Monday profile: Lacey's love leads to St. Paul's

June 24, 2013 10:08:38 AM

Sarah Fowler - sfowler@cdispatch.com

 

When Jennet "Jen" Lacey left the classroom last year, she didn't know she would be returning so soon. 

 

Lacey retired from the Columbus Municipal School District in December 2012 and less than four months later was hired as the director for St. Paul's Episcopal Preschool. 

 

"I decided I didn't like retirement as much as I thought I would," Lacey said. "Every day here is full of joy." 

 

Born in Ohio but raised in Jacksonville, Ala., Lacey moved to Columbus in 1973 to attend Mississippi University for Women. For the most part, she's been in Columbus ever since. She earned her degree in elementary education and in 1977 went to work at the child development center on the MUW campus. After teaching briefly in the Aliceville, Ala., public school system, she returned to teach at Stokes-Beard Elementary before retiring from Franklin Elementary. 

 

For Lacey, retirement was bittersweet. "I enjoyed every moment with the children," she said. 

 

An avid knitter and quilt maker, Lacey had planned to take some time to slow down. However, when St. Paul's came calling, the church where she is a longtime member, Lacey saw it as an opportunity to get back in the classroom. 

 

"It was just one of those God things," she said. 

 

"The little ones have always been my greatest love and it's wonderful to get back to the roots of it." 

 

St. Paul's preschool program currently has 60 children ranging in age from six weeks to four years old. 

 

Now, instead of standing at the front of a classroom, more often than not, you can find Lacey sitting on the floor of the preschool playing with a child. 

 

"It is so much fun to be able to come in and sit on the floor and watch them develop so fast," she said. 

 

In the few short months that she has been the director, Lacey said she has already seen changes in the children. 

 

"We have some that have started walking since then," she said. "There is just such joy to see how fast they progress. You forget that when you are in a school situation, but every day here you see a child learn something new." 

 

Not only is her love for the children obvious but Lacey is quick to gush about her staff and the children's parents as well. 

 

"With such a gifted staff it's just a pleasure to be able to come to work," she said. "We take care of the children and we love the children and the parents know that. It's an honor to be able to have that trust." 

 

While her new title was unexpected, Lacey said she is thankful for the opportunity to not only get to work with children again but to be able to do so in a religious environment. 

 

"At this time in my life it was just an unexpected opportunity to serve children still, but also serve in a religious environment," she said. 

 

For each child she teaches, Lacey sees it as an opportunity to touch a life. 

 

"Our church considers the school as a mission. We want to serve the children of the community. We strive to make it a diverse loving environment that the children can grow in."

Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah