LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Marilyn Gray

Position: Retiring Physical Education Teacher / Library Asst
School: Spaulding High School
School District: Barre Unified Union School District
City, State: Barre, VT

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Music that Describes Marilyn

Marilyn Gray was nominated by her colleague, Michelle LaFrancis.

Mrs. Gray, also known in her community as "MG," has served the Spaulding High School community for over 50 years, which is incredibly remarkable on so many levels. According to stories, she arrived at Spaulding, known as the home of the 'Crimson Tide,' as an energetic, caring, and inspiring teacher to spearhead the Physical Education program in the 1970s. It was as if she was a powerful wave crashing against the rocks with great force.

MG did not need Title IX to reinforce what she believed in. She did not need an institution to affirm her beliefs on what was right to do for students. She did not need a decree or law to remind her that all students should be treated equally. MG just knew, and she continues to be a beacon for many students. Under her leadership and supervision, field hockey and softball championships have been won, and many students were inspired to become good citizens.

"She has led by example and inspired many young females to embrace field hockey or softball as an extracurricular activity and understand that they possessed the essential characteristics of leaders; including myself as her former student and field hockey player," said LaFrancis. "To many, she has been a friend, an advocate, a confident, a colleague, and a positive role model.  Like many, I am honored by her presence. I am honored to call her my teacher/mentor, and I am honored to also call her my colleague since 1997. MG will always be that eternal wave who embodies TIDE Pride."

Comments (27)

Deb Merrill Wilkinson Posted 5 months ago

I couldn’t possibly think of my high school years without recalling many great memories of knowing and being mentored and coached by Marilyn. She made a lasting and lifelong, indelible impression on me. She cared and you always knew it, her door was always open and she inspired so many of us as young females to be not just the best athlete, but the best version of themselves they could be. My senior year I remember as we approached the state softball finals we wanted to win so badly not for ourselves but because we wanted to win for her, we loved her so much and wanted to give her that honor. She actually sat the team down and lectured us a little about wanting it for ourselves and not her. What better example could you want of inspiration? Marilyn, thank you for your friendship, leadership, love and amazing selfless commitment to the community. I know of no one more deserving of this recognition!

Jim Ferland Posted 6 months ago

I first met Marilyn over 20 years ago when I was working as a paraprofessional in a Spaulding alternative program and she was a PE teacher (she may have been still coaching, as well). She was later my neighbor when my family and I moved to East Barre. After a few job changes, I returned to Spaulding in 2016 as assistant principal. One of my main goals when I was hired was to improve the school's climate and increase the "Tide Pride" within our school community. I needed to look no further than Marilyn as my role model in this endeavor. Marilyn has been the hallmark of Tide Pride in this school and this community for over half a century! She has helped shape the lives in a positive manner for generations of Spaulding students. Many of those students went on to have children of their own who also benefited from Marilyn's passion, presence and wisdom. A number of these past students are now teachers and staff members in our building and they continue to seek out Marilyn as a mentor, colleague and as a friend. Marilyn, you will be missed here in Tide Nation! Know that we wish you well in your retirement (which you have so deservedly earned!) and we will honor you every day by wearing the Crimson proudly and following the road you paved as the prime example of professionalism, commitment, accountability and compassion for others. Thank you Marilyn for everything!

Kathy Gardner Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn you are an amazing colleague and friend! When I started here 16 years ago it became obvious, very quickly, that you were well liked and respected in this community; because when I mentioned that I worked at SHS, I would always be asked about you and how you were doing. You are so positive and always have a smile on your face and willing to help anyone at any time! You're an inspiration to us all! I feel very fortunate that I have been able to get to know you, as a friend and colleague. I wish you all the best in your retirement! We will stay in touch!

Tracy Bonoyer Posted 6 months ago

I am rather new to SHS. I've only worked here for two years. Nonetheless, Marilyn has made an impact on my life. She was so welcoming, kind, and helpful my first year here. She cares for each person- faculty, staff, and student- in the building. Her constant smile, conversation, and genuine love of people are cherished and will be missed. Happy retirement, Marilyn!

Joan Shedd Posted 6 months ago

WOW, this is awesome! I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving to be named the NL life changer of the year. I worked with Marilyn at Spaulding High School for 23 yrs. then I retired. We became good friends and remain friends today. I can’t say enough about how caring and kind this lady is. She is always giving and helping others. Throughout the years she always volunteered not only in the school but in the community. From giving to students who needed clothing, shoes, boots and gifts for special occasions to volunteering at the community Christmas parties/dinners, community meals for the needy and senior center delivery and helping to prepare meals. She was always supportive, positive and a mentor to me throughout my yrs working with her. Anyone who knows Marilyn knows she is always there if there is a need. I am so lucky to have the chance to work with her and so very proud to have such a special friend who is truly kind and cares! I just love this lady and hope she is chosen the honor of this award!

