On Saturday morning, well over a hundred people gathered at the Edgartown School on Robinson Road to pay tribute to former principal Edward Joseph (Ed) Jerome. Mr. Jerome was the school principal who, from 1979 through to his retirement in 2005, created a community-based culture of academic excellence and camaraderie, with the schoolchildren of Edgartown at its center.

Mr. Jerome died on Sept. 18, 2018.

On the third anniversary of his death, the school building was dedicated in his honor. The memorial dedications include a granite bench created by Alan Gowell of Martha’s Vineyard Memorials that will sit outside the school in the front circle, just underneath the windows of the principal’s office. The bench will be carved with a familiar Dr. Seuss quote about the places you’ll go if you read, learn and know. Plaques commemorating Mr. Jerome’s character, commitment, energy and service will be placed outside and inside the school.

Sandy Joyce feels the moment. — Ray Ewing

Mr. Jerome’s most visible legacy stood behind the podium at Saturday’s event: the Edgartown School building itself. He envisioned it with the idea of incorporating images of the town’s maritime history and pushed the project through an extended review process of public hearings and permits, including two failed town votes. The new building opened in 2003 and houses 550 students in classrooms and 600 in its core facilities.

“This is the House That Ed Built,” retired special education teacher Sandy Joyce proclaimed as she welcomed the crowd of former and current faculty, along with former, current and future students, community members and family. Uniformed members of the Edgartown Police Department gathered in a group. Circles of conversation formed around Maryanne and Nick Jerome, the late principal’s wife and son.

The prevailing theme of the remarks and conversations was summed up by retired Edgartown School guidance counselor Mike Joyce Sr.: “Ed Jerome always found a way." This was true of making the new school project a reality as well as his ability to guide the budget for the advantage of staff, students and community members rather than making cuts that would have impacted the excellence of the experience.

Joanne Cassidy reprised a song she sang at her eighth grade graduation — Ray Ewing

Many memories were shared: the K-3 children walking through downtown Edgartown during construction to get to their temporary classrooms at the Federated Church and other locations; Mr. Jerome delighting students by greeting them in the school circle when they arrived in the morning; eating lunch with kindergartners; gifting books on birthdays; and talking about fishing in his office (Mr. Jerome was the longtime derby president.)

Joanne Cassidy recalled the year she dressed for Halloween as the principal with a fish hook caught in his bloody thumb. On Saturday, Ms. Cassidy played guitar and sang a version of Look To The Rainbow, which she had not performed since her eighth grade graduation from the Edgartown School.

Not all recollections were about education. Chris Scott, treasurer of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, joked about his friend’s familiarity with the best angling spots and their ritual of fishing together from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mr. Scott noted that since Mr. Jerome initiated the derby’s scholarship program, 116 students have received $763,000 in awards for studies in marine biology and climate studies as well as fine and performing arts.

Poet laureate Steve Ewing noted that he never saw Mr. Jerome scowl.

Maryanne Jerome and Nick Jerome spoke of Mr. Jerome as husband and father, respectively, as an accomplished professional educator who won the National Distinguished Principals Award and whose accomplishments were not meant to bring glory to himself but to the students who gave him joy.

Friends, families, former and current students and teachers - all came to honor the longtime Edgartown School principal. — Ray Ewing

Retired science teacher David Faber thanked the donors who helped make it possible to purchase the bench and plaques. A committee of friends, many of them former Edgartown School faculty, set a goal of raising $4,000 to $5,000 to pay for the memorials. Mr. Faber shared with a laugh that the derby committee made a significant donation that included a nod to Mr. Jerome’s long-held derby registration number: 41.

As the dedication ended, attendees enjoyed the sun that had begun to break just as Mrs. Joyce had taken the podium to start the event. Many people stayed to catch up with each other and enjoy treats made by the school’s kitchen staff. Others returned to their car and traveled the short distance down Edgartown-West Tisbury Road to Coop’s Bait and Tackle, readying themselves, no doubt, for another day out on the water, which is probably just what Ed Jerome would have liked them to do.

More pictures.