport School’s journey from essentially little to no technology use for educational purposes to defining the path that has made Westport Schools a trailblazer in making technology a powerful enabler of teaching and learning.
    Jack constantly had the vision, the energy, and the passion to make a difference. He also had the ability to “hold your hand” to help us all on this journey.
    Westport owes Jack a great debt of gratitude.

  7. David Squires (Staples ‘75)

    Loved Jumpin’ Jack C! Old school teacher that made learning fun! I clearly remember him teaching an entire Social Studies Class from his knees! I’m not quite sure why…. but i can still picture him, and smile!

    • Dave – that’s awesome. Now that you mention it, he did teach from his knees from time to time. LOL. Thanks for sharing your memory. Hope you’re doing well. Your old neighbor, Jay

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