Education

We are interested in understanding how women and girls in Worcester have experienced learning, both through formal institutions and through life experiences and relationships. This theme includes women and girls’ experiences within, and access to, schools and higher education, as well as other avenues to knowledge and skills.

Kathryn Crockett

Architect, Lamoureux Pagano & Associates

I was really fortunate to have landed the position at Lamoureux Pagano because that firm, I just fit with it.  It worked for me.  I was able to contribute and as I said, Dick Lamoureux and Mike Pagano were the ones who hired me.  They were the ones, principles of the firm, and they also—similar to my parents—I never once remember them saying, “Well you should do this because you are a women or only do this or….” There was none of that.  They encouraged me sort of in an objective way.  It was what skills I brought forward and what I could do.  They continually advanced my career as I was able to prove myself basically. So when I graduated it was 1993 and then the next step in terms of becoming an architect is becoming registered, you’re not done with your education. You have to have practical work experience.  You have to work within the field, at that time it was three years and then you could take the exam and the exam was a four or five day exam in Boston one day after another and it was all these different components including: structural engineering, programming, site design, building design, and so I studied for that.  I’d get up at 5:30 am every morning and study and then go into work—for a year—and then I went in to take this exam and in between I had my daughter so it was a lot going on at that point.  My daughter was born in 1993.  So that career is very intensive.  I think a lot of people think that architecture is a sort of, I don’t know,  a lot of people will come up to me and say, “I’ve always wanted to be an architect,” and I’ll say, “Well yeah, it’s a great career,” but  I don’t think most people understand what it takes to become and architect.  

Kathryn Crockett was born in 1957 in Pittsfield Massachusetts, and now works in Worcester, Massachusetts.  In this interview, she talks about her journey into the field of architecture, her thoughts on service to the community, and her love of education.  Kathryn is a motivated, hard working, loving mother and wife.  Education has always been an important aspect of Kathryn’s life.  She started her professional schooling at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she majored in American Studies.  After graduating, she began to work at the Worceste

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/03/2016
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Linda Raffaelle-Moyen

Nutrition, Health, and Education Professional

I majored in education, specifically Family and Consumer Science Education. And I graduated in 1979. I graduated magna cum laude. I always tried to excel and be perfect at everything. I thought that would give me that “over the rainbow life,” [laughs] but of course now I realize that was not the case.  So that was my major which was interesting because you know my parents weren’t that keen on the whole thing. So in my dad’s mind I think he thought, “Oh she’s going to school to learn how to be a housewife anyways.” [laughs] But it was funny. I used to drive this old car that would break down all the time and one of those days he had to come almost all the way out to Framingham to get the car.  He stops to get lunch and the guy at the coffee shop—you know my dad was friendly and talked to people and so he was talking about what he was doing out there, going to get my car at school.  And the guy asked what I was studying and he told him kind of, and this guy went on to tell him that, “You have no idea. Do you realize the classes she has to take?” And he started telling him, she’s got to take organic chemistry and she has to take all these psychology classes and started to tell him what I was really up to.  Not learning how to cook and sew or whatever.  And it was funny because after that I could see that he had a new perspective. He actually understood more and kind of took some pride in the fact that I was working and putting myself through college and doing well and all of that.

Linda Raffaele-Moyen was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1957. She attended Leominster High School and went on to study at Framingham State, married her high school sweetheart, and had three children. She later divorced and never remarried. Although her education led her to become a teacher, she ended up opening her own business in order to better support her family.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 02/19/2017
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Isabelle Jenkins

Associate Director of Community Based Learning, College of the Holy Cross

I would say the people are what makes Worcester so distinct. I think it’s a city filled with people who are really passionate about bridging difference. I spend a lot of time working with organizations that work with refugees and immigrants and that’s where I see Worcester shine the most. I think it is such a welcoming city in that sense and I think people are really great about opening their arms and minds to that. I feel like anybody who I know who’s lived in Worcester and has lived here for a long time, I just have never really seen in other places people have that much love for a place. Just really, there’s some sort of intimate connection people have with the physical you know place of Worcester that I think is really, really wonderful and inspiring and makes me want to engage with the city even more. And I’m just so lucky because I get to see so many different sides of the city with my job. You know I work with 35 community partners, I work a lot with Worcester public schools and a lot with like I was saying refugees and immigrants. I just see a lot of people who are really passionate about seeing this city—not only seeing this city becoming great, but believe that it’s already wonderful and great and, because it is. I mean it doesn’t necessarily look like, it’s not gentrified, it’s not it doesn’t look like downtown Boston, but I there’s so many great things about it already that it doesn’t need to be something different. I mean I do think all the influx of restaurants and the new construction’s great too, but I think, I just think it’s such a shining gem of a place and it’s wonderful to work with so many people who care very deeply about their neighbors. You know neighbors physically, but also just the people in their own community, so I think that’s what makes Worcester really special.

