Janice Meyer ~ 1954-2011
Students and faculty at River Trails Middle School in Mount Prospect are mourning the loss of a favorite teacher. Janice Meyer, who taught 8th grade math and was appreciated for being able help students understand difficult concepts, died Feb. 19.
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Mrs. Meyer battled ovarian cancer for two years, though she continued teaching through January. At the time of her passing, she was 56.
"She was always the first one to arrive and the last one to leave," said Assistant Principal Anita Block. "She was passionate about her job and loved what she did."
Mrs. Meyer was the school secretary before she moved into the classroom six years ago, taking over the load held by Block before she went into administration.
Mrs. Meyer taught three sections of pre-algebra and two of high school level algebra to eighth graders. Yet, schools officials say she had a special way of connecting with students, especially those who had a difficult time understanding algebra concepts.
Her colleagues said there was always a line of students waiting to ask her questions during study hall, and she stayed after school nearly every day to offer extra help.
"She had this vast amount of knowledge in math, but she could relate it in such a way that the kids could understand it, and that was the magic combination," Block added. "You could almost see the light bulb going off in their heads."
Many of Mrs. Meyer's former students posted online tributes to her, describing her as their "favorite teacher" and the "best teacher (they) ever had."
When they returned from school after the President's Day holiday and learned of her passing, social workers were on hand to help them process their loss.
At her visitation service last week, one boy seemed particularly moved. He said Mrs. Meyer was one of the few teachers who understood him and was able to work with him where he was at.
"She got me," he said simply.
Block said faculty members, too, looked up to Meyer as a mentor and role model in her way of working with students.
"She was a wonderful teacher and educator," Block said. "Kids knew she cared about them and that she wanted them to be successful. She will be sorely missed."
Mrs. Meyer is survived by her husband, Carl, who has taught symphonic orchestra at Glenbrook North and South high schools in Glenview for 30 years, as well as her children Katie (Mark) Termion, Jeffrey and Emily.
Services have been held, but family members ask that supporters consider making a donation to the organization known as FORCE, or Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, based in Tampa, FL.
It is the only national nonprofit organization devoted to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and may be found at facingourrisk.org.