Born and raised in Providence, R.I. to Ann Waite and Robert Archer, Karen Archer has been shaping young minds in the Essex Junction/Shelburne area since 1993. She has a younger sister, Kimberly Smith, and three step-siblings: Peter Waite, Tom Waite, and Mary Waite.
Karen studied physical education and health education at the University of Vermont before going on to receive her Master’s degree in school counseling, also from UVM. Karen spent 34 years teaching in Essex Junction, where she and a fellow teacher started the Essex High School Unified Sports Program, which brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same team. She just retired last year. Congratulations, Karen!
Karen may be retired from teaching, but she still holds a full-time job, working at Gardener’s Supply in Burlington. “Education was my dream job, and now I’m in my second dream job,” Karen says. “I’m a lucky person and I really love what I do.”
Karen says one of the great things about Gardener’s Supply is that they donate 8 percent of their profits back to the community for programs and organizations that help improve the area’s gardens and agricultural endeavors. She also says they do things like distribute turkeys to those in need at Thanksgiving, and help stock the local food shelf.
In addition to her work at Gardener’s supply, Karen is a tour guide at Shelburne Farms and helps to organize and run the Wendy J Pierson Memorial Golf Tournament that raises money for brain cancer research. She also participates in and fundraises for the Farmington, Conn. Relay for Life, in memory of her Aunt, Barbara Gray.
Although she is no longer a teacher, she continues to find ways to give back to the local community. Karen lives with her two cats, King Tommy Pickles and Chessie, who she says were named by her nephew.
Interests/hobbies: Walking, gardening, cooking, teaching
Favorite book/author: Anything by Madeleine L’Engle
Favorite food: Anything in season or local. Choosing a favorite food is difficult, but Karen says she is excited for the first peas of the season, and everything that comes after that in the season. She frequents the farmer’s market to find things she doesn’t grow herself.
Favorite Shelburne Haunt: Shelburne Farms. “I love walking at Shelburne Farms,” Karen says. “It always makes me feel rested, grounded, and peaceful.”
Favorite music: Folk, classical, jazz, new age, and more. “It depends on the mood,” she says.
Bucket list: Hot air balloon ride. Every five years, Karen and her cousin do something big together, and a hot air balloon ride is next on their list!