North Adams Transcript
WILLIAMSTOWN -- For the past 23 years, Nancy LaValley has taught some of the town’s youngest students as a member of the staff at the Williamstown Community Preschool.
She began by teaching three-year-olds in the Panda Room, and for the past 15 years, she has been the lead teacher in the Bunny Room, which includes children ages 15 months to 2 years and 9 months.
"It’s kind of my niche," LaValley said Thursday. "I always wanted to be a teacher."
On March 2, LaValley, 62, will retire from teaching after over 25 years in the field.
"It’s just time," LaValley, who lives in Williamstown, said. "I’ve had arthritis for quite a few years, and it’s starting to take its toll on me. I also have a growing family, and I want to spend more time with them."
She said teaching toddlers has been quite an adventure.
"When the children first come here, they’re just learning how to walk and speak," she said.
A lot happens over the next 18 months, as the children learn to talk, play and understand directions, she said.
"When they’re ready for the preschool, they’ve grown so much," she said.
It’s also fun to watch the older children in the class try to teach the younger ones the routine, she said.
Prior to teaching at the Williamstown Community Preschool, LaValley taught third grade for a year at a school in Rhode Island.
She then took time off to raise a family, and eventually went to work at the Williams College preschool (now the Williams College Children’s Center).
"I went to North Adams State College [now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts], and that is where I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees," she said.
While she was doing her undergraduate work, her advisor, Ray Sullivan, suggested that because she was good at math, she might want to go into the emerging field of computers, which he thought might be big someday, she said.
"I didn’t end up going where the money was, but went where my heart was," she said.
Besides teaching at the Williamstown Community Preschool, LaValley has also been its education coordinator for over 20 years.
Preschool Director Sue Hamblin said LaValley’s positions will be filled in-house.
"It will be a big void to fill. She did a lot, and wore many hats, always with a smile," Hamblin said. She added she will miss LaValley’s expertise and friendship.
LaValley said she will miss the children and her co-workers.
"I just love this place," she said. "I’ve seen a lot of families go through here, and a lot of siblings."
She is excited to begin the next chapter of her life, which will involve spending a lot more time with her family, and helping out with her grandchildren, the youngest of whom was born last week.
LaValley and her husband, Steve, have also raised foster children over the years.
"It was a big part of my life," LaValley said.
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