HARWICH – Longtime Cape Cod educator Terry Russell was awarded the Massachusetts Association of School Committee’s Division VII All-State Committee honor, the Monomoy school district announced Oct. 8.
Russell, a Harwich resident, worked in the Barnstable school system for 40 years, the last 22 of which came as principal at Barnstable Middle School. He joined the Monomoy Regional School Committee in 2011 and has served on the finance and negotiations subcommittees and the district’s building committee throughout the construction of the new high school as well as previously serving as school committee chair.
“Terry serves as a mentor for many school committee members, offering historical knowledge and a steady hand in moments of critical decision,” school committee member Tina Games, who nominated Russell for the award, said in a news release. “He’s a great listener and a thoughtful colleague — and a good partner when it comes to advancing necessary changes, whether it’s equity in the way we serve our student population or equity in the financial funding we receive from the two towns.”
Russell joins other school committee members from across the state in receiving the MASC All-State School Committee honor. MASC won’t be presenting this award during its annual joint conference, as it traditionally has done, due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19. MASC will present Russell and the rest of the recipients with their awards in person at a later date. The Monomoy Regional School Committee honored Russell for receiving the award during its Oct. 7 meeting.
“I was totally surprised,” said Russell, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. “I did thank Tina Games, a member of our school committee who is our liaison connected with the state school committee association. It was a nice boost to be recognized. This type of volunteerism goes a long way for everyone on the committee because you’re doing it for the kids.”
Russell reflected on his time serving for Monomoy, which really began when the town started investigating the condition of Harwich High School around 2006 or 2007.
“They formed a building needs committee and I submitted a request to join and they invited me to,” Russell said. “I made a comment that we looked at a really old building and it was tired and the plumbing didn’t work … then I thought to myself, ‘That sounds like me.’”
Soon after, Chatham and Harwich decided it would be in the best interest of the two towns to merge into Monomoy Regional. Since then, Russell has played a key role in making various decisions.
“Terry Russell has been an integral part of the Monomoy Regional School Committee since its inception,” Monomoy superintendent Scott Carpenter said in the news release. “Terry’s years of experience as a school administrator on the Cape, understanding of our community, and true devotion to the needs of students have created lasting positive contributions to our schools. We are pleased that MASC has recognized and honored Terry’s efforts and dedication.”
Russell said that spending some of his retirement serving for Monomoy has been a thrill, and he noted part of his motivation to stay involved is because of his two grandsons, Declan, who is a junior at MRHS, and his older brother, Trevor, a Monomoy graduate and current sophomore at Fairfield University.
“That was part of my motivation to plug myself in, to make sure they get their best shot as high school kids,” he said.
While Russell acknowledges it’s nice to be recognized for his service, he’s quick to point out all that he has accomplished couldn’t have been done without the help of others.
“This recognition from the state brings back the many, many school committee members that I have shared with in the past 11 years,” he said. “Any one of them could’ve been honored and recognized because the experience I’ve gained, their willingness to debate openly and honestly and make some tough decisions for the kids in both towns, has been so rewarding for me to listen and be involved in.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal