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Ms. Castle leaves behind legacy of ‘putting students first’

Ms.Castle, 71, taught culinary arts at Parkdale for over 20 years and was one of those teachers who went the extra mile for her students, both in and beyond the classroom, including helping them win culinary scholarships and even balance a checkbook.

While Ms. Castle taught at Parkdale for over 20 years, she was a culinary arts teacher for almost 50.

“Most teachers can retire at 30 years, and most people do,” said Mrs. Bistransin, who was a mentee of Ms. Castle. “[But] she loved teaching. This was her life.”

Growing up on a farm in Laurel, her mother taught her lessons in sewing, cooking, and properly setting the table, which led her to the University of Maryland where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Home Economics.

Even back when Ms. Castle taught home ec at Nicholas Orem Middle School, she was known for serving as a mentor to young teachers still finding their way.

“I was fresh out of college struggling to teach middle school home ec. in a new state with a strange curriculum [and] my supervisor sent me to spend a day with Darlene Castle,’’ said Mrs. Bistransin. “She opened up her file drawer and said ‘take whatever you want, just leave me a copy.’”

Mrs. Bistransin wasn’t the only one to come in contact with Ms. Castle and leave with a wealth of knowledge and a friend for life.  In her half-century of teaching, Ms. Castle served as a mentor for teachers across the county, helping them develop lesson plans, curriculum and classroom management strategies.  Working with all Foods and Nutrition teachers in the county, she helped to develop lesson plans, curriculum, and classroom management skills by allowing them to come into her classroom and implement her methods in a real classroom setting.

Ms. Castle lived out her motto of “Students First” at Parkdale most notably by bringing the ProStart program to the PGCPS. She frequently showcased the skills of her ProStart students by having them cater numerous Parkdale events, including events for the National Honors Society and the Capital One banking program.

While she was in the hospital, many of her students wrote her get well cards, and many mentioned how they always looked forward to class.

“Because of you, I chose a career in culinary arts,” said one student in their card. “You saw the potential in me that I didn’t and you always pushed me to do my best.”

Despite her own successes and personal struggles, it was the students’ achievements that meant most.

“She was always staying late. She was sick and still coming in,” said art teacher Mr. Twine. “She would still teach [her students] what to do and how to do it even if she was not feeling the best.”

On November 9, Ms. Castle passed away, leaving behind a 50-year-long legacy of inspiration, mentorship and guidance to her students, colleagues, and anyone else lucky enough to meet her.

Mr. Twine (left) and Mrs. Bistransin (right) enjoyed indulging in after-school crab feasts with their colleague and friend, Ms. Castle (center).