by Lorie Lewis Ham
Here at Kings River Life Magazine, we realize how important teachers are to the lives of our children and the future of our communities as they shape the leaders of tomorrow. Sadly, most of the best teachers work long hours with little recognition or thanks. Our goal here is to take a moment to thank as many of these teachers as we can — the teachers that make a difference.
From our “Exceeding Expectations” series;
profiles of those who go above and beyond:
Janet Adams began teaching English at Reedley High School (RHS) in December of 1979. “I have taught English 9, English 10, English 10 Accelerated, US History, World Cultures, American Literature, California Literature, Creative Prose and Poetry, Peer Counseling. I also worked as a counselor for eight years.”
She also founded the peer-counseling program through a CEIF (California Educational Initiatives Fund) grant that she wrote in 1990. This was one of many grants that she has written over the years for academic test preparation, tobacco intervention, school safety and seat belt safety. “I think the total comes to about $400,000.”
Along with her duties at RHS, she currently works with the Upward Bound program at Reedley College and has, in the past, taught in Knoxville, Tennessee, at Mt. Whitney High School and Valley Oak Middle School in Visalia, and John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento.
Born in a plank and rock house in the back woods of the Ozark Mountains, Janet’s beginnings were very simple. As part of a family of migrant farm workers, she moved back and forth between California and Arkansas for several years, finally settling in California when Janet was four. Her first job was in the fields at the age of eleven. “I picked grapes and trayed them.”
At the age of sixteen, she says she moved up in the world and got a job at a packing house. “From there, I became a white collar worker. I sold shoes for JCPenney during my college years. After that, I worked as the manager of the jewelry department for Best Products, Co. in Sacramento. They were the forerunner to Price Club and Costco.”
Her own early schooling included Taft Elementary, Washington Jr. High in Sanger, and Sanger High School, with her first year of college being at CSU Fresno. After that, her father was transferred to Sacramento where she attended Cosumnes River College the first year it opened. “I earned my teaching credential at CSU Sacramento and my masters and pupil personnel services credential at Fresno Pacific University.”
While living in Sacramento, Janet met her husband, Norbert Edwin Croghan, who was from Montana but living in Visalia at the time. After they were married, his work took him to Reedley where she began substituting for a teacher who was ill and never returned. That was the beginning of her long career at Reedley High School. “It is ironic that we ended up in Reedley as I never planned to come back to the valley after living in Sacramento for eight years.”
Janet and Norbert were married for twenty-nine years before his passing in 2005. She has a daughter named Briana who is in the nursing program at CSU Fresno and a granddaughter named Keira.
Through the years, Janet has found the hardest part of her job is always the politics and the focus on test taking. But she loves interacting with students, planning lessons, and delving into literature. She feels each school day is intense for students and teachers. “We move very quickly through the day.”
“Ms. Adams is a wonderful teacher. All of her students will remember her not only for her English lessons, but rather, for her universal quotes and interpretations of how English themes relate to the present,” said RHS sophomore Kristalyn Patzkowski.
Even some of her down time connects to English, as she is part of a book club that meets at the Reedley Library, and always has a wealth of information to share with the others in the club about the book they are reading. She encourages her students to attend as well.
RHS Senior Antonio Sandoval is one of those students who has attended a book club with her. “Ms. Adams is unique. She’s a teacher as well as a dreamy individual with style in teaching and attitude. She’s funny, witty, and light on her feet. I won’t be forgetting her after high school.”
“Janet’s rapport with students is unmatched,” said Ron Hudson, Deputy Superintendent, Kings Canyon Unified School District. “Janet has a special gift of combining compassion and expectation in her relationship with students. She can uniquely communicate to a student what they need now with what is best for them in the future. Janet is born to be an educator.”
Janet plans to teach for as long as possible. “Life requires it, and the students at Reedley energize me!”