Friends and colleagues hugged Teri Foster goodbye and remembered old times at a gathering in the Monte Rio Community Center last week.
Foster, a familiar face along the lower Russian River in Jenner and Monte Rio for nearly 50 years, is moving back east to Pittsburgh, Pa., this summer to live in a tiny house and be closer to family.
“It’s time,” said Foster, 68, who’s been a Monte Rio School teacher and school board trustee and now operates the Loving & Learning day care center she opened in Guernewood Park 11 years ago. Her Loving & Learning Center property is up for sale and Foster hopes it will remain a child care facility run by current staff.
“I’ve had 11 beautiful, wonderful years here,” said Foster.
Last year Foster sold her house in Jenner where she’s lived since the early 1970s. She came to Sonoma County from Southern California nearly 50 years ago after she had earned her library sciences degree and was hired as the librarian at Rincon Valley School in Santa Rosa.
“Presto, I was in Northern California,” said Foster. “I never looked back.”
Over the years she’s taught at Monte Rio School and Guerneville School and has served as a substitute teacher at many local schools. She served two terms as Monte Rio school board trustee including a stint as board president. Besides teaching and child care, she’s owned a retail business in Guerneville, delivered newspapers and worked as a columnist for local papers.
In the 1970s Foster and her husband found a place in Jenner they considered their dream house on a hill above town with a view of the ocean and the Russian River. She’s watched Jenner change from a family-oriented little town to a busy vacation rental destination.
But she’s seeing new families arriving in the lower river community for its relative affordability, said Foster. Some of them are enrolling their kids at her Loving & Learning Center.
For now, Foster’s living in a trailer in Monte Rio while awaiting her new home. She plans to continue providing child care in Pittsburgh.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is work with kids,” said Foster. “I still have a lot of years to do that. I don’t want to give that up.”
When she heads for Pittsburgh this summer she’ll park her tiny house on wheels in the backyard of a Pittsburgh homeowner. The house is under construction at the Oregon manufacturer, who will deliver it to Guerneville in about two months. When it gets here, Foster said she hopes to hold an open house before towing her home across the country.
“But I’ll be coming back for visits,” said Foster. “I’ve just loved my time here.”