‘She didn’t know she touched every single heart in the center’

Jolene Laven retires after 30+ years at Childrens Center, appreciated by her peers



Jolene Laven worked at the WSU Children’s Center for over 30 years.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor

Jolene Laven’s interest in working with children has been a part of her for most of her life. She has worked in many different capacities at the Children’s Center, including as a teacher, but most recently served at the center by helping other teachers care for their children. 

Oftentimes while at the Children’s Center, Laven would play her guitar for the children, she said. Laven still sees people she once knew at the center years later, which she said is one of the highlights of her time there. 

After working at the WSU Children’s Center for over 30 years, Jolene Laven’s service to the center was honored on Friday with her official retirement party.

The WSU Children’s Center is a childcare center on campus. Children between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years are eligible to stay there during the day.

Assistant Director Michael Chapman said the rest of the staff at the Children’s Center has a lot of respect for Laven.

“When the staff found out that it was her last day, we were actually in a staff training, they all stood up and started to applaud,” he said. “She was just overwhelmed. She didn’t know she touched every single heart in the center. It’s going to leave a void. She definitely set the mark high.”

At the party, Laven said she was able to see a lot of the people she has worked with over the years, which has now extended to 32 years.

“It was nice to feel appreciated,” Laven said. “I know that I am appreciated, but it was good to see a lot of the kids saying, ‘thank you, thank you.’”

While she has been involved with the Children’s Center in many different capacities, she has always had an interest in working with children, she said.

“I’ve had people come up to me and ask, ‘how do you do something like that?’” she said. “It takes patience … Everyone has something that they are drawn to do.” 

Chapman said he has known Laven for 29 years. When he started at the Children’s Center, Laven was already working there. 

“I am in charge of staffing and prior I was a co-teacher alongside Jolene. Jolene was in the preschool classroom right next to mine, so we taught together,” Chapman said.

Chapman said he would describe Laven as very happy and outgoing. She always had her kids doing something and noticed she always had her guitar with her. 

“When she was here, we were just all teachers together, and she was great to bounce ideas off of,” he said. “[She] always had great ideas from a planning point of view.”

When thinking back to the years they spent together, Chapman said some of the most memorable times were the times when they would take kids throughout the community and around WSU’s campus.

“She knew everybody on campus. We’d go building to building and it’d be, ‘Oh, it’s Jolene and her kids,’” he said.

Preschool teacher Frank Waters is also a longtime friend of Laven. He has known her for 25 years and said he had a really good relationship with her.

“She will be remembered for her knowledge that she shared with everyone about childcare and other particular things in her life,” Waters said. “A lot of words of wisdom.”

While she is now retired from regularly working at the Children’s Center, she hopes her service is not finished yet. She believes that she will be back eventually.

“I hope to come back to volunteer there, maybe once or twice a month or so,” Laven said.