Daniel Sharkovitz, the Vineyard’s beloved ‘Shark’ and longtime English teacher at the regional high school, died on February 16. He was 68 years old.

Mr. Sharkovitz taught at the high school for 38 years, retiring in 2017. During that time he won numerous awards for his teaching and his advising of the high school newspaper, The View. He also left an indelible mark on countless generations of Vineyard students as a teacher and chair of the English Department, and was known for teaching his classes with Hamlet in one hand and the children’s book, Katy and the Big Snow, in the other.

In a 2017 interview with the Gazette he explained it this way: “Sometimes when kids move into high school, their love of reading. . . I don’t know maybe they get busy with life. I like to start off a literature class with a book like this. . . It helps them move back, at least in their memories, to a time when I hope more of them really loved books.”

Mr. Sharkovitz graduated from Northeastern University and after college taught inmates at a house of correction in Boston and led a poetry workshop for years at the Stone Soup Gallery. He had never heard of Martha’s Vineyard but on a whim he came to the Island to interview for an English teacher position. He overslept and missed his breakfast and so during the interview he pulled out a cucumber and began eating it. That cucumber was the key to his job offer, he said.

“It was between you and another really wonderful candidate,” then-English teacher John Morelli told him. “The deciding factor was this, a cucumber. We had never seen that before. And we’re thinking, if he can interest the three of us on a hot summer day, maybe he can be an interesting teacher for the students.”

And for the next 38 years Mr. Sharkovitz did just that, channeling his own bad experiences as a high school student into good experiences for his students. Talking with the Gazette in 2017 he said he had been a troublemaker in high school but that a few teachers had taken an interest in him, in particular a teacher who used his own money to buy books for students who couldn’t afford their own.

“Those moments where you run into people who believe in things that matter, who care about you and others. . . yeah they’re paid, teachers are paid, but he wasn’t paid to buy books for us,” Mr. Sharkovitz said.

In retirement Mr, Sharkovitz became a student of writing himself and published his first book, a series of short stories called A World of Good.

“I like to write stories that capture that fuzziness of the reality in which we live,” he said in a 2019 interview with the Gazette. “Virginia Woolf said she loved to explore the inner workings of human consciousness. I feel the same way. It’s what I enjoy.”

At a retirement acknowledgment event, one of Mr. Sharkovitz’s students, Willa Vigneault, spoke about her admiration for her high school teacher and newspaper advisor.

“Dan Sharkovitz is a man with a personality larger than life, or at the very least larger than himself,” she said. “He is himself openly and unapologetically. It is that exuberant personality and clear passion for what he teaches that has inspired his coworkers and his students, and forever ingrained himself as the one and only Dan Sharkovitz in their minds."

Mr. Sharkovitz is survived by his four children: Kristen Sharkovitz of Boston and her partner Andrew McCourt; Matthew Sharkovitz and his wife Vanessa Czarnecki of Vineyard Haven; Marina Sharkovitz of Edgartown and her partner Steve Correll; and Christopher Aring of West Tisbury; as well as sister Barbara Kuczmiec and her husband Stanley of Medway and numerous nieces and nephews and extended family members.

There will be graveside service at St. Joseph's Cemetery, 58 Oakland street, in Medway on Saturday, February 22 at 1 p.m. A celebration of life on the Vineyard will take place a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation be made to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School Memorial Scholarship Fund. Checks should be addressed to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, c/o Marylee Schroeder, with Daniel Sharkovitz in the memo line, and mailed to 4 Pine street, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.