In 1969 Fuentes started working at the Buckhead private school after spending a year and a half teaching Latin at North Springs High in Sandy Springs.
“It was very nice, very pleasant. … In the first year I taught three classes of New Testament history,” she said. “I had two classes of sixth grade, which was a culture shock, with an English class and a social studies class with the same students.”
Earlier this month Fuentes, the school’s alumni director, said goodbye to students at Lovett after spending 44 years at the school. Her last day is June 30. Through 2007 she taught history, mainly Advanced Placement European history, plus German, Latin and religion. She served as an academic advisor through 2005, coached tennis and cheerleading and was the alumni director for 28 years.
A New Orleans native, Fuentes has bachelor’s degrees in history and secondary education from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in history from Georgia State University.
“I came over from living in New Orleans, and [Lovett] has been very much a family and a very strongly bonded community,” she said. “I’ve worked for several headmasters, principals, history department heads and advancement directors. … It’s very much a family kind of community when there are family situations or deaths in the community, people come together very strongly. It’s a very loyal, closely bonded community.”
Fuentes, who lives in Vinings with her husband Roland, said she decided in January 2012 she would retire at the end of this school year.
“I’ve always enjoyed it very much but I felt it was time to get involved in other things, and also for somebody else to be in the alumni office,” she said. “New ideas, new people are very useful in keeping things progressive. … I’m going to be a volunteer at the Atlanta History Center, play a lot more tennis, spend a little more time away during the summer. I plan on keeping up my Lovett connections and maybe do a couple of projects for Lovett. … I’m not moving away.”
Mary Timberlake, Lovett’s employee relations specialist and a 1975 graduate, has known Fuentes since the seventh grade, when she chaperoned the class trip to Washington. Timberlake, who has worked at the school for 10 years, also was a cheerleader coached by Fuentes.
“She is just what represents so much about the school on all sorts of levels,” Timberlake said. “She’s a historian. She’s a communicator with all sorts of families. She’s an amazing teacher and a storyteller. She would teach history as a story. She was a great teacher.
“As alumni director, she has the energy to keep everybody motivated and involved after they move on from Lovett. She’s become a great fundraiser for the alumni association. She has a great way of staying in touch with multiple generations.”
Timberlake said Fuentes will be tough to replace.
“She has a walking Rolodex in her brain,” she said. “It will be difficult [without her], but she has laid some good foundations around here. People will still be drawn back to the school because of what she’s done. She’s made it easy to want to come back and be involved. … She makes you want to stay involved. She doesn’t give you a choice. She asks you in a way you can’t say no. A lot of alumni would say the same thing.”
In addition to Lovett’s growth, Fuentes said the school’s emphasis on community service is one of the biggest changes she’s noticed in nearly four and a half decades. The thought of retirement has not set in yet, she said.
“All my life I’ve gone to school, so it will be different not having the routine of school, getting up at 5:30 a.m. and going in early, at 7:30, to get a good parking place.” Fuentes said. “I don’t think much about it now, but by fall, when it’s time to come back, it will be a reordering of my schedule.”