Students, teachers deserve more

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To the Editor:

I have been a Tisbury resident my entire life. I was born in this hospital. I went through Tisbury School as a student and I have great memories of my years there. My family has lived in the Tisbury School world for many years. A total of four generations of my immediate family have attended Tisbury, including my mother, my children, my grandchildren, and me. This includes my three older sisters, as well.

My family has been engaged with the school for reasons other than being students, though. Ruth Stiller, my mother, was one of the first students who, in 1929, proudly walked from their old school on Center Street, now the tennis courts, up the street to their spanking new school. As an adult she worked in the principal’s office for 25 years, through some great, some good, and one not-so-good principal.

Many years after my mother retired, my wife, Janet Stiller, began working there as a teaching aid. That morphed into becoming a fulltime Language Arts teacher who was truly loved by the students of the 5th and 6th grades. She created Biography Night, a massive undertaking

with students in costume speaking as the person whose biography they’d read. These kids still remember this well into their 30’s. She retired recently after having worked the same number of years as my mother did, 25.

To me, that building was like walking into a castle daily. Incredibly, it seems mostly the same as when I attended. I admit, I enjoyed a privilege that made the school so much more special. My mother had the key and often was the only one working on a Saturday or late on school days. Now it’s my grandchildren stepping in. My grandson just finished first grade and his younger sister will attend in another year. They are both smart kids who are so ready to learn.

Your kids, grandkids, and future generations should have the school they deserve. This is a once-in-a-generation vote to ensure that our very young are surrounded by a wonderful environment five days a week for years to come. The high quality teachers of the school deserve more. Allow them to educate the kids without worrying about leaking ceilings and crumbling walls. Heck, the school was already old when I attended in the 1960’s.

Yes, I realize that the old school will be gone once renovations begin, that’s the definition of gutting and that is what’s needed. That’s okay. As I understand it, the façade facing West William Street will be preserved. I appreciate that I can continue to look up at that traditional red brick school. Yes, it will cost. Hopefully, some private and government funds may be obtained. This town needs to unite and back a great thing. Let’s put Tisbury back on the map and take

pride in our new school. Please vote on Tuesday in favor of the school, and let the Tisbury Tigers stay as one.

 

Neal Stiller

Vineyard Haven