CVU teaching couple retires after 36 years (6/25/09)

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

It’s been less than two weeks since the close of school at Champlain Valley Union High School, and longtime teachers Pamela and Alexander “Sandy” Lord are already in the full swing of retirement. Their kayaks are ready for Lake Champlain and their motorcycles are prepared to hit the back roads of Vermont this summer.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Pamela and Alexander ‘Sandy’ Lord, who recently retired from Champlain Valley Union High School, pose in their backyard.

While the Shelburne couple have embraced their newfound free time, they said they’ll miss teaching at CVU and the joys of working with high school students.

“I’ve always had a real connection with teenagers since I started teaching,” Sandy Lord said.

The Lords taught at CVU for 36 years, with Sandy actually teaching a few months longer than Pamela after he was hired halfway through the 1972-1973 school year. Prior to teaching at CVU, Pamela taught for five years at other schools, including Vergennes High School and the Weeks School, a former reform school in Vergennes.

During her tenure at CVU, Pamela Lord taught family and consumer sciences. Her husband was a business, economics and social studies teacher.

Pamela Lord specialized in teaching students everything from healthy eating habits to fashion design. She also instructed students on independent living, including how to find apartments and how to balance checkbooks. She described all her classes as basic “life skills.”

“When students finished with one of my classes, they ended up getting skills that set them for life,” Pamela Lord said.

She said in recent years, her healthy eating classes became more and more popular, even when she became a part-time teacher the past two years.

The two met at the University of Vermont in the late 1960s, with Pamela Lord earning a bachelor of science in agricultural and life sciences, and her husband receiving an education degree. Sandy Lord also earned a master of business administration in corporate finance and began teaching economics, a subject that continues its relevance.

“There’s always been a good demand for economics classes,” he said.

When Sandy Lord started teaching, he didn’t intend on sticking with the profession. He thought he might enter the corporate business world, but discovered he loved working with students. In the 1980s, he took a two-year hiatus to work in the financial securities industry, but found himself wanting to return to the classroom.

“I realized how much I enjoyed teaching,” he said.

The Lords have noticed many changes at CVU since they started teaching in the early 1970s. While “teenagers are teenagers,” they said the world students currently live in continues to move faster.

“You can see them using technology in a really different way,” Pamela Lord said. “It’s even affected the way we teach.”

Both plan on staying active in their retirements. Sandy Lord said he will take more of a “hands on” approach to his investments, as well as continue to improve the house they built and designed in the 1980s. He also wants to volunteer at local organizations and might even substitute teach at CVU to stay connected to students. Both also hope to spend more time visiting their two daughters.

Pamela Lord has already started her own business, called Pamela Creations. She’ll build upon her design skills in creating clothing for women and hopes to take part in a few area craft shows this summer.

In their free time, the Lords plan to continue their adventurous streak. They plan to travel to the Pacific Northwest and Southeast Asia in the next few years. They also hope to continue their love of scuba diving. The Lords have been diving for 20 years and have explored the waters of the Caribbean and Central America.

“We’re not slowing down, that’s for sure,” Pamela Lord said.