In Memoriam: Sharon Vadeboncoeur - Many a Parent's and Child's Extraordinary First Teacher

by Carla Goldberg, Early Childhood Director

We are immensely saddened to have lost a very special colleague, friend and teacher this past Sunday, September 15: Sharon Vadeboncoeur. 

Sharon taught in our preschool for over 20 years. She wasn't just a teacher - she was many children's first teacher. With her straightforward and honest advice, and a wicked sense of humor, Sharon helped new parents. 

Many of us are the parents we are today thanks to Sharon. 

We are all so grateful for all the gifts that she gave us and our children.   

Sharon in the Purple Room, 2016

I will never forget my first piece of advice from Sharon. 

I used to pack my two-year-old son a lot of choices for lunch because he was such a picky eater. One day, Sharon looked at me and said, "Carla, lunch at school isn't a buffet. You pack so much that your son can't find the entree. Let's limit it to three choices, and I promise he will eat something."  

Sharon in the Green Room, 2009

That was Sharon, direct, funny and spot on with her insight. She loved teaching young children. 

For the many years that she battled cancer, she kept on teaching. 

You would never have known that she was so sick. She was always cheery, energetic, and happy to be with the children.

The following tribute from former parent Lea Grover captures beautifully the role Sharon played for so many families: 

I didn't know when the girls started preschool that Sharon was beginning a battle with cancer. All I knew was that she was the most competent woman I'd ever met. She was so patient, and so good with the children. When Rivka started preschool, Sharon got to know her, too. Even though Rivka wasn't in her class, Sharon went out of her way. 

And then, when Mike had his brain surgery in 2015, Sharon championed for us. She took care of our children at school in ways above and beyond. She talked to me and Mike about her own cancer experiences. She empathized, she sympathized, she supported our whole family, she embodied kindness.

I don't know how many families dealt with cancer at the preschool in her two decades there, but we can't be the only one. I'm certain that Sharon must have reached out to all of them with the compassion and competence with which she did everything.

Sharon in the Lime Room, 2014

The Akiba preschool staff called Sharon our personal superhero.  

She taught us to face adversity with humor and grace and to never give in or give up. 

Sharon (right) with her Purple Room co-teachers Barbara (left) and Dara (middle).

Contemplating this challenging year, we will all be thinking about Sharon as we look for her strength, her courage and her grace in times of uncertainty. 

Sharon at Akiba, 2005

We are all lucky to have known and loved Sharon. We will carry her many gifts in us, and they will live on in all of the children she taught.  

Sharon with her son David when she was honored at our Benefit Brunch in March 2019

Sharon, you were one of a kind, and you will be in our hearts forever!


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