Profile of a principal
In 1979, after spending more than six years as a principal in New Hampshire, Ed Jerome had decided it was time to get back to the beach.
The Jersey shore native scanned the Boston Globe newspaper and spotted an ad for the principal's job at Edgartown School. He had never been to Martha's Vineyard before.
"At the time, I had lots of opportunities to go to places, and this intrigued me, living out here," said Mr. Jerome. "I got here, and I still wasn't very sure I was going to do this thing. But I decided to stay, and it worked out absolutely wonderfully."
Of his 26-year career as principal of Edgartown School, he said, "It really is unique in today's times of fast-paced moving and constant change. You just don't find principals being in one place that long. But it was a wonderful place for me to have an impact on kids."
When he left his job as a principal of a K-8 school in New Hampshire, he was in the midst of finishing up a two-year building project at his school. At Edgartown School, Mr. Jerome oversaw three major building projects as well, the last one to complete an entirely new facility.
When asked what he observed as the biggest change over the years, Mr. Jerome said, "I guess it would be that the school has evolved from a small, sort of country environment to a very comprehensive, sophisticated educational system. And today's education is extremely demanding, compared to what it was 25 years ago."
The focus now on performance and high-stakes testing has pro
duced data that drives decision-making in education, Mr. Jerome said. "I don't think we teach to the tests specifically, but what data we gather, we know is very helpful, because we can then direct change that way."
In terms of changes he has seen in the students themselves, Mr. Jerome remarked, "The kids are still wonderful. They're just a really wholesome group of young people, which is different than what you may find in some other places."
What has changed for the better on the Island, he said, is the growth in diversity in the student population. "Twenty-five years ago, it was not as diverse as it is today. And that is so healthy, for everybody to grow up in an environment celebrating everybody's differences. That's what is happening now in our school system, which is wonderful to see."
After planning his retirement since last March, as it grew near, Mr. Jerome admitted he felt some mixed feelings about it. "Who knows if they're doing the right thing? But it's time for the school to turn over its leadership and to change and to move in a new direction."
He plans to spend the next nine months enjoying some of the activities he could not always do while working, such as watching his two sons' ball games, meeting his wife for lunch, scalloping, fishing, and golfing. "Then after that, I'll be ready to go back to whatever else I'll face," he said.
For a principal who has entertained children dressed as every character imaginable, from the Easter Bunny to the Lion King, it will no doubt be something fun.