Longtime Island Teachers, Faculty Say Goodbye To School District

Jason Graziadei •

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As the school year comes to an end, a group of longtime island teachers and faculty members are retiring and saying goodbye to the Nantucket Public Schools district.

The group includes: Francie Baskett; Cathy Bruno; Sherry Chitester; Jeanne Clark; Dauna Coffin; Galen Gardner; Karen Gottlieb; Lisa Hood, John and Mary McGuinness.

Combined, this group has decades of teaching experience and have touched the lives of thousands of Nantucket students. As they prepare for their next chapters in life, Nantucket Current caught up with them to share some parting words and reflections on their years in education on the island.

Francie Baskett, enrichment teacher and STEM instructor

Dates of service: Fall of 1989 - Spring of 2022 (33 school years)

Previous role: Alternative classroom Teaching Assistant, Kindergarten Teacher.

"My decision to move here has been confirmed every day of the past 33 years. With love to all current and former students; you have made me a better person through knowing and working with you. I very much look forward to seeing you all around the island :-)" - Francie Baskett

Sherry Chitester, known to all as "Miss Sherry”, teaching assistant at NES, Pathways Preschool

Dates of service: September 2007 - June 2022 (15 school years)

"I’ve enjoyed working at NES. I look forward to traveling, visiting my children, reading, dining, and relaxing!" - Miss Sherry

Jeanne Clark, school counselor, NES

Dates of service: 21 school years

"It's been amazing! The kids have been the highlight of my work and I will miss them terribly! However it's time for travel, and more time with family, friends, and interests. The gift of flexibility may be what I am looking forward to the most! I am so appreciative of my colleagues support and their commitment to their students. I wish them all the very best!" - Jeanne Clark

Dauna Coffin, school counselor

Dates of service: Sept. 2001 - June 2022 (21 school years)

Previous roles: Behavior Specialist and Teaching Assistant

"My career in education, twenty-one years, has been happily spent at the Cyrus Peirce Middle School - my middle school re-do! Middle school was a tough three years for me during my teen years. I feel this personal experience made me a better middle school counselor, because I remembered how difficult it was to navigate friendships, academics, and adolescence. I hope I contributed to making middle school a place where students felt supported academically, behaviorally, and emotionally. As I transition to retirement, I want to thank all the students, parents, and colleagues who have touched my life during my career at the Nantucket Public Schools." - Dauna Coffin

Galen Gardner, health teacher, NIS

Dates of service: June of 1986 - June of 2022 (36 school years)

Previous roles: PE teacher at NES

"I knew I wanted to be a PE teacher as a 7th grade student at CPS. The women in my family were teachers/nurses, so I thought teaching PE would be the most fun. My grandmother Kay Gardner was a teacher in the Nantucket Public School system for 30 years or so. She attended a one room school house as a child in Goshen Connecticut. She was my favorite Granny, and taught us everything growing up. As a student, Sally Roberts and Nancy Larrabee were two PE teachers that I loved and looked up to. Both of these women were my co-workers and mentors in the NPS district. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career at NPS, held coaching positions for field hockey and gymnastics, planned many field days, served on many committees, and served the Nantucket Teachers Association as VP, Secretary, building rep, and contract negotiations. My students are "my kids" and I have been very happy to see who they turn into as adults, the places they go, and the work that they do. "My kids" are the best and most important part of my job. When you have been a teacher for as long as I have, it is hard to separate your identity from your job, and retirement brings the challenge to rediscover who you are aside from your profession. To all my kids over all these years: I love you and believe in you, and I am proud of you. I am grateful to have been your teacher; to have witnessed your milestones during your young years." - Galen Gardner

Karen S.. Gottlieb, fifth grade teacher

Dates of service: 1987 - 2022 (35 school years)

Previous positions: Pathways Preschool teacher 1987-1988; founded the first alternative program at the middle and high school for students with social emotional needs, called the ISLAND program; 1987-1997; Kindergarten teacher 1997-2002;Children’s program coordinator for the Nantucket community school & Early childhood Center director 2002-2005; second grade teacher 2005- 2010; special education teacher and liaison (grades K - 2) 2010-2015; first grade teacher 2014-2018, fifth grade 2018 - 2022.

"After teaching for 35 years in the Nantucket Public Schools, and in reflecting upon my many wonderful experiences, I continue to realize how blessed I have been. To have had such a long career which has brought me joy and happiness daily, is life’s true gift. Thank you Nantucket, for sharing your children and grand children with me." Karen GottliebLisa Hood, school counselor

Dates of service: 1986 to 2022 (36 school years)

Previous roles: Interim Director of Special Services, Interim Assistant Principal, Behavioral Specialist, Grade 3 Teacher, Special Educator

"Coming back home to Nantucket to be a teacher was a dream of mine. Something that made it extra special was that I was able to step into the shoes of Carrol Crocker, a long-time educator who was one of the reasons I became a teacher. She had just started a new program, the Alternative Classroom, but had to leave for some time to care for family. That was my first job at the Nantucket Elementary School, after being a substitute for a short time. Interestingly enough, I also took over for Mrs. Crocker years later when she retired as a school counselor! I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many amazing students, families and colleagues over the years. It was truly a gift because so much of the time I was the one learning...what might work and how best to support our island's youth. Having a variety of roles over my years in the school system sure kept it interesting too. There was a time in my career where I felt as though we, the staff, had more of a say in programming and curriculum. A lot of team work where "out of the box" thinking took place, which was often necessary being on an island where we were the only option for so many kids. I enjoyed being a part of that team. It’s been such a rewarding career. I know I will miss the kids the most." - Lisa Hood

John McGuinness, high school social studies teacher

Dates of service: 1990 - 2022 (32 school years)

Previous roles at NPS: Severe Needs Preschool Teacher

"Have had the honor of teaching and interacting with some amazing students, some of which I still am in contact with. Have had the pleasure of working alongside some of my former students. Have spent about 15 years as president / vice president of the Nantucket Teachers’ Association. Was lucky to teach my daughters. Being the advisor for the high school game club - including running some D&D games, teaching many different board games, and coaching the e-Sports team to a 7th place finish in the inaugural state League of Legends tournament. Helped chaperone the Accidentals and Naturals trip to Italy. Being the head coach for the Girls Basketball team and the assistant coach for the Boys Basketball team. Being able to teach some very interesting courses like Nantucket History, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, and Religion. Being the Virtual High School teacher for 10 years. Met my wife while teaching in my first year at NES." - John McGuinness

Mary McGuinness, librarian at NES

Dates of service: 1987 - 2022 (35 school years)

Previous roles: Special Education, Kindergarten, and First Grade at NES.

"At the beginning of my career NES was a K-6 school . I remember working on the school newspaper called the NES Connection, chaperoning many school dances, teaching an after school basketball program for girls in grades 3-5, and I was also the high school basketball cheerleader coach. Most of my career at NES has been as a classroom teacher. Over the years I had the pleasure to meet and bond with many great families, as well as had the pleasure to teach ALL of their children in their family. I have many fond memories of teaching with so many dear friends that retired before me. I miss them dearly. Lastly, I found it endearing to teach many former students’ children, as well as teaching alongside former students." - Mary McGuinness

If we missed any Nantucket educators who are retiring this year, please reach out to Jason Graziadei at jasongraziadei@n-magazine.com and we will add you to this report.

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