Be the Change: Bev Blair – A Life of Commitment

art-0914-btc2Bev Blair, preschool teacher at Secret Garden Preschool in Redding, CA, has created a stable life of commitments in marriage, work and friendships.

Bev began teaching at Secret Garden, the oldest privately owned preschool in Redding, in 1986. Her own children were grown and gone, and she was contemplating what she might like to do with her life. She lived a half mile from the school that was, and still is, on Churn Creek Road. “It’s hard to imagine, but at the time Churn Creek was still a dirt road,” recalls Bev.

“In thinking what I might like as a profession, I wanted to find something I could do for a long time,” Bev says. “I love kids so thought I would like to teach preschool.” She stopped in and talked with Tim Mallory, who then owned Secret Garden. “I thought one could just start teaching preschool children,” she admits. “I was surprised when Tim told me I’d have to get some education.”

Bev art-0914-btc1entered Shasta College and earned a degree in child development. She returned to Secret Garden with her degree in hand and was hired as the cook. She felt out of place because she had no friends on the staff. Donna Montelongo, one of the teachers who later became the school’s owner, reached out to her. Bev thought she was an outstanding teacher and Donna said she’d teach her everything she knew. “And she did!” says Bev. “Ultimately I became the teacher I wanted to be.”

Twenty-eight years after starting her career, Bev enjoys teaching as much as ever. “Education is wonderful, she states, “but it has to go hand in hand with experience.” Her love of children kindles her desire to make education something amazing for the children. Bev strives to make the preschool learning experience exciting enough that children continue to feel inspired about education through their elementary and high school years and beyond.

“Secret Garden is a wonderful place to teach,” says Bev. “I have the freedom to teach the way I want, and my main goal is always to teach the kids empathy. It’s important that children know how to live successfully in relationship with others.” When she creates lesson plans based on new ideas, she keeps what works and tosses the rest. Jennifer Brown, Secret Garden’s current owner, says, “Bev is very versatile. She has that touch with children where she can go every which way till she finds what works.”

“Bev lives and breathes her kids,” continues Jennifer. “And she works well with parents and other staff, too. She’s taught me a lot about this industry, and I’m still learning. Her experience is amazing.”

art-0914-btc3Choosing carefully and sticking with a profession is not the only place Bev exemplifies commitment. She and husband Jerry have been married for 47 years.

The couple has two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. “My family and extended family is the most important part of my life,” she reveals. “I love spending time with my great-grandchildren. We go to Turtle Bay, walk along the river, pitch a tent in the backyard, and have picnics.”

With the exception of a short stint in Reno after her marriage, Bev has lived in Redding all her life. She attended Pine Street School, Manzanita School, and Shasta High School. “Redding is a wonderful community,” she says.

When not teaching or spending time with her family and friends, Bev enjoys working on the computer. She researches new ideas for her classroom and keeps up with her grandchildren on Facebook. 

While one can only learn through experience, Bev wishes she had known what she knows now when she was raising her own children. Throughout her years of mothering, grand-mothering, great-grand-mothering and teaching she has learned a lot, and wants to share this bit of advice with parents: “Tell your children over and over how much you love them.  And spend time with them. Busy parents need to carve out family time; it is very important for the children’s sense of well being and belonging.”

Bev Blair can be reached at (530) 244-1891.  

[sws_grey_box box_size=”580″] The mission of our Be the Change column is to feature a community member from the North State who is actively making a difference in community life. If you would like to nominate someone who is making a difference, please write to [/sws_grey_box]

Carolyn Warnemuende
About Carolyn Warnemuende

Author Carolyn Warnemuende has two daughters and five grandchildren, and lives with her husband in Redding. She writes parenting and educational articles, sponsors a school in Uganda, and visits Africa twice a year. She receives great joy in taking daily care of her four-year-old granddaughter who was adopted from Ethiopia.


  1. Jeri Blair says:

    That’s my mom ! I am so proud of her, and all that she has accomplished 🙂

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