Although it seems like Betsy Wilcox ’01 has always been here, she officially joined the lower school faculty at Harley this past September. Betsy is connected to Harley in so many ways. She is an alumna from the class of 2001, is a parent of Winnie in the Class of 2034, her partner is lower school faculty member Beth Fox (Music, 2007-present), and she is the daughter of Len Wilcox, recently retired math guru after over 40 years at Harley.
As a student, Betsy and her brother, Colin ’98, were “here all the time” because their father often stayed after school, holding office hours or running student clubs. In Upper School, they participated in a variety of after-school sports. Betsy was a three-sport athlete, going from soccer to swimming to softball, depending on the season. After she graduated, you would often see Betsy stopping to visit her dad, and then Beth after she was hired in 2007. In 2019, she and Beth became Harley parents and she was here as often as her schedule would allow.
Just before she was hired at Harley, Betsy had been at Full Heart Child Care for the past three years, was recently promoted to a classroom Education Specialist and feeling really good both personally and professionally. In fact, she told her partner that the only reason she would leave her current position would be if she was able to get her “dream job” teaching at Harley. Little did she know that dream was about to become a reality.
It was just one week before school and Nursery Blue teacher, Nancy Lindquist (Lower School, 1982-present), was informed that her co-teacher had taken another job. Terry Fonda Smith P ’21, Head of the Lower School (Lower School, 1994 to present), knew that Betsy, an education major at SUNY Geneseo, had been teaching preschool locally for the past 11 years, so she made the call and invited her in for an interview.
Now Betsy is working with Nancy Lindquist in Nursery Blue and her daughter is one of her students! She said it’s been fun having Winnie with her in the classroom. Winnie usually refers to her as “Ms. Wilcox” when addressing her at school, but sometimes calls her “Moshi” (her name at home) by accident. Some of the other students have caught on and are now calling Betsy by that name too, but she doesn’t mind one bit.
I asked how it is working with her partner in the same place and she said it’s nice to be together and share the same environment and some of the same experiences. They don’t have a ton of overlap, but when they do, it’s casual. For Betsy, Harley is a second home and the fact that her family is all here together makes it a perfect fit.
Harley has always been a community of strong, caring teachers and Betsy says a lot of her own teaching style was influenced by her Lower School teachers. In all of her previous jobs, her goal was always to build the classroom into a small community, like when she was a student at Harley. In college and work, she always looked for that and was most fulfilled with family and community collaboration. This is how she does her best work.
She continues to learn from her former teachers, especially the ones that are now her colleagues. Her current teaching partner, Nancy, was her teacher when she was in Nursery Blue, she had Ms. B (Kim Bednarcyk P ’16, 1981-present) in Nursery Red. She had Debbie Moore (1988-present), Tony Cinquino P ’06, ’10 (1979-present), Gail Hanss P ’13, ’22 (then Harrington, 1988-present), Margaret Tolhurst P ’12, ’15 (1992-present), and Marilyn Fenster (1984-present) as lower school teachers. She said it is is an honor to work with them and that it speaks well for Harley that so many of them are still here-she had them 30 years ago!
Now that she is here, she plans to follow in her father’s footsteps and stick with Harley for the long haul.