PROVINCETOWN — Principal Gerry Goyette, who was named interim superintendent of the Provincetown Schools on June 29, spent much of this winter clad in a full-length mink coat. He had tried on a less expensive beaver coat, “but it made me look like Magilla Gorilla,” he said.
Fur is not his usual style.
“He is low profile,” said Amy Rokicki, a longtime Provincetown teacher. “He is a competent, roll-up-your-sleeves type who knows how to get the job done.”
The fur coat had to do with his rocky transition to Provincetown, Goyette said. He sold his Worcester home and bought a new condominium at 30 Shank Painter Road expecting to move in soon after the Oct. 15, 2021 closing. He also sold a studio he owned in Provincetown on Oct. 1. But the closing kept being pushed back because of a problem with the title on the property.
Finding himself in housing limbo, Goyette began a nomadic existence, staying at friends’ houses all winter while his coats remained in storage in Worcester.
“I was walking my dog at 5:30 a.m. on Commercial Street and the wind just hit me,” Goyette said. He made a spontaneous mink coat purchase at Vintage & Vogue in December.
Goyette was hired as principal of the preK-to-8 Provincetown Schools last summer. His new job as interim superintendent pays $147,500.
The schools face the combined challenges of low enrollment and a high-needs student body. Among 141 students, 55 percent are low-income and 17 percent are English language learners, according to the state Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education.
At least one Provincetown resident is thrilled by Goyette’s promotion. Jeff Gaudor, 35, was a student in 1999 at Wamsutta Middle School in Attleboro, where Goyette was a teacher. A seventh-grader, Gaudor was struggling with the realization he was gay. He was being bullied and suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide.
He noted that Goyette, his science teacher, was gay and “had this way of making me feel like everything was going to be OK,” Gaudor said. “We were 28 students in his class, but he never made anyone feel like they were a number. I wanted to be like him when I grew up.”
The grown-up Gaudor first saw Goyette during Carnival in 2014. They waved to each other, but Gaudor was on a float, having just been named Miss Gay Massachusetts, and he could not find Goyette after the parade. Until this year, that is, when Goyette walked into Scents of Adventure, where Gaudor works.
“I started crying,” Gaudor said of the moment he saw his former teacher. “He saved my life.”
Goyette said, “You never know the impact you have on kids.”
Goyette was raised in Somerset and Fall River but began his teaching career in Southern California, which is also where he earned his master’s in education. He came back East to the Boston Public Schools, then spent the bulk of his career in the Attleboro and Sutton public schools as a teacher and then a principal.
“I was going to retire and move to Provincetown,” Goyette said, “and then Provincetown needed a principal. This is where I am meant to be.” On his first day he told his new colleagues that getting the job here was like winning the lottery.
As for being superintendent, Goyette said he will do it for a year but wants to return to being principal, a job he calls the “best gig in the world” because he can spend time with students and watch teachers at work. “Paperwork is paperwork, but you need to put it down between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. or you will miss the best part of the day,” he said.
Goyette now has to hire an interim principal, while the school committee searches for a permanent replacement for Supt. Suzanne Scallion, who retired at the end of June.