There are few people that come along in your life that really make a difference. Dr. Janine Steffan was one of those people. I met Janine offhandedly in the small conference room at Perry Elementary where she was working with another post grad student on their doctorate in education. Later on we became fast literacy buddies when we both served on the District 300 Literacy Committee which was dedicated to helping struggling students to become passionate about reading, especially at the middle school level.
The committee worked tirelessly to come up with ideas for reading. She, and others, reached out to educators and special reading groups of educators to find, 1. best practices, 2. ideas, and 3. once we came up the the idea and money would you support it. She was a genius when it came to helping youngsters read.
Janine’s recent research was in the field of adolescent reading and performance assessment. Her skills in performance assessment were spot on especially when we finished a program for students to determine if it was helpful and provided success for them in reading.
Janine was so kind, so thoughtful, so centered in best practices for students – it made my heart have hope for struggling students. We would come up with ideas in how we could raise money just for literacy. One of our favorite ideas was to have a tea party with a well-known author. The committee had a few great ideas.
The countless hours that were spent off the clock on the Literacy Committee showed how much she really cared for student success. She touched so many students. One of the programs we worked on brought an internationally renowned author in to talk to students about her books and her art. That author helped to turn a student’s academics career around. Janine wanted us to showcase the student in our Gala so that our donors knew we were reaching students. She knew what worked for struggling students and wanted to celebrate it all the time.
There are so many of us today where our souls are sad today. She touched so many lives and cared deeply for students. Janine will be a joyful light to be remembered.
Many thanks to Helen Lawrence for the photo.