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Clipper Corner Alumni Edition

Clipper Corner Alumni Edition: Teaticket Special Education Secretary Lisa Gauthier 

By Sarah E. Murphy 

Lisa GauthierLast August, when Teaticket Tigers and their families were savoring the final weeks of summer before the start of the 2023-2024 school year, Lisa Gauthier was already back to work. But this time, it was in a brand-new position.

After years as a teaching assistant, beginning in preschool and later moving to kindergarten, a role she loved, Lisa decided it was time to utilize her skills in a different capacity. The decision was also motivated by the retirement of Special Education Secretary Brooke McCarthy at the end of the 2022/23 school year.

“It was very sad leaving the classroom, especially after 13 years in kindergarten, but I just felt like I needed to grow more. When Brooke announced her retirement, it felt like the right move for me,” Lisa said.

A 2002 graduate of Falmouth High School, Lisa moved to Falmouth when she was in fourth grade, attending one year at Mullen-Hall. Her connection to Teaticket began in January of 1999,  when she started working in the Kids’ Club as a ninth-grader. 

“I was told I needed to get a job,” she joked, referring to her mother, Lucia Conlon, who started out as the Special Education Secretary at Teaticket before retiring as Secretary to the Principal at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. 

It quickly became much more than an after-school job for Lisa, revealing her calling in education, and Program Director Dawn (Labossiere) Williamson became more than a boss but also a trusted friend. 

When asked what makes the school so special, her reply was one that is often echoed at Teaticket, particularly those with a long history.

“We’re like a family here,” she said. 

Life in the Teaticket community has come full-circle for Lisa and Dawn, who took over as Secretary to the Principal when Lisa’s mother retired, so they now sit side-by-side in the Main Office. 

“I knew it was going to be great, because of Lisa’s longevity, but it’s beyond what I expected. We can read each other, and we know exactly what needs to be done,” Dawn said. 

“She learned everything in her job so quickly, and she’s picked up some tasks that I used to do. That takes some of my load away, which has been fabulous. She’s amazing.” 

Dawn underscored Lisa’s ability to manage situations in-the-moment. 

“Sometimes it’s hard to get through one task because you’re juggling multiple things - it could be a safety issue of letting someone in the door and not knowing who it is. She knows which situation to go to first, but she’s able to give all of them her attention,” Dawn said. 

“She’s better at that than I am. She remains calmer than I do, and she’s extremely patient. She doesn’t miss a beat.”

Lisa’s demeanor and dedication are equally appreciated by the students. 

“She has a fan club called the Gauthies,” Dawn explained with a laugh. 

“They all know her from kindergarten. The entire second grade just loves her to death.”

Dawn also emphasized the positive impact Lisa has made on Clipper families, further illustrating the innate skills she possesses.  

“You need to have someone with understanding,” Dawn said. 

“Lisa shows a lot of empathy to the parents. She makes them feel comfortable.”

Principal Sandy Kapsambelis agreed. 

“Lisa has brought a lot to this role, and I can’t say how happy we are to have her in her current position. Because of her long history with Teaticket, she knows the school inside and out, and she’s really committed to its success,” she said. 

“She’s super-dependable, and she’s organized and efficient. You ask her to do something, and the next thing you know, it’s done.” 

Mrs. Kapsambelis highlighted Lisa’s initiative. 

“She’s not afraid to learn new things. There’s been a lot to learn this year, and she’s comfortable in her role due to her past history of working with students and staff. She’s always willing to jump in and help anytime. She’ll cover a lunch duty if she needs to,” she said. 

“And she has such a great relationship with the students. They wave to her as they walk by the office on their way to lunch, and she has lots of little pictures taped to her desk that they made for her.” 

Mrs. Kapsambelis added that like Lisa’s mother, who previously worked in the position, she has the ability to multitask while never failing to provide personal attention. 

“Lisa has that same ability to maintain the calm in the chaos in the front office role. There could be someone trying to get in the front door, the phone is ringing off the hook, there’s a little student standing in front of you with a dismissal note, and a teacher is asking for something out of their mailbox. She can prioritize all these things so nobody leaves feeling like they were disregarded. She does it all.”

Teaticket Special Education Building Assistant Krista Connelly also underscored Lisa’s interpersonal skills, in addition to the traditional administrative abilities she has exhibited, many of which she has learned by doing.

“Lisa is highly organized and has great attention to detail. She’s been a phenomenal partner for Dawn. Their teamwork and collaboration are excellent. The front office runs seamlessly,” Ms. Connelly said. 

“But what I want to hone in on is that she has brought a balance of what I think are the two most important qualities to this position, a deep knowledge of our Teaticket community, and a desire to serve and further develop those long standing relationships with our students and their families. Oftentimes, I think people think of a secretary as just sitting at a desk doing paperwork, but it’s so much more than that.” 

Sarah E. Murphy