NASA People

Center Snapshot: Lorna Ragland
Image above: Lorna Ragland spends some time with one-year-old Claire, as she prepares to move to a new class after having been under "Miss Lorna's" care for eight months in the Panda classroom. Photo Credit: NASA/Denise Lineberry

By: Denise Lineberry

Lorna Ragland doesn’t hear her last name often. She hears cooing, crying, nursery songs and the clapping of hands. She sees the first glimmer of a smile and feels tiny hands crawling at her feet. For 17 years, she has taught infants at the Langley Child Development Center (LCDC).

It's a position that suits "Miss Lorna" perfectly. Her caring and nurturing ways soothe babies and their parents as they transition into the LCDC and back into work. Some of the children she has cared for were introduced to her only six weeks into their lives. And many of the children she met within her first year are now preparing to graduate from high school.

She watches the infants grow up, many of them remain at the LCDC through Pre-kindergarten. She teaches their little sisters and brothers and then watches them as they go through every milestone in their young lives – crawling, walking and talking.

Eventually, they return to say, "Hello, Miss Lorna." And that is music to her ears.

She lived in Jamaica until she was 14 years old. Then she lived in England for 16 years followed by Japan for four years. Her next and final stop was Hampton.

Her teaching career at Langley began with an advertisement and an application. It's too difficult for her to recall how many children she has taught since that application resulted in a job … hundreds, easily.

"I learn so much every day," she said with a smile that doesn't disappear often.

As a child, "Miss Lorna" described herself as quiet and shy, characteristics that she feels have carried into adulthood. But children bring out the best in her. "I have always loved kids," she said.

"Miss Lorna" also loves answering to "mom" from daughter Melissa, who graduated with honors from Hampton High School. And in her post-graduation endeavors, Melissa continues to make her mom proud.

When "Miss Lorna" leaves the LCDC each weekday afternoon, she prepares for her second job as a sales associate at a Langley Air Force Base (LAFB) store. At the end of her typical 12-hour workday, she likes to "just take off my shoes and relax." She also enjoys movies, going out to dinner and shopping.

And when she needs a vacation – there is always her birthplace, where her mom still resides. Ragland recently returned from a three-week visit to Jamaica. She loves the different fruits there and the cool breeze that provides relief from the heat.

But she also loves her home in Hampton and the extended family she has at the LCDC.

"I can't say what the future holds," she said. But she can say that she has played an important role in the futures of the students that she held so dear as infants.