Published in the April 20, 2016 edition

RETIRING Summer Street School physical education teacher Craig Stone assists second graders Addison Munion (left) and Zoe Rockwell up the elementary school’s rock wall April 14. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

RETIRING Summer Street School physical education teacher Craig Stone assists second graders Addison Munion (left) and Zoe Rockwell up the elementary school’s rock wall April 14. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — Summer Street School physical education teacher Craig Stone has dedicated the past 44 years to helping Lynnfield students reach their fullest potential and has had plenty of fun while doing it.

Stone’s days at Summer Street School are coming to an end this June, when the admired and beloved gym teacher retires.

“I am excited and a little nervous,” said Stone. “I will begin another chapter in my life but at the same time close the book on what has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. I am also happy, but sad. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family but I will miss my friends and colleagues and all the students at Summer Street School.”

Stone, who lives in North Reading, began working in Lynnfield in 1972, when he worked at both Summer Street School and Center School, the latter of which Stone said was “the first school built in Lynnfield.” He said the only job he has held in his professional career was the result of a single interview.

“I was at the University of Oregon getting my master’s degree when my mother got a call from one of my professors, Archie Allen, from Springfield College, where I got my bachelor’s degree, wondering if I had a job yet,” Stone recalled. “He was friendly with Dr. Bernard Huntley, who was then the superintendent of schools in Lynnfield, who told him they were looking for an elementary physical education teacher. I came home from Oregon on a Saturday, had an interview on Tuesday and was hired on Thursday of the same week.”

After arriving in Lynnfield, Stone rotated between Summer Street School and Center School. He said Center School contained first, second and a couple of third grade classes, while Summer Street School had kindergarten, a couple of third grade classes and fourth through sixth grade classes.

“There were four elementary schools back then and were close to 3,000 students in the entire school system,” said Stone. “The middle school was a junior high for (grades) 7-9 and the high school had grades 10-12.”

Stone said the most enjoyable aspect of teaching physical education the past 44 years is working with students.

“Without a doubt,” said Stone. “Watching them get excited about learning a new skill, game or challenge. Watching them grow, gain confidence and cooperate with one another. Knowing that they look forward to coming to physical education, seeing me and I seeing them!”

Stone’s statement was clearly on display during a second grade physical education class last week. While Stone was demonstrating how to use indoor play structures, stilts and balance boards, Stone’s students watched in awe. His calm demeanor approach was evident, as he was smiling the entire time.

When asked what is the secret to his longevity, Stone commented, “I don’t know if it’s a secret or if there is a formula.”

“I have never woke up in the morning and said, oh no, I have to go to work,” Stone added. “It has never been just a job for me. It has been a way of life; it has been my identity. And not just at school, no matter where I go or travel, I will bump into former students and athletes that I have had and we will share fond memories and catch up on old times. They still remember activities they did in PE! It also helps that I really enjoy what I do. I have been fortunate to never have to second-guess my choice of profession.”

In addition to missing Summer Street School students, Stone said he is going to miss his colleagues when he retires.

“We have become great friends,” said Stone. “Some of them I knew as students and others came to Summer Street School as single professionals. I have been able to share their life’s experiences as they married, became parents, sent their children off to college and even attending their weddings. They have supported me through the years and have made my stay at Summer Street School very enjoyable.”


In addition to teaching at Summer Street, Stone has earned a reputation for being one of the top girls’ tennis and wrestling coaches in the state. He began his coaching career during the 1974-1975 school year, when he was named head coach of the wrestling team while it was still a club team. He went 0-11-1 his first year coaching wrestling but he quickly helped the grapplers become a powerhouse.

Stone has compiled a career record of 514-210 coaching the wrestling team. He guided the Pioneers and Black and Gold, the name of the Lynnfield-North Reading co-op team, to Cape Ann League championships in 1992, 2012, 2014 and 2015. He also helped the Black and Gold win the Division 3 North sectional championship in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Before the co-op team began, Stone helped the Pioneers become North Sectional Finalists in 1987 and 1992. He also led the co-op team to the state finals in 2014.

Additionally, Stone played an instrumental role in helping 79 grapplers become state place finishers, eight wrestlers become crowned state champions, seven become All State finishers and helped three grapplers place at the New England tournament.

Stone was named CAL coach of the year in 1986, 1987, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2008 and 2014. The Boston Globe named Stone coach of the year in 1986 and 2014. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and was named coach of the year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association Massachusetts in 2013.

Stone has had even more success on the tennis court than the mat, as he has led the girls’ tennis team to a 546-83 record since 1981. When he was a rookie coach, Stone’s two goals were to help the Pioneers finish the season with a winning record and qualify for the state tournament. Stone concluded his first year with a 5-7 record and the Pioneers finished with a 6-6 record during his second year on the sidelines.

The Pioneers finally broke through and qualified for the state tournament during Stone’s third season at the helm. The impressive streak has yet to subside, as the girls’ tennis team has qualified for the state tournament for the past 33 years.

Over the course of Stone’s tenure, the Pioneers won 18 CAL championships: 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015.

Additionally, Stone guided the Pioneers to North Sectional championships in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2014 and 2015. The Pioneers have won five state championships: 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2014. The Pioneers advanced to the North Sectional finals in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Stone was named as the CAL coach of the year in 1983, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015. The Boston Globe named Stone coach of the year in 1988, 1997, 2008 and 2014.

“Coaching has given me an opportunity to reconnect with the students once they leave Summer Street School and catch up with them as young adults,” said Stone. “There is a quote I like, ‘It’s about the journey, not the destination,’ and what a journey it has been. With coaching, I get to experience that journey in each and every one of my student-athletes. It is a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

Stone said he has no plans to stop coaching at this juncture.

“Each season brings with it another challenge and another opportunity, so time will tell,” said Stone. “But I do not have any plans to end my coaching career at this time. I am also a little nervous about having too much free time on my hands all at once.”

Looking forward

Stone said he is looking forward to the next chapter of his life. He is looking forward to spending more time with his wife Patty, who Stone has been married to for the past 38 years. He will also be spending a great deal of time with his daughter Jenna, his son Michael and daughter-in-law Liz as well as his two grandchildren, 2-year-old Jillian and 8-month-old Samantha.

“My wife and I plan on doing a little more traveling,” Stone added. “I plan on helping out with the daycare of my two granddaughters, who I thoroughly enjoy spending time with and playing a lot more tennis myself.”

When asked if he could offer some advice to local residents interested in becoming teachers, Stone commented, “Be patient, communicate clear expectations, be consistent, be compassionate and have fun!”

Lynnfield Public Schools is hosting a retirement party for Stone at the Hillview Country Club in North Reading on Saturday, May 7, beginning at 6 p.m. The $60 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, pastries and a contribution to the gift.

If residents would like to attend, they should make their check out to the “Summer Street School Sunshine Fund.” Residents should mail checks to Summer Street School, Attn: Cheryl Welsh, 262 Summer St., Lynnfield MA 01940 by Monday, April 25.