From the Editor

Shortly after my father in law, Dan Sharkovitz, was diagnosed with cancer, he started writing a book. Many people faced with similar circumstances have this inclination, but Dan was prepared: he was an avid reader, a clear and lyrical writer, and had taught English at the regional high school for thirty-eight years.

Dan finished the collection of short stories, A World of Good, a few months before he died. He gave a well attended reading at the West Tisbury Library and had individual stories published in literary journals. He sold the book at Island stores and was ecstatic to learn the first batch had sold out.

He talked of writing another volume – of poems, maybe, or essays, or a play. He didn’t talk about his worsening prognosis, maintaining hope until the last moment that he would be granted a reprieve. But in speaking about his work, as he often did, it was clear he hoped to write his legacy.

I cherish the volume of stories Dan left us; it is a cerebral, artfully composed glimpse into the mind of a man determined not to surrender, determined to make sense of the world. But despite his best efforts, I don’t believe his legacy is contained in its pages. That – at least the public part of it, the part that exists outside of his four children who bear his mannerisms and features and carry his loss in their bones – is written on page 47 of this magazine.

“So many people in your life can tell you you’re not good at something and one person can tell you that you are good at it and it changes your trajectory,” Emma Lovewell, a Peloton instructor who grew up on the Vineyard and is profiled in this issue, said of her former teacher, the man affectionately known to his students as “Shark.” He had a unique teaching style, a willingness to let students rewrite their papers until they got it right, she said. “He made such a big impact on my life.”

I don’t know Emma personally, and I didn’t know of her connection to my father in law until the first draft of the article landed in my inbox. Her words – not to mention the collision of my personal and professional lives – caught me by surprise, but not for the first time since Dan’s death.

Dan had a contagious enthusiasm for teaching and proselytized for his profession. He cared deeply for his students – he rooted for them, wrote countless recommendations, and stayed in touch with some of them long after they graduated.

I knew he was generally well liked and respected. Many times I had been by his side when a student approached him in the grocery store to tell him he was their favorite teacher, or had done them a particular favor that made a difference. But I didn’t realize how deeply woven into the fabric of this community he was until, much to my surprise, his obituary was printed on the front page of the Martha’s Vineyard Times. That same week, Bill Eville wrote a stirring tribute in the Vineyard Gazette.

Students flooded the comment sections, sent notes and emails to his family, and stopped them in the store to share stories and anecdotes, just as they had done with Dan. They told of the ways he had stepped up to coach the baseball and chess teams, instilled in them a love of teaching, and helped them get into college.

Nearly three years have since passed. The condolences arrive less frequently these days; the sound of Dan’s voice becomes harder to recall. But every once in a while someone shares a new story, a new note of thanks, a new anecdote in a magazine, and I am grateful. It is a reminder that Dan’s legacy is still being written by his students.