Beloved gym teacher retires after 11 years

Ms. Perrotta plans to stay active in retirement! — Courtesy MVRHS

Over the past few weeks of school, physical education teacher Kathy Perrotta has been sporting a Vineyard football T-shirt which reads “We Came To Play.” The phrase aptly describes her approach to teaching over the past 11 years at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), where her fun and warmhearted demeanor will be sorely missed once she retires at the end of the school year.

In 2010, after teaching at the Oak Bluffs elementary school for 12 years, Ms. Perrotta  made the switch to MVRHS. “I felt like junior high wasn’t the thing I wanted to teach anymore,” she said. “I really wanted to be with young adults and teenage students.”

During her time at the Oak Bluffs Elementary School, she took online courses through the California University of Pennsylvania in order to obtain her masters degree in exercise science.

Ms. Perrotta recalls growing up in the 1960s with few athletic female role models in her life. She said, “I always wanted to be a gym teacher because girls really weren’t supposed to play sports when I was in elementary school.”

After working with students for so many years, Ms. Perrotta anticipates a bittersweet departure. “I will definitely miss the kids. I love watching kids play sports; it’s my favorite thing,” she said.

Her students will miss her as well. Junior Alison Custer said, “She has always been incredibly supportive of her students. I’m so grateful I was able to learn from her before her retirement.”

Ms. Perrotta has not only been an enthusiastic teacher, but also a trusted friend and advisor for many students, including senior Mia Jeffers. “Ms. Perrotta was one of the teachers that was always smiling in the hallways and always super happy to see you,” said Mia. “If I ever had any questions, she was the one I went to because I know she would answer them without any judgement.”

Following her retirement, Ms. Perrotta plans to continue prioritizing her personal fitness with her at-home Peloton bike and weights. She also said that returning to MVRHS as a gym class substitute is a possibility for her. “I feel like teaching is kind of in my blood. It might be hard for me not to do it at all,” she said.

Ms. Perrotta is retiring in the same year as her husband, whom she met at Bridgewater State College while earning her bachelor’s degree. The couple is looking forward to golfing around the country together and traveling internationally when the pandemic is over.

Starting this summer, they are hoping to visit their two children, who live in Texas and Florida. Athletics are a shared passion for everyone in the family — Ms. Perrotta’s daughter teaches fitness, and her son works as a golf pro. “I haven’t really been able to see them because of the virus, so that’s my first priority,” she said.

Ms. Perrotta’s advice to her successor is to get to know the students before making assumptions about them. “I think sometimes adults assume that teenagers are up to something, and I don’t think they are. When you get to know teenagers, you realize they’re just like the rest of us,” she said.