As staff members arrive at Sand Pine Elementary each day, they know one thing for certain: Corey Staney already will be there.
The 75-year-old second-grade teacher is first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at the end of the day.
“Her work ethic — it’s legendary,” said Shay Peck, a fellow second-grade teacher.
Ms. Staney is also known for her warmth.
“When I first started here (at Sand Pine), I was 25 and she was so welcoming,” Peck said. “She taught me to be kind, always.”
Staney’s presence is comforting, too.
“Every school needs a grandma,” Peck said, jokingly, but also lovingly.
Ms. Staney has been a teacher for 53 years, spending the last 15 at the elementary school tucked inside the Meadow Pointe Community.
Her career as an educator may be coming to an end, but she expects to return again.
Well, in a way.
“Oh, she’s already figured out when she can come back — about a year after retiring — to volunteer,” Sand Pine Principal Christina Twardosz said.
Ms. Staney is invested.
The principal said Ms. Staney is the first to say: “‘They (the kids) need us. I need to be here.
“And she is always here. She’s never sick — basically perfect attendance, but she’s also always there for the kids, academically and emotionally,” Twardosz said.
The principal added: “I mean, she’s been teaching longer than I have been here — not (just) at the school — (but) alive in this world!”
The teacher’s colleague, Nathan Moore, said: “People her age, they’d be out on an island or living it up, but she loves what she does.
“You don’t replace Ms. Staney.
“What’s awesome about her is that she cares about her students like no one I’ve ever seen,” Moore said. “She always has her kids on her mind. That’s her passion to not only help them academically, but as a person — to see them grow to their fullest potential.
“To have her as a mentor, it’s been amazing,” he added.
Ms. Staney began teaching, alongside her husband, Joe — a former teacher and assistant principal — in Worcester, Massachusetts.
They met at Worcester State University, formerly Worcester State College, at a time when Ms. Staney was certain she’d be a teacher for life.
But then she had some second thoughts.
“When I was a sophomore, I said to my dad that I didn’t know if I wanted to be a teacher.
“I even left school.
“I went to work for an insurance company and knew right away that wasn’t for me.
“I knew I wanted to be a teacher for sure, so I went back to school, right away, and have been at school ever since.”
After spending 36 years as a teacher in Massachusetts, Ms. Staney and her husband decided in 2005 that they wanted to retire early and move to Florida. The couple had two children and three grandchildren.
The retirement, however, was short-lived.
After being in Florida for just two weeks down here, her husband required quadruple bypass surgery and then an angioplasty soon after.
Ms. Staney had help from her daughter, Lisa, to care for her husband, but she needed to find work and needed medical coverage for her husband.
She tutored in the neighborhood and did the same thing at the nearby Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Meadow Pointe.
That turned into a preschool teaching position and then she joined Sand Pine as a second-grade teacher.
Over the years, she’s touched thousands of lives, and has even kept in touch with some of them.
Students in her class speak highly of Ms. Staney.
“She’s a perfect teacher,” 8-year-old Kaylanis Rodriguez said. “She’s nice and she always makes us learn new things that we always love to learn about.”
“She has a lot of stories,” added 8-year-old Evan Kalojiannis. “I didn’t know she had been a teacher for so long, but she has a lot of funny stories that help us learn.”
Saying goodbye is never easy, Ms. Staney said, adding it will be especially difficult this year.
Teaching children has been such a source of joy for her.
“They’ll just make your whole day,” said Ms. Staney, flashing a broad smile.
“It’s worth it to get up and see the kids first thing in the morning. I loved every minute of it.”
Published May 18, 2022
Mrs. Staney is such an amazing person. I have had the pleasure of working with her for a few years now and substitute teach in her class. She has the ability to earn her students respect and trust quickly and I have never heard her raise her voice. Her kids love her just as much as she loves them. She has truly changed the lives of every student who enters her classroom!