Friends, colleagues remember late Rockville Centre teacher


Shelley Brenner LaFauci, a former Rockville Centre elementary school teacher, died suddenly at her home in Delray Beach, Fla. on April 20. She was 69.

She was born in Brooklyn in 1949 and raised in Rockville Centre, graduating from South Side High School in 1967. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Hofstra University before embarking on a career in education.

LaFauci began working for the Rockville Centre School District in the early 1970s and retired in 2002, according to Schools Superintendent Dr. William Johnson, spending time teaching second- and third-graders at Francis F. Wilson, Floyd B. Watson and William S. Covert elementary schools.

“She grew up in this community, she committed herself to the Rockville Centre community and spent her entire teaching career dedicated to the children of Rockville Centre,” Johnson told the Herald.

LaFauci worked at Watson for years, and Susan Kahan, a Watson teacher since 1986, knew her for about a decade.

Kahan described her as “a well-loved second-grade teacher,” adding that, “children enjoyed being in her colorful classroom,” which she always adorned with Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.

“Shelley was welcoming and nurturing,” Kahan said, noting that her outgoing and loyal personality earned her many close friends that have since retired from education. “Her students benefitted from her creativity and dedication.”

“She was just the kindest most thoughtful person,” said Nancy Kahn, who worked with LaFauci at Wilson and Watson schools, and called her one of her closest friends. Shelley was a “fashionista before the term was created,” Kahn said, adding that she always remembered special events in her friends’ lives and was great at picking out special gifts for various occasions. Kahn said former teachers were getting together on Tuesday, after press time, to commemorate her life.

“She was loving and kind and cared so much about making sure the children in her class were learning in a happy environment,” Kahn told the Herald. “…No child ever left her room without a hug and a kind word.”

Darren Raymar, principal of Covert, said she came to the school toward the end of her career and spent a year doing Academic Intervention Services, or AIS, as well as small-group instruction. “In the short time she was here, she displayed professionalism and kindness to all,” Raymar said, adding that she was lovely to the children she worked with.

LaFauci loved teaching and remains a favorite teacher of hundreds of former students, according to family members. She enjoyed being around people, watching movies and shows, taking education courses, and keeping up with the latest fashion trends.

She always knew how to make people smile and laugh, and took great joy in doing so. LaFauci was very charitable, and supported the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, World Vision, Operation Smile, and selflessly volunteered at Vitas Hospice by the Sea to make the end of people’s lives better.

LaFauci is survived by her loving fiancé, Larry Levenberg; son Greg LaFauci; daughter Kim LaFauci; granddaughter Lily Marie Pacheco LaFauci; and brother Steven Brenner.

A service was held at Gutterman’s Funeral Home on May 13. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to request that donations be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering in her memory.