It seems like just yesterday that we were watching Lisa Gill Howard display her incredible athletic skills for the Winthrop High School softball team on its way to winning the Massachusetts state championship. She was the gritty, determined, and skillful second baseman whose all-out hustle and effort typified that championship team coached by Ron Spinney during a dream season that ended magically in a faraway place called Whitinsville.
Even though Lisa’s sheer brilliance may have been overshadowed somewhat by the other Lisa on that famed team — the incomparable Lisa Monteleone Ferrara — Lisa Gill Howard would go on and excel for the Boston College softball team, earning a starting position in the Division 1 program while receiving a degree in one of the nation’s most outstanding schools.
Professional softball could have been an option, but unfortunately there is no “Major League” for women, so Lisa set out on a teaching career that brought her back to her hometown where she became a much-respected leader and voice in the field of special education. She strove to enhance her knowledge in her field, receiving a Master’s Degree and pursuing a doctoral degree.
As the town’s pupil personnel director, Lisa made Winthrop a state model for special education. She brought the same determination to make the Winthrop school system the best it could be that she had carried to the athletic field years earlier.
Superintendent of Schools John Macero recognized her professional excellence immediately and her promotion to assistant superintendent of schools was a great move as she became a valued, trusted, and loyal addition to the top tier of leadership of our school system.
But Lisa has decided to leave her leadership position in our school system and take a similar position in the Saugus school system. Lisa says that she is moving on to a new position because she feels it is the right time in her career for a new challenge and a new direction and the move is what is best for her family at this time. She leaves behind a legacy of achievement and accomplishment in our school system and quite frankly, we wish she would reconsider her decision. Once again Winthrop is losing an outstanding administrator and one, as a lifelong Winthrop resident, who understands the culture of our town, the importance of education to the parents of our schoolchildren, and the pride Winthrop people take in all aspects of life here.
This is a tremendous setback for our school system, for Lisa Howard has been the perfect complement and assistant superintendent to John Macero as he takes this town’s school system to the next level, with hopefully a brand new $80 million middle- high school in our future.
Yes, we have always admired Lisa Howard and the classy and distinctive manner in which she is honoring her contract until the end is emblematic of the fine lady she is. Thankfully, Lisa Howard will still have a presence here. Her daughter Gretchen is one of the top ice hockey goaltenders in the state and we know we’ll be seeing Lisa at the Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center cheering on the Winthrop girls hockey team. (And perhaps Gretchen can match her mother’s amazing career and help bring a state title to Winthrop!)
We say, thank you Lisa Gill, for being an outstanding scholar-athlete, educator, and administrator whose only goal was always to make Winthrop the best school system and town it could be.
Winthrop’s loss is Saugus’s gain.