MORRIS – Teaching wasn’t always on Taylor Lafond’s radar.
Before she graduated from Morris Community High School in 2002, she had her eyes set on attending Illinois State University, her father’s alma mater, and study accounting. Understandable, since her father, Tom Tesdal, was an executive at First Midwest Bank.
In fact, she did study accounting, to the extent that she worked an internship at one point.
“The internship wasn’t what I was expecting,” Lafond, who is married to Matt Lafond, a former Morris teacher and coach who now teaches in Wilmington, said. “I was kind of set on going to ISU since that was where my dad went.
“But then I visited Eastern Illinois University, and I just loved that school and decided to go there. After doing more research, I found that it was well-known for its teaching program. I thought I might like to do that, so I went into PE since I was a three-sport athlete in high school, I was also into dance, all of that. And who doesn’t love a teacher’s schedule?
“At the time, I thought it was summers off, but I have come to realize that it’s not the whole summer.”
Lafond currently teaches Family Consumers Education, Child Development 1 and 2, Textiles and Design 1 and 2, and Foods 1 and 3.
“It’s definitely not boring,” she said about her schedule. “Sometimes it’s hard to keep all the classes straight.”
Although she has ended up in Morris where she started, she did have a brief detour after college before coming home. Lafond taught for three years at a Quaker school in Virginia Beach called Virginia Beach Friends.
“I taught pre-K through fifth grade there,” she said. “It was different. I was part-time for a year and full-time my second and third years. Then, I heard that [former MCHS PE teacher] Jane Vahle was retiring, so I moved home. I substituted and coached to try and get my foot in the door. When Jane’s spot opened up in 2010, I applied and got that position.”
Lafond took over the head volleyball coach position in 2015 and coached for five years before stepping down to spend more time with her growing family. She and Matt have four children - son Tate (age 10), son Ty (8), daughter Trynn (5) and son Tripp (3).
“I miss the relationships with the girls on the team,” she said. “It just felt like you got to know the kids better as a coach. As a teacher, you spend an hour or so a day with them, but as a coach you have all that time at practices and games, and then the travel to and from the games. You really get to know who they are as people. I do miss that.
“And, I had babysitters built right in. The girls were always happy to watch our kids if we had something to do. Now it’s a little harder to find babysitters.”
She might not have to look much farther than her own classroom in the future.
Lafond said one of her favorite aspects of teaching is helping run the Apple Tree Play School for her Child Development classes.
“The high school kids teach the little ones in that class,” she said. “They come up with the lessons and do the teaching. In the first year, they do it as a team, and in the second-year class, they do it solo. It’s good preparation for the Child Development program at GAVC.”
Although she has given up coaching on the high school level, Lafond has returned to the sideline, coaching boys volleyball at Nettle Creek Grade School. She also runs concessions for Morris High School sporting events.
“I haven’t slowed down all that much,” she said. “The concessions keeps me busy, and it’s fun coaching the grade school kids. I do miss the game itself and being around it, so this helps with that.”