Tisbury School mourns longtime educator

After the passing of English language learning teacher Shannon Carbon, the district is providing access to counseling.

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Shannon Carbon, longtime Tisbury School educator, passed away this week. —Angelina Godbout

After the sudden passing on Tuesday of Shannon Carbon, a longtime English language learning (ELL) teacher at the Tisbury School, the Vineyard school district is remembering its colleague, and making sure that students and staff can access counseling resources.

Shannon Carbon served as an ELL teacher as well as a K–8 coordinator since joining the Tisbury School in 2012.

Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Superintendent Richie Smith, who first worked with Carbon when he was principal of the Tisbury School, spoke to Carbon’s important roles within the school, as well as the loss felt by MVPS. 

“This is a tremendous loss, not just to the school and the children she worked with, but the children she supported in her personal life,” Smith said. “It’s an incredibly gut-wrenching moment.”

Smith says that Carbon was a committed teacher involved in many different aspects of education. “Shannon’s reach and influence wasn’t just on the school level. She was a big part of the community. Many students and parents knew her through coaching,” says Smith. “She was an English language teacher, but she supported language arts, so she supported literacy. She was one of those teachers that really just stepped up into multiple roles.”

Following Carbon’s passing, Smith says, students and staff have been top of mind, and that both parents and staff have been made aware of a range of counseling resources.

“As soon as we found out, [supporting students] was our primary concern,” says Smith. “Right behind that is, ‘How do we support our staff?’ It’s a great loss to not just the children but the adults as well.”

Smith says the effort to provide all necessary counseling resources has been a districtwide collaboration, and will continue to be: “We ensured that there were counseling services. There were hospice counselors from the hospital, and grief counselors from Community Services … We had counselors from each of the elementary schools [at the Tisbury School]. Some of them are still there today, and will be until the Tisbury School has the staffing it needs to ensure that we’re addressing all the kids’ concerns. There will be extra staff all week at the Tisbury School.”

At the Tisbury School, supportive spaces are also being provided for students. “We set aside a space for kids to come visit, and if children need more intensified support, we set aside spaces where there can be one-on-one support,” the superintendent said. “That’ll continue into next week. If extra support is needed beyond that, we’ll make sure we either have the resources ourselves, or make sure the parents are aware of what resources [there are].”

Smith also noted a focus on counseling for high schoolers: “There were children impacted Island-wide, and at the high school.” He said counselors are available to speak with any of the students if they need support. “We know these things take time. The grieving process takes time.”

On Wednesday, 163 people attended a remote event held for parents, titled “How to Talk with Your Children About Sudden Death and Traumatic Events.” The event, facilitated by Riverside Trauma Center, focused on addressing sudden death with children safely and supportively, how to spot signs of struggle, and on encouraging students to seek support if needed. 

The event’s announcement also directed parents to grief resources, including Hospice and Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard, Brightline Pediatric Mental Health, and HEARTplay virtual grief groups for youth.

“Considering [that] Shannon’s reach was far and Island-wide, we wanted to make sure parents, students, and staff were considered,” says Smith. “What Riverside Trauma Center did was to help staff and parents know how to support kids directly, whether at home or here in the classrooms.”

Moving into next week, Smith says counseling availability will still be at the forefront of the district’s approach. “The plan is to continue to consider what our next step is,” says Smith. “We are continuing our partnership with Riverside Trauma Center. They can be available at any time. [For] anything like this, anybody has an idea of how they might respond, and how they might grieve and mourn, but in the end, you can’t really completely predict what is going to be needed. So you must be ready anytime. We do need to have resources.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. Shannon was one of a kind. She, like her father Pat Gregory, will be mourned and missed for many years to come.

  2. Shannon’s visionary ideas for our language learning programs, and her extraordinary warmth and kindness will be treasured and never fogotten.

  3. How is this possible? I just waved to her a few days ago. Her family was so important in my life as a child growing up. I am in shock! This is too sad! I’m so sorry for all of her family and those who were close to her. Thank you for making our world a better place!

  4. Thinking of the Tisbury School staff and students (and those now at the High School). Shannon was so dedicated to her students and worked with them to help them in there learning and more! I really enjoyed working with her when I was there. A genuine caring person. My heart breaks.

  5. This is an incomprehensible loss for Shannon’s family, her dear friends, her students, her colleagues, her community and beyond. She will be sorely missed by all of us, but if you keep her close in a very special place in your heart surrounded by Love ❤️ and know that all your beautiful memories can never be taken away, it will help your gentle healing process. “When a ship disappears over the horizon, it is only lack of altitude that prevents our seeing it. To those on the other side with a different perspective, the cry is ‘Here she comes’ instead of ‘there she is gone.’ But from the standpoint of the Love that alone is Life, and is omnipresent, there is neither coming or going, for presence has no absence.” John Hargreaves

  6. My heart goes out to Shannon’s family, her friends, and students and others. I watched her grow-up. May we be there for one another in times of stress or difficulty or trauma. It is good to hear from Andrew W. and Pam B. I miss all my friends on the Vineyard. Sending Love and Prayers.

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