A quick chat with Nantucket High School principal, John Buckey.
N MAGAZINE: What’s the greatest challenge facing students today on Nantucket?
BUCKEY: Balance. With so many opportunities at Nantucket High School and on the island, our students can be overextended, working to balance their challenging courses, athletics, clubs and activities, and, in some cases jobs. It can be very challenging finding the balance between involved and overwhelmed.
N MAGAZINE: What’s the greatest challenge facing teachers?
BUCKEY: Time. We have more students in larger classes with greater needs and a seemingly daily, new, unfunded mandate by people in state and federal offices — who are detached from the realities of today’s students — with the same number of hours in the day to accomplish it all.
N MAGAZINE: If you could magically change one thing about Nantucket, what would it be?
BUCKEY: I would have a school plane or two to transport our students and staff to and from the mainland. From athletics for our student-athletes to workshops and continuing education for staff, we invest a tremendous amount of time in travel. It would be nice to give them the gift of time by having our own planes.
N MAGAZINE: What originally brought you to the island?
BUCKEY: My husband likes to say he imported me.
N MAGAZINE: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
BUCKEY: I started college as a broadcast journalism major. I thought I was going to be an anchor on the evening news.
N MAGAZINE: What’s your favorite meal served at the high school café?
BUCKEY: My go-to is generally a salad, but a chicken patty with tater tots is great comfort food on days that are more challenging than others.
N MAGAZINE: Who is one of the unsung heroes at Nantucket High School?
BUCKEY: Celso, one of our day custodians. He is the hardest working and kindest person in the building.
N MAGAZINE: What’s your favorite time of day at work and why?
BUCKEY: I really enjoy standing out front in the morning with a cup of coffee, greeting students as they arrive.
N MAGAZINE: What’s the most frequent offense to land a student in your office?
BUCKEY: We have an assistant principal who handles most of the day-to-day discipline. If it makes it to my office, it’s probably something serious like drug possession or an assault.
N MAGAZINE: What was your favorite subject in school and why?
BUCKEY: Spanish. I had a great teacher, which is one of the reasons I became a teacher.
N MAGAZINE: How is teaching intrinsically different on Nantucket compared to off-island communities?
BUCKEY: I feel we know our students better on Nantucket. We are a comprehensive high school. On the mainland, students might attend a vocational/technical high school or a day placement for special services, rather than the high school in their community. On Nantucket, we do it all. From a rigorous college preparatory curriculum to various programs for diverse learners to robust career and vocational educational electives, our school provides a range of opportunities for all learners on island.