25 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Muir, has provided gentle care and thoughtful
instruction for the children of many Wesleyan employees and Middletown
On May 29, Muir will retire from her role at Wesleyan’s Neighborhood
Preschool and will be celebrated at a potluck party at 5 p.m. at 115 High
Street in Middletown.
“Betty is better than Mary Poppins,” says parent Stephan Angle, associate
professor and chair of philosophy, associate professor of East Asian
studies. Angle’s daughters, Samantha, now 12, and Rachel, now 9, both spent
ages 3 and 4 at the preschool under Betty’s care.
“She cares so much for the kids’ emotional and physical well-being, and
knows just what it takes to help them grow as people,” Angle says. “We never
worried for a second when dropping the kids off; to the contrary, we knew we
were doing something wonderful for them!”
Muir, who worked in the preschool program with 3-and 4-year-olds, was known
for her caring manor and taking the children on walks around Wesleyan’s
“We always knew that our children were in good hands when they were with
Betty,” says parent Suzanna Tamminen, director of the Wesleyan University
Press. “Her seemingly unstoppable energy and optimism are always beautifully
balanced by her patience and sensitivity to the needs of others. We have
deeply appreciated those qualities as well as her willingness to take on
duties that were often above and beyond the normal call.”
the mother of three children, Hugh, 6, Fiona, 4, and Silas, 1. Muir taught
Hugh and Fiona each for two years, and Silas currently attends the
“We will miss her pumpkin soup, her gardening and her avid recycling,”
Tamminen says. “She has truly made a profound difference in the lives of
many families in our community, and we are very sad to see her leave.”
Muir also taught Patrick Wiliarty, 4, son of Kevin Wiliarty, Academic
Technology coordinator and Sarah Wiliarty, assistant professor of
“Betty did such a fine job in helping Patrick grow,” Kevin Wiliarty says.
“She expected a lot from the kids, but always in an encouraging way, and I
know that Patrick was always proud of the things he learned from her, things
about picking up after himself and getting along with friends, for example.
In that sense, a bit of Betty will always be with us, because she is one of
the people who has helped Patrick to be who he is.”
Petra Bonfert-Taylor and Ed Taylor, both associate professors of
mathematics, say their memories of Muir are vividly embedded in their
memories of Neighborhood Preschool. Muir taught their daughter, Elaine, for
two years. Now 6, Elaine occasionally speaks with a Scottish brogue, a habit
acquired from her teacher, Betty.
"To this day, Elaine prefers to pronounce words with a large number of “f’s”
where “th” or “ph” might go," Bonfert-Taylor says. "We always appreciated
Betty’s energy and understanding. She took each child as they were and
didn’t judge or pigeon hole them. Children are especially sensitive to such
things, and her openness was rewarded with much love from the children."
In her retirement, Muir looks forward to spending more time with her family,
and dancing with The Royal Scottish Dance Society.
Anyone who is unable to attend the potluck but would like to contact Betty
Muir can write to her at 115 High Street, Middletown, CT 06457.