A Teacher Gives a 30-Year Lesson in Giving

Photo credit: UConn Foundation
Photo credit: UConn Foundation

Longtime schoolteacher Lucille Kuhnly is a dedicated denizen of the land of steady habits. Her grandfather, John Kuhnly, bought the family home in 1892, and at least one Kuhnly — but typically more – have lived in the grand old four-storied house in the Rockville section of Vernon for the past 120 years. Lucille Kuhnly has lived there since her birth in 1918.

She was also a stalwart of the Rockville school system, teaching there for 37 years, as head of the science department, then as a science supervisor for the entire school system. She sang in the choir at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Vernon for more than 55 years, and has been a member of its prayer group for more than 50. And her steady nature has benefited UConn; she has given to the Fund for UConn for more than 30 years.

She is humble about it: “They are small gifts,” she insists. But for institutions – particularly public ones – to have such longtime, dedicated donors is a gift in itself. And to have those gifts specified unrestricted so the university may use them for its greatest needs, makes them even more appreciated.

She gives, she says, because she appreciates the quality of instruction she received from the School of Education more than half a century ago, and because she remembers the efforts of her advisers there. She asks that her annual gift be directed to the Neag School, then leaves it up to them to decide how to use it.

She rose rapidly to prominence in the field of education in Connecticut, helping to found and later become president of the Connecticut Science Teachers Association the same year — 1952 — she received her master’s degree from the School of Education. She also helped to organize the Northern Connecticut Science Fair.

The list of her accomplishments is long and detailed, and some of the most recent plaques celebrating her achievements adorn the walls of her home. One of them, given after Rockville High School named its chemistry department for her, says, “Lucille Kuhnly inspired a generation of students to appreciate the importance of developing an understanding of the chemical sciences.”

From a young woman who was told when she was first offered a job teaching math at Rockville High that, “We’ve never had women in our physical sciences,” to the day that same superintendent realized it was more than acceptable for a women to teach in the field and made her chair of the department, she has always advocated for excellence in education.

Now she is helping other teachers through her gifts to the annual fund.

“I feel my time was well spent while obtaining my master’s degree and sixth-year diploma at UConn,” she says. “So I just like to give a little something to the people working in the education department there who are teaching the teachers of today.”


To support the Neag School of Education, please contact the Foundation’s development staff for more information.


From the March 2011 issue of Our Moment, the UConn Foundation’s e-newsletter.