Teach – In Every Sense of the Word

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “teach” as “to instruct by precept, example or experience and ... any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn.” And in her 28 years of service to Colby-Sawyer College, Nancy Teach ’70 spent most of her time teaching, advising and mentoring students.

Teach has been tied to Colby-Sawyer College consistently over the years. Her mother, Mary Scheu Teach ’43, attended Colby Junior College, so it was only natural that both Teach and her sister Donna Teach Young ’71 would follow in their mom’s footsteps and attend the same school. And the family tradition did not stop there. Teach’s daughter, Jessica Teach ’97, also attended Colby-Sawyer.

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Teach moved to the New Hampshire area after graduation and started a career in the restaurant business. One of her most exciting adventures involved assisting in opening and managing a new restaurant in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. Teach and her daughter, Jessica, relocated there and enjoyed the island life for a year before moving back to the States. After returning stateside from St. Croix, Teach continued to travel extensively, sailing in the Carribean and visiting places throughout Europe, Southeast Asia and Russia.

In 1984, Teach began her tenure at Colby-Sawyer, working as the director of residential life. From there, she moved to admissions and helped bring in the first two classes that included men at the college. Teach then served as the director of academic advising and coordinated the study abroad program, which allowed her to combine her lifelong love of travel with her passion for her role at Colby-Sawyer. A highlight of that time for her was visiting Norway as part of the Semester at Sea program.

Although she held many positions at the college, Teach’s role as director of academic advising was the most rewarding to her. She estimates that over the years, she advised more than 200 students. She said, “The great thing was I was not affiliated with any academic department, and I also edited the college catalog, so I got to know all of the majors really well. I was the go-to person for the students who were lost or had some academic challenges. My job was to boost them up and keep them going.”

Teach made lifelong connections along the way, and many students have become part of her extended family. Students she advised continue to stay in touch with her years after they left the college. In fact, a group of students have helped Teach stack wood and clean up her yard for the past 25 years in return for a nice dinner, a few beers and good company. This tradition is known as Woodstack, and now involves her students’ spouses and children. It is an annual reunion they all look forward to.

Teach said, “In my role as director of academic advising, I gave the students permission to really have fun and enjoy life. I wanted them to thrive and not just get through the courses.” Teach loves the fact that “her students” visit her often, whether they are from Connecticut or Maine or from places as far as away as Bermuda or Vietnam.

Teach continues to serve her community and currently works as a school bus driver for the Andover Elementary and Middle School, where she interacts with students every day. During the pandemic, Teach has been particularly close to her students and has partnered with the school administration to protect the students’ health and safety. She also does a lot of volunteer work, including serving as the chair of the Andover Planning Board and as a member of the Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners, a local group that helps connect residents to food, shelter and transportation resources. In her spare time, Teach loves to garden, sail and, in the winter, snow shoe with her two chocolate labs. Tennis has been a lifelong passion for her, and she said she has the privilege of playing on the tennis court of Professor Hilary Cleveland, her favorite professor at Colby-Sawyer.

Teach has shared lots of advice with students over the years, but her favorite is this: “Keep your eyes and options open. Don’t think that what you are majoring in now is going to be your career. Have fun. Your education is worth the investment. It could end up being the best job you ever pay for.”