Support Pours In For High School’s Edward McCarthy
By: Michael J. Rausch
It has been a week since longtime Bourne High School teacher and guidance counselor Edward J. McCarthy Jr. was placed on administrative leave following accusations of “inappropriate conduct.”
The accusation and action taken have led to a groundswell of support for the 68-year-old, known to many as “Mr. Mac” or just “Mac.” Dozens of unsolicited e-mails received by the Enterprise this week have come from former students, as well as parents of current students. Some of those parents spoke of their own personal experience with Mr. McCarthy when they attended Bourne High School. Each correspondence speaks to the high quality of Mr. McCarthy’s character.
“Helpful, insightful”…“a father figure …“genuine and kind”…an incredible, caring, and dedicated man,” are just a smattering of the comments made in support of the 43-year veteran of Bourne High, who taught math and drivers educationat teh school before becoming a guidance counselor.
“He went above and beyond for all of his students, even those who didn’t fall into his name bracket,” wrote 24-year-old Jennifer L. Griffiths of Club House Drive in Pocasset. Ms. Griffiths said that even though Mr. McCarthy was not her guidance counselor, he helped her with college applications and wrote her a recommendation. “I felt more comfortable going to him than my own counselor,” she said. Ms. Griffiths said she will receive her doctorate in pharmacy in May and one of the first people she will show her diploma to is Mr. McCarthy. “Because he helped me get there.”
It was announced last Thursday that Mr. McCarthy was placed on paid administrative, effective March 14. Bourne School Superintendent Steven M. Lamarche made the announcement in an e-mail, saying, “After receiving complaints of inappropriate conduct, school officials reported the matter to law enforcement officials who are conducting a thorough investigation with the full cooperation of school and district staff.”
The announcement went on to say, “No other details about the case will be made public while the matter is under investigation.”
Bourne Police Chief Dennis R. Woodside said that the department “does not comment on investigations of this type until an arrest or arraignment has taken place.”
So far, Mr. McCarthy has not been arrested.
Many of the e-mails the Enterprise received this week spoke to the implausibility of Mr. McCarthy doing anything inappropriate. Former Bourne High student Cecilia Fitzsimmons Miksch wrote that she “NEVER felt awkward or taken advantage of by Mr. Mac,” despite being alone with him many times. Ms. Miksch said she hopes her own daughter will someday have a counselor as “superb as Mr. Mac.” She said it is breaking her heart to hear of someone trying to “discredit an honest, hardworking man like himself who has given Bourne students and families his dedication.”
Lea M. Benson of Harwood Drive in Pocasset wrote that she has known Mr. McCarthy for more than 15 years. She said that two of her children, along with a niece and a nephew, all graduated from Bourne High. She described her daughter, currently a sophomore at Bourne High, who has Mr. McCarthy for her guidance counselor as “devastated by this situation.” She said she knows of countless stories about Mr. McCarthy’s sympathetic nature toward all the students. “Whether it was letting them just come to his office for a snack or candy, or to have a gripe session and Mac would just listen and make them feel better and send them on their way,” she wrote.
“Mac wasn’t even my guidance counselor but he was always there for me, offering support, advice, guidance, and took the time to handle many of my trivial adolescent matters,” wrote 21-year-old Samantha McMahon of Hampton, Virginia. “Even now when I visit Bourne, I make a point to go to the high school and say hello to my teachers and guidance counselors, and Mr. Mac is always there, smiling, asking with sincerity how I and my family are doing, and never forgetting to tell me he is proud of me,” she wrote.
Thomas C. Roth of Cahoon Road in Buzzards Bay wrote that Mr. McCarthy is “an asset to the Bourne school system and the community.” In his e-mail, Mr. Roth, a former Bourne High student, said, “I will always be grateful to Mr. McCarthy for being a part of my life and my kids’ life.” He said that Mr. McCarthy has given his life to the Bourne school system and “all the kids who have come through it in the last 35 years.”
Katrina Anderson, a 2010 graduate of Bourne High who now attends Bentley College wrote that Mr. McCarthy is one of only a few faculty members at the high school she is “honored to consider a friend of mine to this day.” Katrina also said that she still keeps in touch with Mr. McCarthy and was “horrified” when she heard about the accusations made against him. However, she was not surprised to see the hundreds of people from the community who are supporting him. “He truly is one of the nicest, most self-less men I know,” she wrote.
For 24-year-old Olivia Moran, a 2006 graduate of Bourne High now living in New Orleans, Mr. McCarthy was instrumental at more than just getting her into college. “He steered me through doing my taxes for the first time, helped me get my first job, listened to me talk about my troubles, and essentially helped me to become an adult,” she wrote.
“This man has been a pillar of support and kindness in Bourne for over four decades, and deserves nothing but gratitude and respect,” she said.
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