by Marissa Lorenz
American historian Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity; [she] can never tell where [her] influence stops,” and the sentiment could not be more true than when teachers have impacted generations of students, such as West Grand’s Jane Janssen.
Mrs. Janssen was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. She studied science and physics at the University of Idaho and, upon graduating, came to Colorado to attend the School of Nuclear Medicine Technology. It was there that she met her now-husband, Larry.
The couple were married in Estes Park, a trip that would fortuitously lead to their relocating to Kremmling a short four-months later to establish their family and their shared life. Mrs. Janssen became involved in teaching at her church and volunteering at West Grand Elementary School (WGES) when her son entered as a kindergartner.
She explains that she was drawn to elementary-age children because, “Kids are such sponges! They just soak up information. And to be there for that light-bulb moment is a real gift.”
And it is that reward that motivated Mrs. Janssen to pursue her teacher’s certification through Regis University and, eventually, a master’s degree with a concentration in curriculum from Adams State University.
Since 1986, Mrs. Janssen would work at WGES as a volunteer, student teacher, substitute teacher, paraprofessional, and classroom teacher. She spent most of her career in the fourth-grade classroom. And she most recently served as the Title I reading teacher.
In each of those roles, Mrs. Janssen has worked to continue inspiring a love of learning and discovery in her students.
She remembers the first day of school in 2017 as being particularly memorable, as it fell on the date of a total and near-total eclipse visible from much of North America. Kremmling fell in the deep umbrage, if not total descent of the eclipse, and Mrs. Janssen had organized a whole program of activities for students.
“It was so much fun to prepare!” she still says excitedly. “It brought me back to my science background, and it was great to get the students excited about what they’d be seeing. –It was the greatest umbrage I’ve ever seen. It was amazing!”
Mrs. Janssen already knows that the next total eclipse to reach the area will be in 2045. She says that she has made her two grandchildren promise to take her to Summit County from where there will be the best and nearest viewing.
In August of last year, Mrs. Janssen received her 25-year teacher’s pin from West Grand, though she has spent the better part of 35 years in the school.
In January, she submitted her letter of resignation, effective next week, with the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
“I am so grateful for the many opportunities I have had at West Grand and for the friendships I have developed with current and former WGSD staff members,” expressed Mrs. Janssen in her letter of resignation.
But Mrs. Janssen is ready to move onto her next adventure, devoting herself to her many varied interests, such as sewing, jewelry making, camping, and learning more about her family history–committing more time to her participation in the Grand County Lodge of the Sons of Norway. She looks forward to finishing some home redecorating and, of course, she is looking forward to “spoiling her grandchildren,” who now live just down the street from her in Kremmling.
“I already know I will miss the students,” Mrs. Janssen confirms. And when asked what she will miss the most, she responds without hesitation: “The expression on a kid’s face when they finally “get it”–it is gold.
It is platinum. It is priceless.”
Mrs. Janssen was recognized with an award of Excellence in Education at this week’s special meeting of the West Grand Schools Board of Education and will be celebrated, along with fellow retiree Laura Gore, at a reception on Tuesday, June 1, at 4:30 in the District Boardroom and Elementary Field.
The community is invited to the reception in order to pass on best wishes to both teachers.