Her stories about her dogs will always endure. Miss Nancy, “Happy Days” Teacher
of teachers, was tough as nails, with a tender heart. Her innovations, signature style, and new takes on old traditional games, holiday fun, and classical art projects with young children set precedents in the little red and yellow school, set back and nestled in a cluster of trees.
When she first came three decades earlier, it was not uncommon to witness more rural sights, horses and their owners sauntering in the open green, and over golden hillsides. Through the generations, she made the “blarney stone”, the Rainbow Bridge and the Lone Ranger come alive, as well as “save the earth” day. Each year she hid magical dinosaur eggs for the children to find, crack open, and to their delight discover a tiny toy dinosaur hidden inside. She called plastic bags “the scourge of the earth.”
Music time with her was amazing as she held captive a group of children as young as two years old with her spontaneous singing, expressive dialogue, in-between songs, and authenticity. Her charisma won over the shyest and newest students. Also, not to be forgotten, her black and white movies from the fifties about horses, cowboys, and an Indian named, “Tonto.” She had the gift of narration, and a way with the remote that added to the fun; with the expertise and zeal of a tour guide on a colorful safari, she transitioned her young audience from one scene to another, keeping the spark of their interest alive; not an easy feat with 2-4 year old viewers.
A hands-on teacher, witty, passionate, and descriptive, she taught the children life lessons about accountability, the treasures of the rain forests, and compassion toward the smallest of creatures, along with their “A, B, and C’s.” Hers was the first face parents saw, and the first voice they heard greeting them, as they dropped off their little ones in the early morning hours. When a child came in downcast, or tearful, she cheered or silenced them with an interesting fact, authentic joke, or anecdote that would put Mom or Dad at ease, as well, and smiles on everyone’s faces.
With her wide range in music, and appreciation for the classics, we were all treated to oldies, bagpipes, cowboy favorites, and hauntingly beautiful music, such
as the theme to “Dancing with Wolves,” and new sounds from old cultural icons, such as Paul McCartney during his special tour of London.
Miss Nancy stunned, educated, and fascinated parents and staff along with the students, as she was clued in about the latest in animal stories, stranger than life tales gathered from her own personal life, and international news. Everyone remembers her openness, memory and eclectic knowledge of even the smallest details.
All of us will grieve for Miss Nancy, and remember her with tears, special stories, and humor. I share my condolences with her family, and stand in unity with the community of parents and generations of children who have loved her.
We, her friends and fellow teachers, will cherish her, admire her contributions, and celebrate her pioneer spirit. As both a friend and co-teacher, I personally enjoyed working with her, gleaning new ideas, sharing laughs, and learning something new from her each and every day. We love you Miss Nancy!
Cynthia Lamanna honors the memory of all dedicated, creative, hardworking teachers. She may be reached at