Executive Director of Special Education
CEC Member Since 2010
“I always wanted to work with children; I knew that from the very beginning.”
But Jane’s beginnings in Detroit didn’t lead her directly to education. “Growing up, we didn’t have students with disabilities in our classrooms. But I was always drawn to working with children.” With that in mind, she began her career as an occupational therapist before finding her home in public education.
“I’m a big picture person,” Jane says. “I love to see the possibilities and take a team through the long-term planning to bring ideas to completion.”
For Jane, having students feel a sense of belonging in a community of learners is of utmost importance. “I’m very passionate about students being included and people accepting them for who they are. I believe they can accomplish anything they want to. That was instilled in me by my mother, and I’ve carried it over into my profession.”
Jane doesn’t want “good enough” for her students, she wants exceptional.
“We always have to raise the bar for them and make them see that they can be anything they want to be. I’m very driven, and I want them to get as far as they can in life. I’m the one that’s championing them and saying ‘Yes, they can. They can do that.’”
Losing her father during her high school years, Jane learned a lot from her mother’s positive attitude and strength, lessons she’s carried through to her day-to-day adult life. “Even though adversity’s going to come your way, those are hurdles you have to get over and you just have to keep going. There are always people behind you in various parts of your life who are holding you up and supporting you.” She shares these lessons with students, and threads that philosophy through everything she does for them.
As executive director of special education for Alexandria City Public Schools, Jane works side by side with staff to champion every opportunity for their students. “Good leaders hire knowledgeable staff they can trust and then they get out of their way. I need to stay in touch with what kids need. As soon as you lose that, you are just pushing paper.”
Why I Do What I Do
“It’s not about me. It’s about what we’re doing for our students.”
Aside from her mother, Jane counts her graduate professors among the most powerful influencers in her life. “When people see things in you that you don’t see in yourself, it boosts your confidence. It’s not that I didn’t believe in myself, but they really pushed me.”
How CEC Helps Jane Do More
My job as an administrator is to make sure my staff has all the resources they need so they can provide the very best services to our students. That means that my staff needs to continue to grow and stay current on the very latest special education research and practices. We rely on CEC as a source for professional development that provides our staff with the ongoing educational opportunities they need to stay on top of the issues and trends in our field.
Jane’s Favorite Book
Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon
I read to gain new knowledge and so I am always seeking out new information to learn and grow both personally and professionally. When I find the information helpful I share it with others. Each book that I share has a unique perspective on the topic and the concepts can be applied immediately to a life situation or used as reflection for the future.
If you could invite any one person to dinner, who would it be?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”