Clever Math Teacher Dons Costumes That Make You Think
For more than three decades, longtime Hamden Hall mathematics teacher Jim Craddock has been dressing up for Halloween in costumes that you just can’t purchase off the rack at the local party store.
In fact, Mr. Craddock begins planning during the summer months and his costume ideas have expanded over the years into ones that make you think – no surprise there given his academic occupation!
“The past 10 or so years I started to make the costumes into some kind of ‘pun on words.’ I usually start thinking about my costume in the summertime, and I wish I had a picture of all of my costumes over the years,” he said.
This year, in celebration of Mr. Craddock’s pending retirement in June 2021, his colleagues in the Middle School honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the annual Middle School Costume Contest. According to Middle School Director Brian Christman, students and faculty alike annually anticipate Mr. Craddock’s “clever” outfits.
“Jim's costumes have been so legendary that he still receives emails and texts from former faculty asking him to share a picture of his latest costume. They are usually very clever and have to be figured out, like a human rebus project (one of his classic math assignments),” maintained Mr. Christman.
Mr. Craddock’s penchant for a crafty get-up on All Hallows' Eve harkens back to his youth. At the age of 10, he won a prize for the best costume in the neighborhood – he was a skydiver with a homemade parachute cleverly attached atop his head – and from there a once-a-year devotee was born. Since 1983 his students and colleagues have benefitted from his thoughtful self-decorating skills.
“I always liked the anticipation it brought as my fellow colleagues and the students knew that I was coming to school dressed as something – although I would never disclose my costume in advance,” explained Mr. Craddock. “I still have most of the costumes in my attic and I still have to send (former faculty members) Linae and Bob Schroder a picture of my costume.”
Starting in 1983 when he was a Lower School science teacher, Mr. Craddock would don an outfit for Halloween and make a pass though classrooms to share his spirited regalia. He recalled one year during which he may have been a little overzealous in his spirited fun, much to the chagrin of former Kindergarten teacher Jane Scognamillo.
“I think the funniest story is when I dressed up as a ‘Psycho Tooth Fairy’ with a large pair of pliers. As tradition would have it, I always visited all of the Lower School classrooms in the morning. So don't I wander into the Pre-K and K room to greet the youngsters not realizing that my costume was going to give them lasting nightmares. Jane Scognamillo quickly grabbed my arm and shooed me out of the room,” he recalled.
Mr. Craddock is able to come up with the names of about 20 of the costumes he’s worn over the years – one more ingenious than the next. He cites his 2016 costume, called Pumpkin Pi, as his “math connection” selection. The costume featured a black suit decked out with orange pumpkins and an orange hat with 3.14159 scrawled across the front band.
This year’s costume was called Dunkin Donuts (either by swimming or basketball) and featured Mr. Craddock in a floatation device – thus the donut reference – sporting a bathing cap and holding a basketball hoop!
While Mr. Craddock won’t be in attendance at next year’s Middle School Costume Contest, he’ll certainly be there in spirit given that moving forward, the best overall costume will be named after him, according to Middle School history teacher Kevin Warnock.
In the meantime, Mr. Craddock notes that his 6-month-old grandson may be following in his “Papi’s” footsteps.
“He wore three costumes this year. Guess he's going for my record. Following in his Papi's footsteps.”
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