Isabelle Amy Jenkins was born in 1988. She grew up in both Gill, Massachusetts, and New Milford, Connecticut. Her childhood was slightly different from others, since her neighborhood was the boarding school where her mother worked. In her predominately white, middle class town, the boarding school brought diversity to New Milford. She attended the College of Holy Cross for her undergraduate degree and Harvard’s Divinity School for her graduate degree to become a chaplain.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/17/2017
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Lauren Grover

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Clinician

It means a lot.  I think it’s an opportunity for me to use my skills and my knowledge from my years of schooling, but I get to connect with people on an individual level on a daily basis, and really have the honor of [their] telling me their struggles, working through that with them, and giving them the skills to be their own therapist in the future so they don’t need to come back. It’s also really important to me to have work/life balance, because I do have two little kids, and the work I do gives me the ability to be home with them when I need to, and work when I want to.

Lauren Grover was born in1984, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and grew up in Holden, Massachusetts. At the time of the interview, she had been married for five years and had two children.  In 2003 she attended Assumption College to pursue a major in Psychology and a minor in Social Rehabilitation Services.  During her time at Assumption she volunteered at the Reach Out Center, which helped her to choose which career path she wanted to pursue.  Lauren also did internships during the summer, which allowed her to learn important lessons that she could apply to her career.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 03/02/2017
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Josephine Truesdell

Teacher at Bancroft School; Volunteer at Children's Friend

So, there is no question that when they come back, I remember. You know, as a teacher and that’s a long memory, so that’s pretty good. But the connections, there’s no question about it. The connections that you make with the children, with their families. I feel as though it’s—again, that community, and I think the parents—I feel very strongly in working in a partnership with parents. It’s vital. Absolutely vital. And so, we’ve been fortunate enough, at Bancroft, that I think that that connection happened and can happen at any school. I’m glad that can happen there. But, I think that working in a partnership with parents, on behalf of their children, is probably what I think has really meant a lot. And the children, they are so unique and I always feel that there’s a child, with problems or misbehaving, or whatever, I used to say, “Okay, what am I doing? Why is that happening?” It’s not, “I’ve got to figure it out.” It’s not that the child has to figure it out, I have to figure it out how to get to that child. And so that’s that puzzle, that’s what keeps it always exciting I think, “What can I do?”  

Josephine Truesdell was born in 1954 in Worcester, Massachusetts and has lived in Worcester her entire life. She has lived a life of service as a teacher to young children, a grief counselor at Children’s Friend, and a volunteer/member of multiple boards within the city. In this interview, Josephine stresses the importance of family and discusses how Worcester has always been a place with influential women.

Interview Date: 
Sat, 09/24/2016
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Laura Porter

Freelance Writer and Editor

I have a lot to say about women and education. I think there is such pushes to—I don’t even know how to put this. I think that my biggest challenge from kindergarten to defending my PhD thesis. Why don’t you talk more? Why don’t you smile more? Right, I think there’s such—it’s hard to crack past that. It’s hard to yell over the guy who’s saying nothing, but saying a lot of it and getting all the attention. I think that’s really tough. And I found that and some of it is personality and some of it is gender.  There’s plenty of women who are falling off their chairs answering questions, but I found that the professors I worked with, it wasn’t really male culture it was either patronizing or it was diminishing. I could not wait till when I came here. And Mark got his job and he was teaching, and I was finishing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of Princeton. Smith was fine [laughs]. Smith should have prepared me for the rest of it.