Kelley (Boutin) Boucher Posted 6 months ago

MG - you took a shot on me as a freshman and truly helped me build my confidence on and off the field. You taught strong work ethic, determination, and character which I carried with me through high school, college and beyond. I will always remember you as one of the best, one of the fiercest coaches I’ve had and, of course, you always looked good doing it in your green “mg”. Wishing you all the best in your retirement.

Pam Pinard Hemingway Posted 6 months ago

MG is a household name for any female who attended Spaulding High School or was a team member we played against. I was fortunate to have her as my field hockey coach, but long before that, she seemed part of our family. I had 3 older sisters who played field hockey and one of those also played softball for her. She taught young women how to be strong leaders, independent women, kind when you did not want to be, respectful to all, dedicated to the team, and play with grit! Most of my cherished high school memories MG is part of them. From her team dinners, to her yelling from standing on the bench (so she could see the field), to supporting us when we felt deflated. She is one of the reasons I decided to teach high school and coach field hockey. I wanted to make a difference in young women's lives. Thank you MG for all your love and support to us and to our community!

Patti Billard Del Hagen Posted 6 months ago

MG supported a girls softball team in 1973, when the school/athletic director did not. Although there was a freshmen, JV and varsity baseball teams fully supported, MG pulled together a girl’s team of some really talented players. Without her voice and her determination to get our “club” together, we would have been sidelined. She never ever gave up on us. To this day many of us, when we’re together, will travel down memory road and always thank MG for her energy, time and ability to turn a high school softball club into a team to be reckoned with!!! Thank you MG for always believing in us!

Sherry Aja Posted 6 months ago

Where do I start? I never knew a day at Spaulding High School when MG didn't have an impact on me. She was one of my Physical Education teachers for years, as well as my field hockey and softball coach for the majority of the seasons. MG has been a figure head at SHS and it is a tribute to her to see where women's sports have gotten to. For me, a life without sports would have been devastating. One of the things that I love best about MG is that she never claimed to be the best coach or the most technical coach, but her players respected her, and in turn, we played our hearts out for her. She instilled a sense of family with her players and would do anything for us...anything! I have so many fond memories that I couldn't even begin to name them all, but one of my favorites is when she loaded up a large passenger van and took our softball team to her hometown in Massachusetts. She had organized us to be able to play a couple of the local teams down there, but the best part was that we all stayed together, ate together, shopped together, and played together...and got even closer as friends and a team. It was very fitting that my last day of high school softball was one when we walked away as Vermont State Champions. It is a day that I will NEVER forget. The joy on MG's face said it all. To this day when I see MG, she asks about my sons, who she has been able to meet and interact with, and I can honestly see the pride in her face...she is proud of who I have become, and a part of that I will always owe to her. I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of this award. You have been a Life Changer for the Decades, MG, and I will always hold our friendship very dear.

Karine Marineau Posted 6 months ago

An icon, a legend, an inspiration, and a kind soul. I was fortunate to have her as both a teacher and a colleague for 20+ years. She exemplifies commitment, dedication and heart! MG's smile always shines bright at Spaulding. She is deserving of so much recognition and will be missed in the halls and library at SHS. Thankfully, I know I'll continue to see her around town on one of her many walks!

Alyson Fae Boudreault Posted 6 months ago

Not only have I known Marilyn since I was 3 years old as my neighbor growing up, but I was also lucky to have her as a gym teacher in school. She helped me develop and she helped me gain confidence while doing things in a gym surrounded by other kids. She always has a smile on her face, even when I see her across the street. She’s a great coach and a great neighbor.

Wendy Bailey Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn was such a great phys Ed teacher, a positive mentor, and I loved her energy!

Christine Smith Posted 6 months ago

I have worked with MG for the past 22 years, however, it wasn't until I transferred to the library that I got to know this amazing woman on a more professional and personal level. I became the new librarian in 2015 after having taught history and as a newbie, I can attest that I learned through "baptism by fire." Without her steady hand, knowledge, and encouragement, I am not sure I would have survived the two years it took to get my license. When she left the classroom, she became a full-time paraeducator here in the library, and through her time here, she has not only taught me and our student advisees how the library system works but has also impacted the collection by reading widely in order to support our students. MG has been a mentor to so many of us at Spaulding from the first-year teacher to the seasoned professionals like myself. She is well known here in Barre, and to many of us, she not only broke the glass ceiling, but she also shattered it. Her work ethic, her love, and support of Spaulding and our student community as well as her willingness to do what needs to be done are what has endeared her to so many of us. Many do not realize the impact she has had not only on women's sports here in Vermont but her local community through the variety of volunteer activities that she participates in on a weekly basis. To say she is a beloved member of our educational community is an understatement and I am so sad to see her leave us this year. Not because I am losing a valuable employee, but I am losing a very close friend.

Rosann Sayers Posted 6 months ago

Congratulations on your retirement! Tou will be missed by many!

