The Thrill of a Lifetime

Backstage at Lincoln Center

On June 9, 2015, we four former Fairfield teachers (left to right Rosemary Crossland, Ellen Kuroghlian, Ginny Jacobs and Paula Sweeley)  were fortunate enough to be invited backstage at Lincoln Center to visit with one of our former students. James Whiteside is now a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater (his 2nd grade classroom teacher, Margo Boskello, is still teaching and could not be present). James greeted us after his breathtaking performance as the prince in "Sleeping Beauty".  This young man has it all: talent, looks, charm, everything.

James was one of the students who participated in our 2nd Grade International Folk Dance and Study of Ethnic Heritage Program at Sherman School and credits that program with being responsible for his first introduction to dance. Could there be a more exciting experience for teachers than to see a former student successful and happy, doing what he loves??????

Quoting Ellen Kuroghlian, James'music teacher at Tomlinson, " I AM SO PROUD OFJAMES!"  As are we all.

Backstage at Lincoln Center with James Whiteside, principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. James was one of our students at Shermsn School.
Backstage at Lincoln Center with James Whiteside, principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. James was one of our students at Shermsn School.
Backstage at Lincoln Center with James Whiteside, principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. James was one of our students at Shermsn School.
Backstage at Lincoln Center with James Whiteside, principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. James was one of our students at Shermsn School.
Backstage at Lincoln Center with James Whiteside, principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. James was one of our students at Shermsn School.
I am going to be brave and post a very unusual photo (you can send a group of photos if you like, just be sure to caption them). I went to Spa Eastman in Quebec in July of this year (2012). The visit was part of an exercise retreat with a TV instructor (PBS) whose program airs daily in this area. That's me way in the back. It was a terrific experience, and we were all surprised that one of the participants (front and center) was the Canadian actress, Sarah Gadon, who will appear in an upcoming film called "An Enemy" opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. All in all, a wonderful group of people from all over the country and a wonderful experience. Plus, I came home feeling energized rather than worn out. (Paula Sweeley, left from Osborn Hill in '07)

Exercise For Health, Fun and Travel

By Paula Sweeley (ret. 2007 from Osborn Hill)

I’ve always been pretty faithful about maintaining an exercise schedule.  Like most of us (I think), sometimes I’ve been better than others.  I’ve belonged to gyms, biked and hiked and also done a right in front of my TV with various DVDs that I’ve purchased over the years.

When I was living the very busy life of a teacher, I used to get up really early in the morning so that I could exercise and have time to shower and eat breakfast before going in to school.  I always felt better on the days when I did that because, of course, there were some days when I didn’t. One of the things I really enjoy in my retirement is having more time so that exercise fits into my schedule more easily.

In the first year of my retirement, I ran across an exercise program on PBS called Classical Stretch (WNYE at 6:00 a.m. daily, channel 25 on U-verse TV).  It really appealed to me when I first watched it because there was a very flowing feel to it and the music was soothing rather than the hyped up tempo of most other programs I had experienced.  Also no equipment other than a mat and a sturdy chair was required.  When I went to the web site (, I learned that the creator had been a professional ballerina.  She broke her foot and retired from the stage to open a dance and exercise studio in Montreal.  Since that time a number of years ago, she has developed the Classical Stretch program, and she works with people in all walks of life, from professional and Olympic athletes to people of all ages and physical conditions.  The exercise helps to improve the posture, strengthen the muscles and greatly increase flexibility in all parts of the body. It has helped people with many different health concerns to relieve their symptoms and be able to get off of medication.  I felt an immediate sense of well-being myself after doing one 25-minute session the first time and it has only gotten better as I continue with it. 

The other thing I noticed on the web site is that she sponsors exercise retreats in Jamaica, Mexico, the Rocky Mountains and Canada.  When I saw that, I thought that, because she is on TV every day, it would be nearly impossible to join one of the retreats.  To my surprise, it wasn’t difficult at all, and I had a great time in May of 2011 at an all-inclusive Mexican resort for my first retreat, exercising twice a day, meeting great people from all over the world, eating fabulous food and enjoying all that this beachfront resort had to offer.  Came home feeling fabulous.

