In 1983, my parents bought a new house on Crocker avenue in Tisbury and we moved from East Chop over to West Chop. Suddenly we could walk to town, be close to the ferry, and more importantly, we would be entering the Tisbury School, with its multiple levels, real classrooms, hallways and several playing fields. I was excited at the prospect of becoming a Tisbury Tiger. This was 1983. The Tisbury School was built in 1930. When I was in third grade, the school was 53 years old.

I spent six of the most influential years of my life in that building. Tisbury had so many amazing teachers, administration and maintenance staff, including a certain math teacher who taught cribbage and happened to be my uncle.

Today the school still provides consistent professionalism, compassionate leadership and educational excellence. There is something magical in the unity of the school, and most of it comes from the staff who produce that magic in spite of the physical plant they work in.

My oldest son entered kindergarten in 2009. His sisters followed in 2013, and my wife has been the school nurse since 2013. When our son entered kindergarten, my visits back to the school since my eighth grade graduation had been few and far between, and I took a nostalgic walk around the building.

That year the school was 79 years old.

The music room next to the stage in the gym looked the same. The gym was still half the size of a regular gym. The cafeteria was still good for about 30 kids. The boiler room still looked like the sleeping quarters for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer. Even the colors of paint seemed to be the same.

There were differences, though. I was warned when entering one classroom to look down because the floors were so buckled. Plaster was falling off the walls. The bathrooms looked like they belonged in a 1930s prison, with the old radiators and lord knows how many layers of lead paint.

The once-cozy Tisbury School was old and falling apart.

In 2018 my son graduated from eighth grade.

That year the school was 88 years old.

The graduation ceremony was special, sitting in the old gymnasium, barely enough room for a class of eighth graders and their parents. More warm memories were created, but they came on the heels of a stinger. The town of Tisbury had just voted down, albeit by the smallest of margins, the construction of a new school.

The town was back to the drawing board to create a new plan for its old school.

Today the Tisbury School 91 years old.

That’s not a misprint and I am pretty good at using a calculator (my uncle Greg the math teacher taught me that


I won’t recount the details of the school building project here — all the facts, reasoning and explanations can be found on the Tisbury School building project website (https://tisbury-school- Questions can be emailed to

There is no debate left, no questions left unanswered. Our school is 91 years old. Our children and our staff were forced out of the building for more than half the 2020 school year amid health and safety concerns directly due to the deteriorating building. Upon their return, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic hit, and the children only just re-entered the building a few weeks ago.

Most of the Tisbury School population has spent just three to four months in the building since 2019.

It is time now to dial in our focus and realize the obvious. As a community devoted to our children, we must vote for their future and build this school. There is nothing more important we can do then educate our children. When we take that vote and move forward with this project, we can collectively clap our hands, with tears of adulation and thank the teachers, administration and staff of the Tisbury School, current and for the past 91 years.

It is because of them that the school remains a beacon of unity for our children’s education. They, along with the children and this town, deserve a new Tisbury School.

Geoghan Coogan is an attorney living in Vineyard Haven.