Syracuse University Magazine

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Infant room teachers Fran Paige (left) and Janie Edwards retired from the Early Education and Child Care Center this winter following decades of service to the youngest members of the SU family.

Photo courtesy of Early Education and Child Care Center



TLC Specialists

Two beloved infant-room teachers retired from the Early Education and Child Care Center this winter, drawing to a close nearly 60 years’ combined experience of nurturing the tiniest members of the Syracuse University community. Throughout those years, Janie Edwards and Fran Paige have garnered the trust and gratitude of generations of SU faculty, staff, and students by caring for—and celebrating—their babies.

A lively and warmhearted pair, Edwards and Paige have loved helping little ones experience the world as a safe and wondrous place. Whether curling up with a favorite book inside the infant room’s cozy indoor igloo, lining the floor with prints of impressionist paintings to create an art “crawl,” or pushing the center’s famed triple strollers around the South Campus neighborhood, it’s hard to know who was having more fun—teachers or babies. “The reason I’ve been here so many years is because I love what I do,” says Edwards, whose first day on the job was 44 years ago. “You’ve got to have a heart for your work, and I do. I love babies and treat them just like my own. I’m going to miss that.”

Paige is a relative rookie, having come on board just 13 years ago. “I have certainly grown over my years here,” says Paige, a children’s book author who treasures her experience at the center for giving her a front-row seat to the fascinating world of infant development. “Even though I raised a large family of my own, I had never spent an entire day or week or year in one room with six babies under the age of 18 months.” She credits Edwards—her “partner and friend”—with showing her how it was done. “We didn’t always agree,” Paige says. “I wanted to hold and snuggle with each baby, and Janie wanted them to learn to be independent. Over the years I learned it is important for them to be independent, and Janie did more snuggling. We laugh about it now, but the truth is they need both.”

While they look forward to active retirements, both Edwards and Paige know they will miss not only the babies, but also the moms and dads who dropped them off every morning and picked them up each night. The feeling is mutual, as was expressed by the many families who helped create a memory scrapbook to mark the end of an era, voice their appreciation, and wish them well. As one grateful parent put it in a farewell letter, “You have been our partners, our friends, our caregivers, our confidantes, and our advisors. You gave us the best possible gift: Because of you, our children had a better start to school and life than we could possibly have imagined.”     —Amy Speach