Allegheny Graduate Goes From Corporate Vice President To Kindergarten Teacher

Jeffrey Dacales

It’s never too late to make a change in life. That’s what Jeffrey Dacales ’76 learned after transitioning from a corporate vice president to an elementary school teacher. 

“Allegheny College taught me to look at things broadlyto look past a silo, which helped me in education,” says Dacales. “I learned you have to continually learn, Allegheny was great that way.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s in economics and political science, Dacales earned his master’s in business administration in finance from Syracuse University and worked at Citicorp for fourteen years. 

As he thought about the future, it dawned on him that he didn’t want to remain in a corporate setting. After researching occupations, he realized his interests aligned with teaching, driving him to pursue a master’s in early childhood and elementary education from Bank Street College of Education. 

Dacales taught for 26 years and 23 of those years were spent at Stowe Elementary School in Vermont, primarily as a kindergarten teacher.

“Teaching rewards you for being kind. I enjoyed interacting with the children and helping them through their day. I made a habit of saying ‘hello’ to each child individually in the morning,” says Dacales. “I enjoyed helping families adjust to public school because, for many families, it was their first child going to school.” 

Dacales says his economics background helped him advise on teacher salary negotiations for 20 years. Additionally, his knowledge of political science helped him understand how democracy plays a role in public schools, especially during public meetings. 

Outside of the classroom, Dacales got involved in the community by reading Halloween stories and leading a lantern-lighting parade for families during the holidays, which he continues to do each year. He also taught English to children in Greece and volunteered to instruct adults in a refugee camp during the summer. 

“There’s little things you can do that make a huge impact for kids,” says Dacales. “I loved doing creative projects.” 

Dacales was sought out by his first Stowe kindergarten class to give their high school commencement speech twelve years later. Before retiring in 2019, Dacales was awarded Teacher of the Year. 

“The contributions you make to society, if you want to give back, in education are phenomenal,” says Dacales. “As long as the children know you care about them genuinely, you can do amazing things with kids in a classroom.”