“Dad of Life Skills Program” Retires After 30 Years Of Service


Alyssa Blair

Mr. Kemp is retiring after 30 years of service. Picture of him smiling above.

Alyssa Blair , Editor-In-Chief

Every year, teachers trade in their classrooms and lesson plans for a much more relaxed type of lifestyle- retirement. This year, WSHS bids farewell to Mr. Kemp, a teacher in the life skills program who taught in the high school for over 30 years.

After graduation from school, Kemp, although he always liked school, took a different path and entered into the Jesuit religious lifestyle, a Catholic religious order where men live in small communities and dedicate themselves to a lifestyle of seeking knowledge, prayer, and service to others. After two years, however, he decided not to continue on and left the religious life. “I decided not to continue on and make vows, although it was a really great experience,” he said.

Following his departure from religious life, Kemp returned to school. “I went to Elms College and got my teachers certificate,” he said. “I always liked school and I liked literature so it just seemed kind of natural for me.”

Originally, Kemp had intended to take a different path and take up a career as an English teacher. He did his student teaching in English at WSHS, but a position opened up in the food service lab, which is a part of the life skills program. The life skills program teaches students with disabilities practical, real-world skills, such as counting money, shopping, and cooking. Kemp took the job. “A job was available so I thought ‘what the heck I’ll try it for a year.’ I thought I’d eventually go on to teach English, but I ended up really liking it,” said Kemp.

Throughout his teaching career, a large part of it, naturally, has centered around his students. In the time he took to become a teacher, Kemp always knew he wanted to work with high school students. “I like the age group because what high school kids do is they start looking into the future and how they would fit into it,” he said.

Although typically in a classroom setting it is the teacher who educates the students, his students imparted lessons on their teachers, leaving their mark on his life. “I think I learned that they live their lives and they do what they like to do and they don’t really bother that much with what other people think of it,” Kemp said. “They do what they like to do and they just do it. I needed to take a page from that book.”

Not only have his students touched his lives, but Kemp has built relationships beyond the classroom, having an effect on his co-workers as well. “Mr. Kemp is an amazing guy. He’s one of the most compassionate guys I know,” said Ms. Amy Pasterczyk, another teacher in the food service lab and Terrier Cafe who has worked closely with Mr. Kemp. “He’s like the dad of the life skills program. He’s just a great guy.”

As he moves towards his retirement, unlike many retiring teachers who typically have loads of plans, Mr. Kemp has no set plans, though he “never has had trouble filling time” and has no doubt that he will “figure it out” when he gets there. “I always come up with something, I’m never bored,” he said.

With a fairly open block of lengthy time quickly approaching, Kemp intends to keep one thing the same that he has remained constant on doing throughout his entire life. “Being a person of service has always been the most important thing to me. I did it when I was in religious life as a service to others, and I did it all through my teaching career. I’ll continue to do that,” he said. “Really my plans for retirement are the same as before- be a service to others.”

As he departs, Kemp had some advice for any new teachers entering into service either at WSHS or elsewhere. “Get to know everyone in the school,” he said. “Develop relationships with all the administrators, with as many teachers as possible, with as many parents. Get to know the town, the school committee, the mayor. Get out there and really get to know the community and make yourself a part of it.”

Mr. Kemp, who claims to be “the luckiest teacher in Massachusetts” will certainly be missed among his students and the faculty as he moves on to the next phase of his life.