In a career that spanned 44 years at Bishop Stang High School, Theresa E. Perry Dougall (1946-2016) was known as a distinguished teacher, department head, coach, and administrator. In 1987, “Terry” was appointed principal of Bishop Stang High School, and then the school’s first president in 1994. Terry started the financial aid program at Bishop Stang because she believed that any student who wanted to be a Stang Spartan should be granted that opportunity.
It is difficult to identify the greatest contribution of someone who dedicated her entire career to the ministry of Catholic education, especially when the list of outstanding contributions is so extensive. Theresa E. Perry Dougall (1946-2016), known to many as Terry, spent her entire 44-year career at Bishop Stang High School, where she was known as a distinguished educator, coach, and later, administrator. Terry received many awards for her great impact on the school and her students. Among the many were Boston Globe Field Hockey Coach of the Year, League Coach of the Year, Sigma Xi Society of UMass Dartmouth’s Teacher of the Year, the Diocese of Fall River Distinguished Educator Award, and the National Catholic Education Association’s Catholic Secondary Education Award. Despite these many recognitions, Terry’s greatest pride was in the connections she made mentoring students and student athletes.
Terry was born in New Bedford on December 3, 1946 to Azorean parents Lionel and Mary (Ponte) Perry. Terry was proud of her Portuguese heritage. She was an only child though she never felt like one, as she was surrounded by a close-knit family. She began her Catholic education at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, where she learned the importance of faith and family. She then began her journey at Bishop Stang High School as a member of the Class of 1964 and gained a reputation as an outstanding scholar and athlete. Terry was skilled at field hockey and basketball and is often cited as one of the best female athletes to ever play as a Bishop Stang Spartan. After her graduation, Terry received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Stonehill College. She earned a Master of Education in secondary school administration from Bridgewater State College in May 1987.
Terry returned to Bishop Stang to begin her career as an educator. In her first years she taught science, theology, physical education and coached four varsity sports: field hockey, basketball, track, and softball. She was appointed the chairperson of the Science Department in 1970, a position she held until 1987. Terry earned several coach of the year titles and her teams won many state and league championships. Coach Dougall led the 1983 field hockey team to win the Division II State Championship, was named the Boston Globe Field Hockey Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1986, and League Coach of the Year in 1985 and 1986. Her students were exceptional scholars. Many of them credit her with their success in competitive college programs leading to medical school and advanced science degrees. Terry’s students regarded her as the perfect mix of encouraging and challenging, a combination that left a lasting impact on the lives of those she taught and coached throughout the years.
In 1987, Terry was appointed principal of Bishop Stang High School, and later became the school’s first president in 1994. As an administrator, Terry started the financial aid program at Bishop Stang. She recognized the importance of a Catholic education and believed that any student who wanted to be a Spartan should be granted that opportunity. She received numerous administrative awards throughout this time, and under her leadership Stang was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. In 2012, she was one of six recipients nationwide to receive the prestigious National Catholic Education Association’s Catholic Secondary Education Award. Terry was inducted into the Bishop Stang Hall of Honors in 2016 and the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.
While these awards are evidence of the great impact Terry had, her greatest impact has always been through touching the lives of those around her, whether student, peer, family, or friend. She strived to “make known the goodness of God,” as St. Julie Billiart called the faithful to do. Terry was always quick to offer heartfelt encouragement when needed. This left others feeling empowered to handle any challenge and accomplished when they succeeded. Lynne Vera described this impact in a letter thanking Terry, “Teamwork, discipline, investing in things that matter, working hard to get it right, caring deeply about people you love – these are a few of the lifelong lessons I thank Terry for.” Terry’s time at Bishop Stang also granted her lifelong friendships with her colleagues who she would come to regard as family. She found great joy in these relationships and was grateful to have friends and family who helped her grow closer to God. Her life and work had a lasting influence on all those who met her at Bishop Stang High School and, both locally and nationally, in the larger Catholic education community.
Terry retired from her role as president of Bishop Stang High School in 2012. She regarded her journey at Bishop Stang to be one of great reward, and one she was extremely grateful for. Terry was intent on enjoying her retirement by traveling with family and friends who had become family. However, she was soon diagnosed with myelofibrosis and her plans were changed. Despite this, Terry continued to be a force of love and inspiration to those close to her, as her faith remained strong throughout her courageous fight with her illness. Terry passed away on December 12, 2016, leaving behind an indelible mark on the lives of so many.
Terry dedicated her life to service through teaching, coaching, mentoring, and leading the school she cared so much about. She was very proud of her career in Catholic education and grateful for all of the ways that it allowed her to show the goodness of God to others. In her own words: “I’ve discovered how quickly life passes you by and the importance of making every day count. I am so grateful for the opportunity to spend so much of my life serving this school, its people and my God.”
Simone Payette, Bishop Stang High School, Class of ’17
Family and friends of Theresa Dougall