Beloved teacher plans to travel in retirement

Trip may be short for
Jackson educator
eager to keep working

Trip may be short for
Jackson educator
eager to keep working

JACKSON — After 48 years in education, including 34 years with the Jackson school district, Barbara Kane has decided it’s time to take a break. She’s going to travel — maybe to Australia, Hawaii and Alaska .

Then she’s going to go back to work.

"I’ve already had offers to teach Latin in New York," she said. "Not right away, but eventually I may get back to the classroom for a while. There is such a need out there to teach the classics."

That dedication to teaching and to encouraging what she calls "scholarly pursuits" is what has motivated Kane to dedicate her life and career to education. She was an elementary teacher for seven years, a high school teacher of Latin and history for seven years, a high school guidance counselor for 29 years, director of the summer high school program for three years, district guidance supervisor for one and a half years and director of student personnel services, her current position, for the last four years.

Her impact on the district — especially on the students who had her as a guidance counselor — was celebrated by the Board of Education recently as it accepted her notice of retirement, which is effective Aug. 1.

"She has been an inspiration to our students and she will be sorely missed," board President Michael Hanlon said. "I can’t imagine how many lives she has touched, how many futures she has helped shape. She deserves to enjoy her retirement knowing she has earned the love and respect of this entire district."

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Gialanella said the years Kane spent in the Guidance Department, combined with her dedication to the needs of Jackson’s special education students and parents, made her an important resource for the district.

"By helping to shape students’ lives through her character, kindness, intellect and passion, Barbara has left her mark on Jackson," he said. "I think I speak for the entire district when I offer her our deepest appreciation and our good wishes for a wonderful retirement."

Kane said the Jackson school district has been a wonderful place to spend the last 34 years.

"I’ve worked with the most incredible teachers, students and administrators here," she said. "That has been the highlight of my life, the wonderful professionals, parents and students with whom I’ve shared the last 34 years."

Whether she was a teacher, guidance counselor or administrator, Kane said her goal was always the same — to encourage students to push themselves to be the best they can be.

"I wanted to encourage scholarly pursuits, to get students to reach for the best possible avenue for success and to not give up on themselves, no matter what," Kane said. "That is just a gift that God has given me, to be able to help turn students around."

Kane also practiced what she preached by earning multiple degrees and academic honors during her career including a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship, a National Humanities Fellowship at Harvard University, A National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship at the University of Texas, the Critical Issues in Urban Special Education Program through the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and fellowships at Syracuse University, Canisius College and Boston University.

Kane majored in Latin and with a minor in Greek as an undergraduate at the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. She also earned two advanced degrees — a master’s degree in classical languages (Latin and Greek) at Villanova University and a master’s degree in Asian history from St. John’s University.

Margaret "Peggy" Quinn, a close friend who worked with Kane for 31 years before she retired as superintendent of schools in 2001, said Kane is the "consummate professional" in everything she does.

"Throughout her career, she had a kindness and a passion that demonstrated a purposeful advocacy for all of Jackson," Quinn said. "Her concern was so strong that it went beyond the student and included the parents and families of our students. She deserves all the health and happiness in the world."

The years of inspiring by example continue to be met with the hugs and praise Kane receives from people whose lives she touched.

At this year’s high school retirement fete, Kane was approached by a parent whose son was one of those students on the verge of abandoning a positive academic career.

"She told me her son is now a principal of a school in North Carolina and that the family is so proud of him," Kane said. "She was crying as she thanked me and said I did something very special for her entire family. Comments like that mean so much and make it a bit easier to leave a career I have loved for so long."