NLS Middle School Moves to the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club

NLS Middle School Moves to the Nantucket Boys and Girls Club


In June 2016, Nantucket Lighthouse School’s Board of Trustees approved a new 5-year Strategic Plan. A primary focus of that plan is to establish a permanent home for our middle school students, an examination of which began several years prior to the adoption of the 2016 Strategic Plan. A very active campus development work group has spent the last three years researching possibilities, including renting an alternative space or moving back to the Rugged Road campus, a vision that is furthered by our debt-free purchase of the adjoining one-acre property and cottage. As you can imagine, the needs of a school are somewhat specific, and many possibilities have been explored and found unsuitable.


While we have been fortunate to rent space from our friends at St. Paul’s, who have been extremely generous and welcoming, we have also recognized that we need a larger space for our middle school, and one where an administrator can work, and our students can run around, come together as a whole school and safely and comfortably express their adolescence. For eight years, we enjoyed our home in the Parish House, but the physical space lacks important features and requires constant care, maneuvering and sacrifice for our teachers and students.


Several weeks ago, while working on physical education programming with Nantucket Boys and Girls Club’s Director of Operations, Jamie Foster, a serendipitous opportunity presented itself: the rental of Nantucket Boys and Girls Club for our middle school. Because the idea only surfaced days before the Garden Festival, it didn’t seem a likely possibility; however, upon further reflection and a deep consideration of our students and their adolescent needs, we decided to follow it further.


Being a small school, and one that is nimble and steadfastly focused on the developmental considerations of a particular age, we recognized that we had an obligation to explore which campus would provide the greatest opportunity for the children, even if it meant we had to unexpectedly pivot. While it would be easy to remain at St. Paul’s, and avoid moving in August, once the seed was planted and the programming and space-use ideas began percolating, it become clear that our students would benefit greatly from the move. St. Paul’s agreed and willingly terminated our license agreement without penalty because of the outstanding possibilities they saw for us at Nantucket Boys and Girls Club.


Change can be uncomfortable, and there is a natural and easy tendency to remain still in order to avoid the discomfort that comes with the new and unknown. As we wrestled with the decision to stay at St. Paul’s or move to the Boys and Girls Club, we repeatedly asked ourselves what would be best for our students and their social, emotional, physical, and educational needs. In doing so, it became clear that Nantucket Boys and Girls Club was the preferred campus. It is newly renovated, spacious, and offers important benefits for our adolescent children:

  • A gymnasium and outdoor field space for physical education classes and recess improve our ability to provide for physical activities
  • Staying on campus for these activities avoids the loss of valuable instructional time walking to satellite locations
  • A lunch area separate from the classrooms allows both classes to eat together and build a sense of community
  • Office space for teachers and an administrator provides critical faculty workspace and greater oversight of the program and our students
  • Larger classrooms can accommodate the whole group for morning and all school meetings
  • Increased building security, with fewer non-employees going in and out of the building during the school day, makes for a safer environment for our students and faculty
  • Both interior and exterior spaces are handicap accessible


This summer at the Garden Festival, Soirée guests raised their hands so that we could purchase a second school van, specifically to allow our middle schoolers greater mobility and opportunities for in-the-field learning. Although we will not be right in town, we now have easy access to it and the whole island.


While there are great advantages to moving to Nantucket Boys and Girls Club, we also recognize there may be unsettled feelings and a sense of loss as we say goodbye to what has been home for our middle school and its students. We will miss our friends at St. Paul’s, our easy trips to town, the familiarity of the space, and our late start time in the morning; but with time, these memories will be merged with the many that will be made in our new home at Nantucket Boys and Girls Club.


Emily Miller
Head of School
Mark Lucas
Kitty Pochman