If you were to have visited her office, you would quickly discover the many wonders of my friend and colleague Dr. Debra Noyes. Amongst the warm and inviting décor of burgundy, navy and tan flowers, curtains, and table covers you would find a treasure of items that reflected the life of Debra Noyes.
One of the most precious treasures is those items that reflect her love for her seven grandchildren. Prominently displayed on almost every shelf and cabinet are the photographs of Kade, Kambri, Mattie, Morgan, McGrady, Emilia, and Dominic. A beautiful collage of smiling grandchildren looked up at her each day as she worked at her desk, with each picture tucked neatly under the clear desk protector. The personal artwork and handprints of each grandchild, neatly framed and displayed on the office walls, reflect the creative spirit she instilled in each of her grandchildren.
A special shelf is reserved for the photographs of Mark and Debra’s children, Matt, Chris, and Lindsay. The treasure of joyous events of the family, such as weddings, vacations, and holidays reminded her of the blessings that she and Mark shared over their 36 years of marriage.
With just a glance into her office, any colleague, student, or newcomer quickly discovers her passion for her vocation, early childhood. Hundreds of children’s books, games, and age-appropriate instructional activities crafted by her hands and imagination are gems that garnish the shelves and cabinets. Her early childhood education majors quickly recognize Debra as a professor that made a significant impact on their life. Christi Meredith states that Dr. Noyes “helped form me into the teacher I am!” Megan Schneider praises Dr. Noyes for shaping the way she thinks about early childhood education.
Of course, as her doctoral travel companion, I recognize the plain, neatly labeled large binders standing side by side on one of her bookshelves. The binders contain the hundreds of articles we read, essay and research papers she drafted, presentations she delivered, and study materials used in preparation for those glorious preliminary exams. During those long drives to Carbondale one night a week, we shared laughter and tears. I recall our first course, where we quickly realized that we were not at Greenville College anymore! The professor was a retired gentleman that wore flip-flops, workout clothing, and had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his shirt-sleeve! In our second course, we trembled as our professor explained that in order to survive his course, we would read until our eyes bled. Together, we not only discovered the truth about earning a doctorate, but also endured the hectic schedule and demands of raising a family, working full time, and completing our Ph.D.’s. We relied on her strengths of harmony, adaptability, and positivity to get us through each and every step.
Dr. Debra Noyes was such a gracious lady! She leaves an irreplaceable hole in the lives of her family at home and her family here at GC. She will continue to impact children far into the future by the imprint she has left on so many early childhood educators who teach young children. Even as these words come to a close, she is touching and shaping the lives of young children.
This Friday there will be a celebration of the life of Dr. Debra Noyes during chapel. Family members of Dr. Noyes will be in attendance and it is a chance for students to remember her and the commitment and service of all those that work at Greenville College.