2024 Maroon and Grey Celebration Loretta “Laurie” Jeffreys

As a parent of children and grandchildren who went through the State College Area Schools, with a decade of service on the school board and a decade in the classroom as a teacher, Loretta “Laurie” Jeffreys says she was proud to be a part of this excellent school district.

The Jeffreys moved to State College in 1965, but Laurie was born and raised in Binghamton, New York. She was the youngest of five children raised by her mother and maiden aunt after her father died when she was two years old. She remembers crying by the window watching her siblings walk to school when she was four because she couldn’t join them. Early on, she decided she wanted to be a teacher, but that dream had to wait. She was the first of her siblings to go to college, encouraged by her elementary and high school teachers. 

Laurie graduated from Binghamton North High School in 1955, from Sacramento Junior College with a major in math in 1957, and from the University of California at Berkeley in 1959 with a B.A. in English Literature.  She chose to go to California for college because she could live with her older sister there. California colleges were tuition-free at that time, charging only minor student fees.  A few months after she joined them, her sister’s family was transferred to Nevada. Laurie found housing with an elderly woman in exchange for light housework and cooking, and additional work at the school bookstore and library in Junior College. In Berkeley, she rented an apartment with friends and worked in the Library 18-20 hours a week to graduate.

Laurie had always wanted to be a teacher, but you couldn’t major in education as an undergraduate at Berkeley. Returning home after graduation she worked for a year with the Broome County, NY Department of Welfare as a case worker.  She saw how poverty affected people’s lives, especially children’s.  When the opportunity to get a Masters in Education at SUNY Cortland opened, she enrolled, and in September joined some of her elementary school teachers, teaching 4th grade at her old elementary school.  The following year she taught 4th grade in the Port Jervis, NY school system.  On February 2, 1962, she and David Jeffreys, an aeronautical engineer who was in the Army, were married. Laurie received her Masters in Education that summer.

Once David’s tour of duty ended, they settled in Burlington, Vermont, where their first two children, Katherine (Katie) and David Jr., were born. In 1965 David was hired by HRB Singer, (now Raytheon), moving their family to the State College area where daughters Elizabeth (Betsy), Susan, and Charlotte soon joined their family.  Laurie became heavily involved in the Cooperative Playschool when Katie joined the three-year-old class, and in the Houserville – Lemont PTA, and the Corl Street PTA as all five children went through school. When Charlotte was a year old, Laurie enrolled at Penn State to earn a Ph.D. in Education Administration, graduating in 1983. 

In 1975 a candidate for the State College Area School Board was running on a “Back to the Basics” platform. Laurie strongly believed that art, music, and extra-curricular activities were parts of a basic education, and she decided to become a candidate. Once elected, Laurie served six-year and four-year terms on the board. During most of those years, she served as the district’s representative to Central Intermediate Unit 10. With liberal leanings, Laurie argued successfully to put seat belts on school buses and against taking Our Bodies, Our Selves off the shelves of the high school library. To this day she is appalled by book banning of age-appropriate books in the curriculum and on library shelves. In 1985 she decided that ten years of her opinion on the school board was enough and didn’t run for a third term.  Knowing her true love was teaching, Laurie returned to the classroom five years later, substituting, and then teaching at Corl Street and Easterly Parkway elementary schools for a total of ten years. “I loved teaching and enjoyed the people I worked with,” she said. 

Laurie’s concern for future generations, including her five grandchildren, led her to join the Centre County Senior Environmental Corps when she retired; for 22 years she’s been testing water at two local streams, and entering their data on the Internet (https://ccpasec.org/). Active in the State College Friends Meeting since 1967, she worked with Quakers for permits to build Foxdale Village in the late 1980s.  Foxdale opened in 1990, and she served on the Foxdale Board of Trustees from 2006 – 2012.  She and David retired to a cottage there in 2012.   Before his passing in 2020, Laurie and David spent summers at their house in Hesston near Raystown Lake. 

The Jeffreys’ son, David, was diagnosed with bi-polar disease when in high school, and there were many years that the family struggled to help him. Eventually, he found ways to deal with his illness and for ten years, until 1998, when he was killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike, he had been happy, healthy, and strong. Laurie is especially happy that the Maroon and Gray Society is supporting the Mental Health Matters Fund and hopes children will be helped sooner rather than later.  Always interested and invested in the State College community, in 2021 Laurie was appointed by State College Borough Council to the newly created Community Oversight Board, charged with overseeing the Borough Police Department after the death of Osaze Osagie.  

Now 87 and active in many committees at Foxdale Village, Laurie keeps abreast of educational issues and in contact with the retired teachers from the schools where she taught. Her advice to today’s students: “Be open-minded and question your own prejudices. We all have privileges that we take for granted and it’s important to recognize them.”


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