Over a decade ago, on a Friday afternoon, VLACS Assistant Director of HR and Adult Education Lindsey DeLorenzo was hammering a nail atop a detached cupola in a cold spring wind in her grubby hat, Carhartts, and tool belt when she got the call that would change her life.
The following Monday, she walked into Merrimack High School (sans the grubby hat, Carhartts, or toolbelt), her department head greeted her, handed her a roster, and recommended taking attendance first. “Then he looked at me,” says Lindsey, “and said in a very serious voice, ‘good luck.'” It was her first teaching job.
“I fell into teaching,” she laughs over Zoom, “and thankfully not off the cupola.”
Lindsey tells me that her parents had tried to convince her to get her teaching degree as an undergraduate, but she just didn’t want to do it. “After I figured out that I didn’t want to be an English major,” she says, “I found the woodshop and a Product Design and Development Degree at Keene State College–and I found what I love.”
She tells me about her side business as an undergraduate. “I was a carpenter, very part-time,” she laughs. “I built all the furniture for a chapel down in Marshfield, Massachusetts. I built the chair, the lectern, the holy oils cabinets, two sets of candlesticks, the regular altar. I made all the furniture. It was really cool.”
Lindsey resisted teaching until the Merrimack job.
She says, “Merrimack hired me because I had the skill set, the CAD and mechanical and architectural drafting. I knew the content, and I had the enthusiasm and energy. But I didn’t know how to teach.”
I ask her why she applied in the first place if she knew she didn’t want to do it. She laughs again.
“I loved the carpentry and timber framing restoration work I was doing,” she says, “but my husband and I had just gotten married and we knew we wanted to start a family. I needed a full-time job with benefits and the small contracts I was getting–which were amazing and fun and wonderful–weren’t going to cut it. So I asked around.”
When Lindsey started teaching for VLACS three years ago, she did so in concert with her Merrimack job, teaching technology courses for the adult education program. “I had a few high school students and one or two adult students. It was a good way to learn a bit more about VLACS.”
Then Scott Prescott, VLACS’s Director of Instruction, told her about a new computer science certification the State of NH Department of Education created. He worked with her to get it so that she could teach a wide variety of courses, including those in game design and robotics.
“I am pretty sure that I was the 20th teacher in the State of NH to be certified in computer science,” she says.
She’s been an educator ever since only now you won’t find her in a classroom. In 2022, Lindsey was hired at VLACS full-time, supporting the adult education program, supporting instructors, and teaching as an adjunct instructor. Now, you can find her working tirelessly to give adult students the opportunity to go back to school to earn their high school diplomas and prepare for their future careers.
“I love it. I’ve improved a lot since that first day, too!” she laughs. “I love my students. I love the way they express themselves in whatever they’re doing. I love working with them, letting them express themselves.”
I ask about her transition from carpentry to teaching not only woodworking and technology courses, but hardcore programming and robotics courses.
“I have a mentality about learning that I like to share with my students–even though I may not know how to do something, I can learn. When I was a kid, my 89′ Jetta–loved that car–died, and my Dad told me it was the heater core. He gave me the service manual and said go for it. I had a pile of screws left over when I was done, but the car worked! The more I teach, the more I learn, which is cool.”
I learn that Lindsey is a hiker, a photographer, and a writer, too. She and her husband are nearly done with their 4,000-footers. “We loved Madison and Adams,” she says, “oh, and the Tripyramids, too!” They’d been looking forward to working on them this season, and getting the kids out for some camping this summer, but now they’re unsure.
She tells me about family camping trips to Moab, to Baxter State Park, to Yellowstone, about the book she and her husband are writing about covered bridges.
“I love to shoot photographs and he likes history,” she says. “We have what we call ‘date day.’ We pick a covered bridge, drive out, shoot the bridge, and its plaque, and then we write about each one. We’re about halfway though.”
I ask about her favorite. “I love the Cornish Windsor Covered Bridge – it was the longest covered Bridge in the US. It’s a neat bridge to shoot.”.
We gush over the Bondcliffs, coding kits for kids, an out-of-the-way hike, a good restaurant. We make vague plans for coffee when all of this–we wave our hands wildly–is over.
Lindsey DeLorenzo is one of the most talented and earnest people I’ve ever met. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s grateful she leapt from the cupola to the classroom.