Pamela L. Lavallee

2014 Andrea C. Silbert Rising Star Award Winner

In the spring of 2013, Pamela L. Lavalle, an educator from South Kingstown, RI was dealt two blows that probably would have overwhelmed many people.  She found herself out of work as a public school teacher after a distinguished career and shortly after, her 19-year-old son Robert broke his neck while playing soccer. In addition, Lavallee has been battling multiple sclerosis for the past10 years.

Rather than complain about her circumstances, she immediately began thinking about how she could use her skills to re-enter the workforce, all while making sure that her son got to his doctors’ appointments and followed their directives so he would recover fully.

Lavallee was in no hurry to file for unemployment benefits because she was confident that she would find work, especially because numerous families sought her out to help them through the difficulties of dealing with the special education system, the vagaries of high stakes testing and common core standards.

A Choice That Changed Her Course

Finally, in November 2013, she filed for unemployment benefits, which she said was the most important decision of the past year, not only because of the financial assistance but because she was asked by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to apply for a training program with the Center for Women & Enterprise.  She was one of those selected to participate in the program.

A neophyte when it came to entrepreneurship and business development, Lavallee dove in, becoming a leader in the class and working long hours at home to develop an exciting proposal for Tailor Made Tutoring, a business focuses on customized, individualized tutoring and advocacy for special needs children. Lavallee also provides tutoring for students who do not need special services, but who might need assistance in language arts and mathematics.

Few in the class knew that Lavallee suffers from multiple sclerosis. Yet they saw in her a woman with energy, a caring attitude and a sense of fun that helped inspire everyone.

“I was so fortunate to be selected for this class,” Lavallee. “Things had been tough for me and my family, but things changed the day I walked into the classroom. My instructors believed in me, and that belief fed my enthusiasm and drive. My classmates inspired me, taught me and helped me laugh. My husband said he hadn’t seen me so happy in many years. I am truly grateful for everything the center, its wonderful staff and my classmates gave to me during the seven weeks of the class.”

Since class ended, Lavallee has been busy developing promotional materials, advertising her business, taking calls from parents, scheduling appointments and working on her website. She has held two open houses for family and friends and for professionals. In each, she tested attendees’ knowledge of special education and state curriculum regulations in fun-filled, multiple-choice contests.

Lavallee is preparing to greet youngsters and help them on their way to success in school and well beyond.

2014 Award Recipient

Pam was named the 2014 recipient of its “Andrea C. Silbert Rising Star Award” at the CWE gala and auction in Boston on April 26.

The Center for Women & Enterprise chose Pamela L. Lavallee from among multiple candidates in the Massachusetts and Rhode Island areas. The award is named in honor of Silbert, who is one of the co-founders of CWE.  It is presented each year to a deserving member of the CWE family who has benefited from her relationship with CWE on the road to, starting and/or growing a business or improving themselves in their business life.

“I am still amazed that such a prestigious organization chose me for this honor,” Lavallee said. “To be among so many impressive women was truly humbling.”