"The Jewel of Oak Bluffs"

Story and photos by Susan Safford - May 25, 2006

Pam Melrose (left), retiring Oak Bluffs School librarian, and Peg Regan, regional high school principal, share a hug outside the Ocean View.

Teachers and school administrators from across the Island gathered at the Ocean View Restaurant in Oak Bluffs last Sunday to pay homage to Pam Melrose, librarian at the Oak Bluffs School, who is retiring after more than 20 years as an educator on the Island. A glowing Ms. Melrose made her way through the crowd, sharing stories and hugs with the many well-wishers.

"It was very heartwarming," Ms. Melrose said, of having her many friends and family around her. Her brother and sister came for the festivities, and her son, Chris, visited for the day from Wakefield, R.I. where he works as an oceanographer with NOAA. He also knew his mother in her role as teacher. She taught him English in the sixth grade.

Peg Regan, principal at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, handed out colorful necklaces at the doorway, so everyone had a "jewel" to wear. Pam is nicknamed "The Jewel of Oak Bluffs" because of her constantly changing array of jewelry. The students keep a graph in the library of how much jewelry she wears each day and delight in looking at the ever-changing display. "I tell them it's wearable art," said Ms. Melrose.

After moving to the Island in 1982, Ms. Melrose landed her first teaching job at the Tisbury School. She moved on to the Oak Bluffs School in 1986, as a classroom teacher, before settling in as librarian in 1998.

Ms. Melrose and her son Chris enjoy the festivities.

"She's touched everyone in the school system. She is a wonderful librarian, and brings a wonderful message about reading and books," said fellow educator Betsy Gately. "I think we have the most child-friendly librarian on the Island," she added.

Many people took the microphone to pay tribute to Ms. Melrose. She was crowned by her longtime friend Arthur Cormier. Oak Bluffs School Principal Laury Binney, referring to Ms. Melrose by some of her nicknames, such as the Divine Miss M or, more commonly, Mel, recounted her working history in the school system, getting a few laughs when he mistakenly referred to her as his supervisor, rather than the other way around. Quoting former Oak Bluffs School Principal Robert Abbey from her personnel file he said, "Pam is a joiner, a doer, a sayer of truths and a catalyst of change."

Asked what she will be doing next, Ms. Melrose replied, "I don't know what I'm going to be when I grow up. I'm waiting to see what the next page is." For one thing, she will stay busy. According to her son, she's not one to just sit around. And she will be working with children and books at the new Oak Bluffs Public Library.