Editor: Manteca Bulletin,
Anyone who knew Nancy Teicheira, whether family, friends, Manteca Unified School District employees and administrators, or her school board colleagues, recognizes what a special person she was. But the sadness of her passing is also a loss to the community as a whole because Nancy, as a true public servant, was a valued and respected fellow citizen. I write this tribute to Nancy to share some of the fond memories I have of her and to try to adequately convey, as difficult as that is, what an admirable person she was. It is really hard to lose someone like her and I will miss her deeply.
Friendships develop in a variety of ways: some through school or work, some through church or mutual activities and hobbies, and others through association with shared friends. I first met Nancy through my interest in attending MUSD school board meetings over the past 15 years. She served as a school board Trustee that entire time and we developed a strong friendship that, on the surface, seemed most unlikely. Politically, we were polar opposites and viewed the school district from completely different perspectives. But, over the years, we managed to put political beliefs on the back burner and came to recognize all the other aspects of our lives and values that we had in common: a shared interest in making sure the school district operated in an ethical manner, looking for what would most benefit students, and standing up for causes we believed in.
During all her many years on the school board, Nancy always showed courage and conviction. She was never afraid or embarrassed to be the sole dissenting vote on a school board decision if she felt that her stance was truly in the best interest of students. Yet she was able to stand up for her beliefs in a respectful manner that did not denigrate her fellow school board Trustees. She cared so passionately about agricultural programs and the school farm. In fact, that passion is what led her to run for the school board. She wanted to ensure that MUSD students, both current and future, would be taught the value of agriculture in our lives and be given opportunities to participate in that field. Throughout her years of service, she faced serious health challenges and the devastating death of her beloved teenage son, Daniel. Yet her commitment to the students of the school district and her focus on them never wavered. That strength of character and spirit was truly awe-inspiring.
Lest those not fortunate enough to have known Nancy personally get the wrong impression that I am describing a saint, let me clarify. Nancy was not perfect. She could make mistakes or school board decisions that she later regretted, but she always put her heart and soul into trying to do the right thing. She was down-to-earth, warm, and approachable. School district employees, parents, and community members felt free to call her to share any concerns they had about students, issues, or how the district was operating and she would reach out and try to get their concerns addressed (using the proper channels). She had a wickedly funny sense of humor and wasn’t above being the target of her own jokes. The jokes she told and the humorous stories she recounted were enriched by her comical facial expressions, the turning of a phrase, and an expert delivery. After school board meetings, she and some friends would meet up for food or coffee to dissect how the meeting went and to further discuss issues. Her great sense of humor was on full display here. She loved to kid around and tease me if I skipped the ice cream on my apple crisp dessert order. “What, you don’t support us dairy farmers?” she would laughingly needle.
One of the qualities I most admired about Nancy was the true loyalty of her friendship. When Michael Seeyle resigned earlier this year due to health issues, Nancy urged me to apply for the appointment to fill his Area 3 position. Even though she had retired from the school board by this time and her health battles had become even more serious and hard-fought, she not only wrote me one of the required letters of recommendation, she attended the April interview of candidates, physically as frail as she was, and spoke on my behalf. I believe her steadfast support helped elevate me to the position. My husband sat next to her during that over two hour interview meeting and later told me that he had never realized how funny she was. I guess she kept him entertained with a running commentary on the proceedings.
I will remember with great fondness and deep gratitude the loyal friendship she blessed me with and the inspiring public service example she set for us all. I take it as my responsibility, while serving on the school board, to try and emulate the courage and conviction she so consistently displayed during her many years of service to MUSD. I sincerely doubt that I could match her inspiring example, but to honor her memory, I will hold fast to all the life lessons she taught me simply by being herself. For those of us who knew, loved, admired, and laughed with Nancy, how lucky we were to have had her in our lives!