Orwell teacher bids farewell after 36 years

ORWELL — In the 36 years since Sally (Gilmore) DeLancey, 57, first set foot in the Orwell Village School to start work as a kindergarten teacher, a lot has changed.
DeLancey, who is retiring from her position this month, said she has seen curriculum pushed ahead by leaps and bounds, and children have been required to know more and more in their early years.
“When I started, it was mostly play,” said DeLancey of teaching kindergarten classes. “To go into first grade, they needed to know the names of the letters and how to count to 100. Now, to move to first grade, it’s more like a second-grade curriculum.”
Over the years, DeLancey has also taught first- and second-grade classes. She said she most wanted to work with the youngest children when she chose education as her field.
She recalled one day some years ago when her class was learning about the phases of the moon. After she explained that there was a new moon each month, one boy raised his hand.
“He asked me, ‘What do they do with the old moons?’” said DeLancey with a laugh.
Then there were the times when DeLancey explained that she lived on a lake and the children ran to the window to see where it was.
“(Young children) are so down to earth, so literal,” DeLancey said. “You never know what they’re going to come up with.”
The end of school this June will mark a bittersweet moment for DeLancey, who was 22 and just graduated from the University of Vermont when she accepted the job at the Orwell school.
DeLancey had started in the veterinary school at UVM, but she switched to teaching midway through. At UVM’s learning center, she said, “I just found my niche.”
At the time, she wasn’t thinking long-term. She accepted the job two weeks before the start of the school year, then ended up staying for 36 years.
After school ends DeLancey will head down to Kentucky, where her husband is already working on a house that the couple purchased.
“I am looking forward to the slower pace and a huge garden,” said DeLancey. “I’m not looking forward to venomous snakes.”
DeLancey said retirement will give her time to travel and visit relatives in Vermont — she’s originally from Tinmouth — and her grandson in Rochester, N.Y.
“This has been my second home for over half of my life,” she said. “It’s going to be strange in the fall to not come back to school, but I’m also looking forward to having some time for myself.”
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at [email protected].

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