Laura Smith Porter was born in 1958 and raised in Illinois. After pursuing her undergraduate degree at Smith College, she continued her education at Princeton University. At Princeton, she met her husband Mark Richmond. After living in various areas, Mark was offered a job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In 1985, they settled down in Worcester, near Indian Lake. In this interview, Laura discusses the obstacles that she faced throughout her education and her career.  Growing up as an only child, the early deaths of her parents inspired her to become a writer.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/08/2016
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Susan Navarre

Executive Director of the Fitchburg Historical Society

I belonged to the Women's Alliance which was a feminist group that I wanted to see what that was like.  So we would end up talking about what we were studying a lot and that always—I learned about myself.  That was always beneficial for me because I learned about myself. Even in my current jobs I still see this.  It’s sort of the abstract ideas that give me energy again.  Like what I do in my job to a great extent is supervise a whole bunch of volunteers and supervise employees and write grants and do budgets and write fundraising letters and all these things. But when I want to sort of get energized again about doing it, and I love doing all that stuff, and I'm not really a scholar, but if I go and I read in the field, like if I go and do some research to present a talk, if I do some historical research, or when I was working running an art center, I would go to the college art association and just hear art history [laughs].  That gave me a bunch of energy and so for me that was a big part of the mentoring groups there. 

Susan Navarre was born in Wyandotte, Michigan in 1959 and recently moved to Worcester County in 2013. She grew up in a small town where she was able to walk to school and enjoyed playing with her neighborhood friends. She stood out academically as she was a bright student and spoke out in class when women were not expected to do so. She is very career driven and has lived all over the country as well as traveling to Europe several times.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/14/2016
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Nancy Johnson

Professor of Education, Worcester State University

Find out what your potential is and build on it, and always have a secondary skill that you can fall back on, and go to conferences, get out, make connections, network. I can’t express the importance of networking, especially in women's groups.  I try to do that. Once you get out of your environment and go into a different, a whole different—a national conference, and you get so excited and people come back so elevated.  And so what if you’re energetic? If you a win a few, lose a few, you know?  At least you made a start and you’re a changed individual.

Nancy Johnson was born in Worcester, Massachusetts at Hahnemann hospital in 1932 and graduated from Clark University with a major in Romance Languages and a master’s in education.  She earned a doctorate from Boston University. As a language major, her desire was to be an interpreter at the United Nations.  However, she decided to continue her studies and become a teacher.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 09/27/2016
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Susan Sweeney

Professor, College of the Holy Cross; Former President Worcester County Poetry Association

I sort of feel what happened in my poems, I write about hurt, and I wonder maybe—and sadness, especially hurt in my poems—because other people in my family couldn’t.  I think that’s why I write or why I have things to write about because I’m feeling [what] other people are not able to express, but also I’m expressing things for them.

Susan Elizabeth Sweeney was born in 1958 in Hagerstown, Maryland. She attended Mount Holyoke College and earned an MFA in poetry and a Ph.D in American Literature from Brown University. Susan lived in North Brookfield for a short time and moved to Worcester to have the opportunity to become an active member of the community. She is a former president of the Worcester County Poetry Association and was on the marketing committee for the Worcester Women’s History Project and the dedicated editor of their newsletter.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 11/12/2015
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Coralie O'Connor

Swimmer, 1952 Olympics; Physical Education Teacher

There wasn’t any swim team for girls back then. My parents were able to talk the swim coach at the Lincoln Square Boys Club into having me coming down and it would be just me. He would watch me swim and make corrections. And then give me a workout to do, which I would try to get done, at the Whitinsville Community Center. The YW [YWCA] found their pool on Chatham Street was donated to with the stipulation that there would be no girls competitive swim team. If they wanted to do synchronized swimming, that was okay, but you couldn’t do no racing. So, the only time I could get in there would be when there was an open swim, and then I would have to swim around people to do a lane. And my coach at Lincoln Square Boys Club would call my house and say, “The executive director’s not here today, I can sneak you in.” [laughs] So, then I’d rush down to the Boys Club and have him watch me. And he’d give me a workout and sometimes I would be doing it with the boys on the Boy’s Club team.

Coralie O’Connor, who swam in the 1952 Olympics in Finland, was born in Worcester in 1934, and had an older brother and an older sister. All of her immediate family has passed; she is the only one left. Swimming was a big part of her life, and she participated in her first swim competition when she was just 12 years old. She attended Purdue University for four and one half years. She participated and swam on club swim teams. As there were not many opportunities for women to swim back then, she even swam on a boys’ team one time.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/17/2015
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