Michele Cattelona Whalen Posted 6 months ago

Congratulations on your nomination MG!! This is so fitting. I have so many wonderful memories of you yelling at me (with love) from the sidelines-I never wanted to disappoint you and your opinion of me as player and person was important to me. Thank you for all of the inspiration and guidance you gave me during my years at Spaulding! I cherish them and you. Bring home the trophy!!!!

Diane Burrington Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn Grey truly deserves this award. She has influenced the lives of so many of us and our children.

Lori Duquette Posted 6 months ago

Marylin has always been an inspiration to me! She is thoughtful kind ambitious and intelligent! I love MG! A true friend for eternity! Xoxo

JudyAbbiati Posted 6 months ago

MG was my teacher/coach while I was a student at Spaulding. After that, she became my mentor in coaching as well as teaching. To this day, she is always available for me whenever I need some sound advise. I can't imagine what my life would have been like without her in it! Thanks MG for always being there!

Gretchen Singer Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn is the heart and soul of our school! She always puts the needs of our students first and is an incredibly supportive colleague, mentor, and friend. She never misses an opportunity to give back to her community and is eager to be involved in any capacity. Her cheerful, kind disposition makes her an absolute joy to be around! She has truly touched the lives of many people and so deserving of this recognition!

Becky Posted 6 months ago

You certainly deserve this honor, my friend! Think of you often!!??

Jan C. Trepanier Posted 6 months ago

Where shall I start? Marilyn Gray is a true icon at Spaulding High School, Barre, Vermont! She always gives every task her true attention and her absolute best! Whether it be teaching physical education, coaching our student athletes, helping with our community efforts around clubs and related athletic activities, enhancing our sports fields, helping to secure funding for projects, giving out scholarships to deserving students, making the SHS Library a vibrant, efficient and pleasant place to study and do projects, preparing displays for graduation, and of course assisting with the entire graduation process! The list goes on and on and on. Marilyn is tops in our eyes! For over 50 years Marilyn has fully participated and cared for our students and our community at SHS and in Barre. She has a wonderful sense of humor and spirit. She certainly makes sure that things stay neat, tidy and in order and she certainly makes certain that students stay on task. Yet, all of this she does with a smile and with a deep respect for our students, our staff and our community. How shall I ever forget Marilyn as my physical education teacher here at SHS? She taught us Newcomb ball as freshmen and I loved that game! She taught us and coached us in field hockey, softball and so much more! So many accomplishments. So many victories! Flash forward to present - the Library at SHS: I shall never forget my work with Marilyn in the Library (where she currently still works). It will not be the same without Marilyn here to smile and guide us. She will be missed beyond words. Thank you to Marilyn Gray for all she has done, and continues to do, for SHS and for our community! I will miss Marilyn’s presence here at SHS so very much. Marilyn deserves this wonderful award from National Life of Vermont! With appreciation and deep respect, Jan C. Trepanier SHS Colleague

Peggy Roy Portelance Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn Gray is an example of kindness, collegiality and collaboration on a daily basis. She is equally thoughtful towards all students and faculty. She is reliable and thorough in her work. She is the epitome of a quality employee and a valuable colleague.

Jesse Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn has played an valuable role in some many people's lives over the years at Spaulding High School. When I first started, Marilyn was a friendly face and a great source of information for someone new to the school and the Barre area. The stories of Marilyn's achievements and impact on Spaulding and the sports community in Barre were often shared by parents and colleagues, and were awe inspiring. Marilyn, for the past 50 years, has dedicated herself to Spaulding High School and serving as a leader, mentor, and friend to the students and staff. Her commitment to the community didn't end at the end of her workday; for years I worked along side Marilyn at Community Service dinners, where she was always the first to volunteer and contribute to the cause. I feel honored to know Marilyn and to have worked with her during her time at Spaulding.

Jim Willis Posted 6 months ago

I have only know MG for 40+ years. In this time I have always found her to positive, upbeat, and of very high integrity. I am certain that many people in our community of Barre are better people because of MG.

Stephen Kelley Posted 6 months ago

In the eleven years working for the district, I have never met someone as consistent as Marilyn. From the moment I walked through the door to this day, she has never stopped asking me about my family, how things are going, and showing genuine interest in anything related to family and life. Never judgmental but always ripe with helpful information, Marilyn has always been a resource for me, not only as an educator but as a dad. She is one of those people who make an institution feel more like a home, and it will certainly be a difficult transition for myself and many others as she prepares to retire and move on.

Lora Gaudreault Posted 6 months ago

INCREDIBLE teacher and person! Wishing you well in your retirement!

Katie Saint Raymond Posted 6 months ago

Marilyn was one of the first people I met when I started working at Spaulding, and always helped me out as a new staff who didn't know anything about the library's operations! She has helped keep the library organized and running, and does an amazing job. She is always there for the students and staff and helps them with any research questions or problems they encounter. Marilyn is an excellent candidate for "Lifechanger of the Year." It takes a village to breath life into a school- and her dedication to the library and students has helped the Spaulding community tremendously.