South Shore Stars leader will retire after long career in education

South Shore Stars leader will retire after long career in education

South Shore Stars leader will retire after long career in education


Sheri Adlin of South Shore Stars will retire after 26 years at the helm.

Jessica Trufant
| The Patriot Ledger

NAME: Sheri Adlin


IN THE NEWS: Adlin is retiring at the end of February after serving 26 years as the executive director of South Shore Stars, a nonprofit that provides early education and youth development programs around the South Shore.

NOW YOU KNOW: During a team-building trivia game, Adlin said she learned she was the only one at the nonprofit who had ever spent the night in jail. Adlin was arrested in 1971 at an anti-Vietnam War protest in Washington D.C. While many of the others arrested were college students, she was a working kindergarten teacher at the time. 

HER STORY: While in her senior year at the University of New Hampshire, Sheri Adlin said she signed up for a creative dramatics class, which seemed fun and an easy way to fill in some of her final college credits. As a requirement, Adlin said she went into a local daycare a few times a week to entertain the children as the “magic lady,” as she called it. 

She said she was a little surprised when the teacher at the daycare center left suddenly, and the director offered Adlin the position.

“It was brave of her given that I was going to be a brand new college graduate who hadn’t taken any teaching classes,” said Adlin, now 70.

After teaching, Adlin went on to work for South Shore Stars in the early 1970s, and served as the director for a new center the agency opened in Hingham.

She went on to get a masters degree and left teaching in a hands-on sense to work in state government. She served as the Assistant Secretary of Human Services under Governor Michael Dukakis, where she wrote the landmark Governor’s Daycare Partnership Act.

“It was a very broad look at the role of state government in developing a statewide quality control system,” she said. “We ended up with 40 recommendations, many of which were ultimately implemented.”

Some of those recommendations are still evident today. For example, a statewide system for referrals for childcare still exists.

“We focused on staffing and salaries, things that are still issues today. But we made inroads,” Adlin said.

Adlin also worked at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children before returning to South Shore Stars, then called South Shore Day Care Services.

When Adlin started her tenure at executive director, the organization served 230 children. Now, the organization serves up to 1,200 children annually. She said the nonprofit is like a large family, and there are many staff members who have been there as long or longer than she has.

“All the research shows that when you look at what makes a quality program, longevity has proven very important,” she said. “We’re very proud of the work we do.”

While there has been more national attention to and investment in early children childhood education lately, Adlin said it hasn’t been nearly enough. She said the last time there was near consensus by government leaders was in 1971, when Congress passed a bill to create federally funded, universal child care and President Richard Nixon vetoed it. 

“That was the last time there has been a national push,” she said, adding that she thinks that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration could start to look at the issue again. “I think there  is going to be a lot of attention on programs like Stars.”

As for her retirement, Adlin said she has no big plans other than taking the time to enjoy it.

“I’ve been telling people that I’m just going to ‘be,’ ” she said. “I have a very nice rocking chair on my porch.”


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