Behind the Apple Linda Lacey, Summerville Elementary School
Linda Lacey, 57, of Ravenel, grew up in Holly Hill and graduated from the College of Charleston with a BS in Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education.
She began her career student teaching at Summerville Elementary School and 36 years later, she is still teaching there.
SES has been the foundation of her adult life. She even met her husband there.
“His mother was the principal here when I student taught,” she says. “She hired me in 1978 and she retired in 1982.”
Immersed in a family of educators, Lacey says her mother’s influence is what made her want to teach.
“Mom was an incredible teacher and she taught me love and passion for education and the possibilities it opens up for children.”
Her mother was a high school English and history teacher who continued working for the school district after her retirement until she was 86 years old.
“She died when she was 90,” added Lacey. “She officially retired when she was 64 but continued writing grants, newspaper articles, etc.” for 22 years after her retirement.
“She was such an advocate for public education.”
Both of her grandparents taught on her mother’s side and her father’s family was also full of teachers.
“In North Carolina [where her father was from] they did an article on his family of teachers who cumulatively had 500 years in education.
“I was immersed in it!”
At SES she has taught junior first grade and compensatory first grade which helps at risk children who are not quite ready to catch up to their peers. She has taught in the Reading Recovery Program and loved it.
“It was the most powerful thing I have ever done professionally,” she says.
It is a one-on-one with children struggling with reading.
“It really fired my passion for reading and gave me a deeper understanding of what children need to become strong readers.”
She worked with Reading Recovery and then as a literacy coach and then RTI – Response to Intervention – working with children in small groups.
But then the money ran out.
“I could have retired,” she says, “but I wasn’t ready.” Her principal offered her a kindergarten position – “which was what I had wanted to teach back in my student teaching days” – and she has taught kindergarten now for four years and loves it.
“I am still helping kids be ready to read.”
“I am blessed with Sherry White, my assistant, who allows me to be able to do important stuff I know I need to do with these kids…we make a powerful team.”
In addition to her teaching, she is grade chair, a member of the Lighthouse Team (SES is a 7 Habits leadership school and the 25th school in the nation to obtain lighthouse status.) and she has been a Teacher of the Year twice in 1989/90 and in 2006. In 2006 she was also one of the four finalists at the district level – a district honor teacher.
When asked about her worst experience she shakes her head and says, “believe it or not, in 36 years I don’t think I can pinpoint a worst experience. In this field you always learn from any experience and grow better at what you do.”
“Every year when the group walks out the door, to see the growth from when they started…it fills my heart. In some way, shape or form, I have the best experience, every day.”
Lacey’s professional goal is to teach as long as “I feel I have something to offer these children.” She still has plenty to offer.
She and her husband Jerry have two grown children – a daughter Meghan, 27, and son-in-law Brandon, and a son Josh, 30, and daughter-in-law Lynnsey.
They are also parents to Eddie a Springer/Jack Russell mix and have three “granddogs” – Bo, a yellow Lab; Lacey, a chocolate Lab; and Belle, a Chihuahua.
She loves gardening and working in the yard, she says, and cleaning and organizing her house. “I enjoy seeing it done and finished.”
Cooking is not a passion, although there are certain things she enjoys cooking.
Not surprisingly, she loves to read.
She and her husband enjoy going out to dinner but mostly having cookouts and family gatherings at their home in the country.
Her life goal, she says, is to always be as fair and honest as possible and keep a positive outlook. “Negativity can be so detrimental.”