After 22 years as a teacher and administrator at West Tisbury School, interim principal Robert (Bob) Lane will retire at the end of the school year, effective June 30.
“Interim assistant principal Donna Lowell-Bettencourt will become interim principal and we will be seeking a part-time assistant principal until Michael Halt gets back,” superintendent of schools James Weiss said in a phone call last week.
Mr. Weiss named Mr. Lane interim principal in March. He was selected from a pool of four applicants in a search process following Mr. Halt’s deployment to Afghanistan in January as a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. Retired Edgartown School principal Ed Jerome filled in while the search was conducted.
Mr. Weiss also asked Ms. Lowell-Bettencourt, a librarian and media specialist at Edgartown School, to serve as interim assistant principal.
In a phone conversation with The Times on Tuesday, the characteristically good-natured Mr. Lane explained some of the factors in his decision to retire.
“When you’re getting close to your 60th birthday, you start saying, hey, how long have I been doing this?” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been teaching every year or have been part of a school every year since I graduated college in 1972, so I’ve been doing this for 38 years now.”
Knowing he was close to the top of the retirement scale, Mr. Lane said he had started the paperwork to put in for retirement last fall after talking it over with Mr. Halt. At that time, Mr. Halt thought it unlikely he would be activated for military service for a while.
However, Mr. Halt subsequently received his deployment orders the day after Christmas, prompting Mr. Lane to offer to remain on the job until he returned. After being appointed interim principal in March, Mr. Lane said he expected to work in that position for possibly the next year and a half.
“But along came my new assistant principal, Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, and it did not take very long for me and everybody else to notice what an excellent administrator she already is in her very short tenure, and what an excellent administrator she is going to make,” Mr. Lane said.
“So once I knew the school was going to be in good hands, we talked with Dr. Weiss and we agreed that it would work out for the best for everybody if I went ahead and retired at end of this [school] year as planned originally,” he added.
Mr. Lane was originally hired to teach shop and American history at West Tisbury School, starting in the fall of 1988. He became a full-time shop teacher about four years later and was hired as assistant principal in 2002.
When asked about retirement plans, Mr. Lane said first on the list is taking part in the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Fishing Derby this fall with his fishing partner Michael Stimola of New Jersey, who also is retiring this year. Mr. Lane is a longtime member of the Derby committee.
He also would like to revisit friends he’s made over the years through his involvement in West Tisbury School’s exchange program with two schools in England. Since 1991, students from Bridgewater High School in Warrington and Shelley High School in South Yorkshire and eighth-grade students from West Tisbury School have taken turns visiting each other.
Mr. Lane will make his 14th trip to Britain with 36 students and 6 other adults on June 5-14 for an exchange visit with Bridgewater High School students.
“Every time I’ve gone, I’ve stayed with different people,” he said. “I’ve had 10 or 11 couples or people that I’ve stayed with over the years that have said, when you’ve got the time, come over and visit, without the kids, so you can see and do things you want to do.”
Mr. Lane also is looking forward to more time for visits in Rhode Island with his son Roland and daughter Megan, his grown children from a previous marriage.
In reflection, Mr. Lane added, “My wife Jill has been a stabilizing force all these years that I’ve been on the Island, and I probably could not have gotten this far, at least not in this good a shape, without her.”