AVON — In the late 1950s, while a third-grader at St. Agnes School, Vicki Rose — then Vicki Annis — first displayed signs that a career in teaching laid ahead.
"That’s when I started playing ‘school’ every day," she recalled.
As it turned out, Rose not only went into education but spent nearly all of her career — 44 years, to be exact — right at St. Agnes.
Rose, 69, entered into retirement at the end of the 2015-16 school year after serving St. Agnes as both a teacher and principal.
"I never wanted to go anywhere else," she stated when asked if she had considered other positions in education over the years.
Rose, who graduated from St. Agnes in 1961, said her positive experiences as a student there helped shape her ultimate career choice. She praised the efforts of several Sisters of St. Joseph on the faculty, giving special credit to her third-grade teacher, Sister Maria Pacelli Bernardo, who passed away this past May 8 after serving her religious order for 75 years.
Rose went on to graduate in 1965 from the former St. Agnes High School, an all-girls’ institution in Rochester. She obtained her degree in education from SUNY Geneseo, then taught for three years in the Livonia Central School District before returning in the fall of 1972 to teach at her Catholic alma mater in Avon.
She stayed rooted to St. Agnes for the next four-plus decades, teaching prekindergarten through third grade during her lengthy tenure. She also was St. Agnes’ principal from 1989-97, serving as immediate predecessor to Dr. Gerry Benjamin, who himself has just retired (see story on page B7.)
Rose attributes her longevity at St. Agnes to "a sense of preservation — wanting it to be preserved for the future, to give kids an opportunity like those before them had," she said. The school, located at 60 Park Place on the main circle of this northern Livingston County village, dates back to 1875.
Rose added that she has never tired of working with younger children, saying she’s able to connect with them by viewing the world from their perspective.
"Maybe I have to think like a child, which is what I’ve always tried to do," she said, adding that other key ingredients for effective teaching are "a dose of patience and an acceptance of every child where they’re at."
The longtime educator said she’s particularly satisfied about "being able to work with families through the generations. It’s quite a great thing to see. There’s a sense of dedication on the part of parents and the (St. Agnes) parish, to make sacrifices for the school. It’s always amazed me, their loyalty."
Rose’s own loyalty toward St. Agnes will remain on display during the 2016-17 school year, as entering retirement is not signaling a total good-bye on her part. An Avon resident, she said she feels good physically and is looking forward to volunteering in the school library one day per week and substitute teaching as needed. As for the additional free time now available to her through retirement, several possibilities await.
"I have too many books, too much yarn, a new loom, a full attic to empty out and a house to sell," she remarked.