If you want to find John Custer this summer, head to the ocean.

“I don’t like to leave the Vineyard in the summer, so I don’t have any travel plans. I love being here, just being on the water or in the water fishing,” the Tisbury School principal said.

After shepherding the school through the school renovation campaign and the pandemic this past year, Mr. Custer is savoring a more typical vacation.

“This summer so far feels significantly more relaxing than the previous two summers,” he said.

A little over two weeks ago, Tisbury voters approved the school renovation project, bringing to a close a long journey that began with a proposal to build a new school that was defeated at the polls in 2018. In June, voters backed the renovation project in a landslide, 821-224.

“I was here [at the school] and then when the polls closed, I didn’t want to be here because I don’t really like being in public for that type of thing, good or bad,” he said, recalling the evening of June 22. “So I was driving home . . . and I hadn’t even left the neighborhood and our school committee chair, Amy Houghton, called me and said, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I’m driving home.’ And she said, ‘It passed, it wasn’t close, come back.’”

Mr. Custer attended the Tisbury School as a child. — Ray Ewing

A former Tisbury student himself, few know the Tisbury School quite like John Custer.

“I have a lot of fond memories from time spent in this building as a student, and now I’ve worked here for 17 years, 10 as principal,” he said.

A native Islander and the son of a former Vineyard school superintendent, it seems natural that Mr. Custer would seek out a career in education. However, he said it wasn’t obvious to him at first.

“[My father] was superintendent for four years before he retired in 1995, and I coincidentally moved back to the Vineyard that summer, when I was 25 years old, for what I thought was going to be one final summer on the Vineyard before I moved off and pursued something else. And I’ve never left after that.”

He said his father’s passion for his career left an indelible mark.

“I saw the joy that working in education brought him,” Mr. Custer said.

Mr. Custer started as a teaching assistant at the West Tisbury School, and said that the work “just agreed” with him. “People who work in schools, they’ve got something figured out because kids are a lot of fun.”

Since stepping into the role of principal in 2011, Mr. Custer says he’s become a better collaborator.

“When I became principal, I remember feeling a huge responsibility, and . . . I didn’t want to burden people unnecessarily. So I probably took on too much myself,” he said. “Over the years, you recognize the talent that’s around you.”

In September, Mr. Custer begins his 11th year leading the Tisbury School. He said he is looking forward to returning to a post-Covid landscape at the school, and getting started on the renovation.

“In terms of the building project, what’s ahead of us, it’s exciting but we also know there’s going to be a lot of work, likely some significant disruption, but it’s positive work.”

Outside of his job at the school, Mr. Custer serves as president of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby.

“I could talk about fishing for days,” he said. “The derby, that’s a great organization. This year, we gave $76,000 to nine graduates of the high school.”

But once again, the limelight does not come naturally to him.

“I’m not very comfortable with much public attention. I have to fake it a lot,” he said. “But I’m proud to be associated with the Tisbury School and with the derby. They are two things I love very much.”