When Valorie McLaughlin ’75 came to the University of Redlands to earn her master’s degree in education, she was a stay-at-home mother taking a temporary break from teaching to raise her family.
“My older daughter [Suzanne] was just two years old, and I was expecting my younger daughter [Aimee] when I started,” says McLaughlin, who had taught fourth, seventh, and eighth grades in Alvord Unified School District in Riverside. “I was totally into motherhood, but I also loved studying.” McLaughlin kept a diary during this time when her children were little, which she later published as a book, Suzanne & Aimee.
As a School of Education student, McLaughlin blossomed in the U of R’s intimate classes and small group seminars. To this day, she recalls discussions on Jean Piaget’s child development theories with enthusiasm. A few years after receiving her master’s degree, McLaughlin returned to her alma mater to teach a curriculum class in the Hall of Letters, accompanied by her young daughters, who remember the building from those days.
Supervising yesterday’s student teachers
Before McLaughlin returned to full-time teaching, she met Barbara Phelps ’45, ’68 and began volunteering at Redlands Unified School District. Phelps became a friend and mentor in her career, providing her with hands-on experiences and special projects. When McLaughlin was set to retire after 31 years as a K-12 educator, Phelps—who had been a student-teacher supervisor at the University—encouraged her to consider also becoming a supervisor.
“Barbara knew I could encourage student teachers with helpful feedback,” McLaughlin says. During her 14-year tenure at the University, she supervised nearly 200 Bulldog student teachers, helping them with classroom management. “I wanted my students to develop their own teacher voices and styles,” she says. “Also, I told them that they were really teaching when they got their students to think.”
Supporting tomorrow’s student teachers
McLaughlin and her husband, Forrest Greek, have embarked on a journey of giving back to the schools where they each have special connections. It is a passion project for the couple, and they are approaching their philanthropy with excitement and thoughtfulness.
After consulting the U of R Development Office, McLaughlin started the Valorie McLaughlin Endowed Scholarship Fund for Student Teaching, which will provide financial support to aspiring teachers in perpetuity. As she grows the endowment, she also will make gifts that will enable the School of Education to begin awarding the scholarship later this year. Additionally, McLaughlin has included a provision for the scholarship in her trust.
A passionate lifelong learner like his wife, Greek has been alongside McLaughlin throughout the entire process. “Anytime we have discussed the scholarship, you can see the shot of animating energy in Valorie,” says Greek. “I am lifted up by that. It has been so exciting for both of us.” Greek is making similar gifts to Crafton Hills College.
McLaughlin is thrilled to re-engage with the School of Education. “Establishing these scholarships is an extension of my professional life,” says McLaughlin. “My passion is the process of teaching itself. Helping those becoming teachers was my passion as a supervisor, and that continues to find expression in the next chapter of my career.”
For information on how you can create an endowed scholarship at the University, please contact Tony Truong, assistant vice president for advancement, at 909-748-8358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.