Godfrey-Lee — Substituting for the art teacher at the Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center, Lisa Villemeure-Greca led a class of first-graders in a silly sandwich drawing activity.
Her smile never left her face, even while gently resolving conflicts between second-graders over coloring materials.
“I like helping them solve small problems on their own and helping them be their best selves,” Greca said. “I have my hallelujah moments when I see a student behaving well or owning up to their mistakes and learning from them.”
A student called Greca over to her table to show her a sandwich with hot sauce, chicken nuggets and ice cream drawn between two buns.
“Ooo la la!” Greca exclaimed in delight.
One of the many encouraging phrases she used frequently throughout the class, Greca also said “Ooo la la and thank you very much” to each student who followed the instructions and cleaned up their workspace.
A New Adventure
After teaching for 33 years in Rockford Public Schools, kindergarten teacher Lisa Villemeure-Greca retired in November 2020 to start the next chapter of her life.
She worked as a cashier at the Family Fare store near her home to keep busy. When she heard about an opening for a permanent substitute at Godfrey Lee’s Early Childhood Center, she said it felt like a calling.
‘She is my whole heart and the best person in the world.’— second-grader Jayce Franklin-Terrell
“I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I’m thrilled to be here,” she said.
Coming out of her retirement to teach young students again, Greca said this was her new adventure and committed herself to being a part of the Godfrey-Lee district and community.
“Everyone is important and valued,” she said. “I strive to create a sense of belonging for students in my classroom family.”
Greca’s mother, Ann, who was a former teacher and principal in Grandville Public Schools, raised five daughters, four out of five of whom also became teachers.
“My mom was a great educator and she always said it only takes one person to believe in a child, and you have to believe in them,” Greca said.
‘I have the same love for teaching now as I did when I started. I can still make a difference.’— Lisa Villemeure-Greca, permanent substitute teacher
Greca also said her parents’ unconditional love while growing up taught her how to teach and love her own students well.
“Teaching now is very different from 30 years ago,” said Greca, originally from the Detroit area but whose family moved to Grandville when she was in second grade. “It has its challenges … but the learning is exciting. I have the same love for teaching now as I did when I started. I can still make a difference.”
As a floater substitute, ECC students see “Mrs. Greca” in different classes depending on the day. She frequently substitutes for Eryn Watson’s second-graders, who enthusiastically shared kind words about her.
“I love Mrs. Greca! She’s wonderful,” Jia Figueroa said.
“She is my whole heart and the best person in the world,” Jayce Franklin-Terrell added.
Noah Kelsey-Smith said Greca was “the best” because she helps him with reading one-on-one when he needs it.
“She is nice to us and is always happy,” Valeria Montalvo-Garcia said. “I love how she treats us and uses her calm voice and even when she’s mad, she uses a regular voice.”
Since joining the ECC, her fellow staff members have referred to her as a ray of sunshine in and out of the classroom.
“We love Mrs. Greca and my students get so excited when they find out I’m going to be gone so she can be their sub,” Watson said with a laugh.
“She is a literal walking saint,” Principal Andrew Smith said. “She has built positive relationships with students, staff and families, attends after-school sporting events and volunteers one day a week to help with the walking school bus because she wants to get to know the community.”
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