Longtime Tenney Grammar School teacher and principal Mary Beth Donovan-Grassi has barely tipped her toe into retirement, but she’s already back to serving Methuen on behalf of its schools and students.

On March 20, during a special meeting of the Methuen School Committee, she was chosen to serve out the third and final 2-year term of School Committee member Louann Santos who resigned from her elected role in February due to family issues.

School Committee members Laurie Keegan, Kristen Maxwell, Dan Shibilia and Ken Willette voted for Donovan-Grassi, while member Ryan DiZoglio voted for nominee Frank Surillo. Committee Chair Neil Perry instructed Donovan-Grassi to get sworn in by the city clerk prior to the March 25 School Committee workshop.

Donovan Grassi retired Dec. 31 after 24 years of teaching at and leading the Tenney. She is also an elected member of the Nevins Library Board of Trustees.

In November’s election, seven candidates ran for six School Committee seats. Newcomer Alesandra Winnet came in seventh, garnering 155 votes. Following Vice Chair Santos’ February resignation, Perry (who is also School Committee chair) told MethuenLife that Winnet fell short of the 20% required minimum votes to take a seat on the committee.

Instead, the mayor – unilaterally or with School Committee members – can select a member to replace Santos.

“(Alesandra) did not get 20 percent required so the School Committee selects a candidate,” explained Perry. “If I understand the lawyers correctly, I could choose – as senior member of the committee in terms of service and age – but we’ll discuss and come to a collective decision.”

Santos was two months into her third and final term on the School Committee, a role she truly embraced. She and husband Greg have three grammar-school-age children.

Through the years, Perry has publicly commended Santos on her positivity and upbeat attitude. Upon the announcement of her resignation, he had nothing but praise for Santos.

“She was heart and soul all about improving Methuen Public Schools in every way; from better lunches to improving communication and ensuring the voice of the parent was heard. She will be missed,” said the mayor.

Online, Santos thanked the community for their support. She also left the door open to a future public service role, writing, “Maybe one day in the future I’ll consider trying to return …”