Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School principal Margaret (Peg) Regan quietly announced late last week that she will resign at the end of the school year.
Mrs. Regan submitted a letter of resignation to Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss on Friday.
“My resignation hasn’t been accepted by the school committee yet, but I have offered my resignation as of June 2008 so I can explore new vistas, do new things, maybe get back into teaching, maybe do some work advocating for education at the federal level,” Mrs. Regan, 57, told the Gazette yesterday.
“I feel like I’ve had a long and wonderful career, both as a teacher and as an administrator and I want to get out there on the cutting edge where things can change and things can happen,” she said.
This is Mrs. Regan’s ninth year at the regional high school. She moved to the Vineyard in the summer of 1999 from Mill Valley, Calif., where she was an assistant principal at Tamalpais High School.
“I think I’ve had a really good nine-year run, and I’ve loved working at this high school. I think I’ve hired some good teachers and there is a strong leadership team right now. I think it’s time to step away and do some things that I haven’t done with my life, and go forward with my own agenda in education,” Mrs. Regan said, adding: “The only negative thing I have to say is the amount of time it takes to be a principal these days. There isn’t time to reflect.
“After nine years in action mode, I think it’s time to reflect. I think it takes a great deal of solitude to understand things really well.”
Mr. Weiss said yesterday that he was somewhat surprised with the timing of Mrs. Regan’s resignation. But he also said he knew that she planned to leave at some point to pursue other goals.
“Having been there nearly 10 years is a real milestone, and while I know this is the right decision for her, it puts me in a situation where I have another principal position to fill,” Mr. Weiss said. He said he will bring the matter before the school committee at its next meeting Oct. 1.
Last year was a turbulent one for Vineyard schools in terms of principals. Four of the five elementary schools currently have new, interim or acting principals. The superintendent’s office also has a new assistant superintendent and the regional high school has a new assistant principal.
“This is her decision and we’ll certainly miss her,” Mr. Weiss said. “She’s going to be a difficult administrator to replace.”
Mrs. Regan said she has several education interests that she would like to pursue. She takes issue with the fact that children are allowed to drop out of school at 16 and considers it a relic of an agriculture-based society. “What you know at 16 to do a lifetime of work is really insufficient,” she said. “There should be laws requiring kids to stay in school.”
She also criticized the general direction of education.
“In Massachusetts and the United States . . . we’re losing the creativity — the artistry — of what teaching means,” she said. “In my time, I’ve seen the department of education become more and more a numbers and data organization.”
She still plans to keep Martha’s Vineyard as her home base, and her family does too. Her husband, John (Jack) Regan has taught second and third grade at the Chilmark School for seven years. Her daughter Emily will graduate from the regional high school in June.
She praised the high school.
“I feel like the school is so student-centered and teacher-centered and parent-centered. People have a voice at the table of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High school,” she said.
A native of Dunellen, N.J., Mrs. Regan has had a long career in education. After graduating from the University of Dayton in Ohio with a degree in English, she moved to New York city. When she realized that writing poetry wouldn’t pay the bills, she took a position in 1973 as an English teacher at a private Catholic school called Our Lady of Sorrows.
“I fell into it accidentally, really,” she said. “I fell in love with teaching and the kids.”
She later obtained a master’s degree at Columbia University. From 1977 to 1984, she taught seventh and eighth grade at Barnstable Middle School. She then moved to Barnstable High School, where she was an English teacher and was promoted to assistant principal in 1994. Three years later, she moved to California for another assistant principal position.
“I have had such a wonderful experience here being principal and I will always have Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in my heart — the students, parents, teachers and staff — and I hope to ensure a smooth transition to whoever comes after me,” she said.
“My plan is not to retire into playing golf and reading the newspaper.”