Then, in July of 2012, I attended another and even better retreat, this time at Spa Eastman ( up in Quebec.  Not only did we have all of the advantages of the all-inclusive resort but there also were all of the services of a spa.  I had never been to a health spa before, but I’m glad to have had this as my first experience.  The owner is a very down-to-earth lady who was a teacher, became interested in natural healing and studied to be a masseuse.  From this humble beginning and her passion for natural, healthy living, she developed this spa into one that has been awarded the status of the number one spa in North America by an organization which rates such places in five continents.  They have master chefs who prepare organic, fresh foods in the most healthful ways.  They grow much of their food right on the property.  The water source is mountain springs.  So you can drink the water straight from the tap, and it tastes wonderful.  There is a brilliant naturopath who used to be a nuclear physicist and became interested in natural healing.  There is every kind of massage and body treatment you can imagine, including a hair salon which uses only natural products.  It was quite an experience.  Plus the surrounding countryside was breathtaking and great for all kinds of outdoor activities (a visit to a lavender farm for one that we took advantage of).  I was especially thrilled to be able to drive rather than fly (just about 6 hours from Stratrford).  All-in-all I look forward to an exercise retreat once a year, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone and HAVE recommended it to all of my friends.  I have a photo web site with pictures of my two spa retreats and some of a Road Scholar Trip I took helping to reconstruct New Orleans .  If you’re interested, go to  , and you’ll see what it’s all about (

Ron Abate 18.10.2018 19:41

Great that you are an exercise enthusiast. It can go a long way to keeping you mentally and physically fit. Now, walking is my only exercise per Dr's. order.

Paula Sweeley 18.10.2018 20:40

We're doing a 3-mile fundraiser walk on Nov. 3. In a few days I'll be sending out a note. Maybe you'd like to join us. Easy walk, and we'd love to see you Ron.

Paula Sweeley 18.10.2018 20:35

Of course walking is wonderful! Essentrics keeps you limber and pain-free and would be a great addition to your regimen. Your Dr. probably doesn't know it.

Paula Sweeley 18.10.2018 20:31

Essentrics is for all ages and fitness levels. Check it out on your cable service under "Classical Stretch". It is on PBS stations.

Joy Snyder 20.06.2016 16:39

Paula, just heard that Mike Hannigan passed
Away on June 14. His wake is today in Greenwich. Details can be read in Greenwich Times newspaper.

Paula Sweeley 22.06.2016 00:02

Thanks Joy. Such sad news.
It is easier to reach me at my email address which is on the front page of the blog (tab at the top on the left).

Betty Mulholland 12.06.2015 05:50

What a great experience.
Glad you were able to share it.

Paula S 12.06.2015 06:39

It was a totally magical evening. James is so charming in addition to being extremely talented.

Laurie Ettinger 11.06.2015 02:47

As his first grade teacher, I'm so sorry I missed this. Paula, you and Margo are the persons who helped James discover his life success in dance! Bravo!

Laurie Ettinger 11.06.2015 03:28


Paula S. 11.06.2015 02:56

James invited us back. Next time, we'll let you know, and you can come too, Laurie.

Dawn Hogan 11.06.2015 02:24

Paula, how exciting to attend a ballet featuring your former student.Must have been a grand day for all! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

Pauls S.4r 11.06.2015 02:59

It was really exciting and makes me aware of how important we as teachers are. Thanks Dawn.

Ron Abate 03.01.2014 17:18

Paula, congratulations for establishing this informative website. It is a great service for all Fairfield retirees. Hopefully, more will take advantage of it.

Paula S. 03.01.2014 21:45

Thanks, Ron. Always open to suggestions. Happy New Year, and maybe we'll see you at a breakfast or one of our other activities soon!

Paula S. 02.09.2013 18:47

Great Linda! I'll be in touch. It would really be fun to go to a game with you. I'm not too sharp on the rules of the game, but I know you are.

Linda Murphy 02.09.2013 18:30

Paula, I go to all the UCONN Women's games so I'll look for you and others at any games you might attend. I went to the finals in New Orleans ....exciting :)

june mackenzie 01.03.2013 02:42

Paula, I enjoyed your writing as well as your photos. Your trip to NOLA was especially interesting. You are making a difference! J MacKenzie

Latest comments

17.06 | 18:00

Hi, Yes I am still working in CT but am cutting back. Feel free to contact ...

17.06 | 14:40

Are you currently working in CT. If so I would like to use your education ...

15.06 | 20:43

Our battles were fierce but always cordial and a handshake from...

15.06 | 19:03

Yes, Colleen, I remember him as a true gentleman who led with respect...