Lynn Tech students and colleagues of Jay Richards, one by one and some in groups, stopped by the desk in front of the large clock in the school lobby on their way to their Thanksgiving break.
There was something symbolic to it all, so many saying, “Thank you, Mr. Richards,” on the eve of the holiday and on the final day of his 28-year career as a beloved plumbing instructor at the Lynn Tech Vocational Institute.
Joe Skeadas, director of athletics and a culinary arts teacher at Tech, was among those saluting Jay Richards’s positive influence on the faculty and student body.
“It was Jay who helped me get hired as a teacher at Tech with his recommendation,” recalled Skeadas. “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Jay. I started at Tech in 1989 and here I am 25 years later and I’m grateful to Jay for what he’s done for me personally, our students, our athletes, and our school.”
The good news is that Jay Richards will be staying on at Tech as boys lacrosse head coach. He will also finish out his role as senior class adviser with his wife, Colleen Richard, who also works at Tech.
“It’s a very good day,” said Mrs. Richards, tears in her eyes. “Jay is a great teacher and a great guy and I love him. I know he’ll miss it but he’ll still be around.”
The Richards’s son, Jared, will be carrying on the family banner in the field of education. Jared is a mathematics teacher and golf and lacrosse coach at Northeast Regional in Wakefield.
Jay Richards said, “It’s been a great run. It all started years ago when Al DiVirgilio asked me if I wanted to be a teacher. He was the inspiration that got me going. Dr. George Laubner was superintendent of schools at the time when I was hired and Robert McManus was the school director.”
Richards also served on the faculty under directors Al Malagrifa, Bart Conlon, Dr. Brian Coughlin, Jim Ridley, and Diane Paradis, and current acting director Robert Buontempo.
“Jay did a great job here,” said Buontempo. “I wish him all the best in his retirement.”
To Jay Richards’s lasting credit and ability to deliver top-caliber training each day in the classroom, close to 80 of his students went on to achieve certification as plumbers. He is proud of that distinction and of the hundreds of Tech alumni to whom he instructed and provided career advice.
Richards said he returned for a brief visit to the school this week. “I miss the kids. They all flocked around me to tell me that they miss me. It’s a weird feeling, getting up for 28 years and going to that building and now I’m getting up and not going there.”