Remembering Jan Austin

Hello Neighbors,

As you know, our dear friend, neighbor, and school staff member, Janet Austin, passed away on Dec. 30, 2016. Jan's family would like to express their appreciation to all the Graham, Bubb, and Cuesta Park community members who have reached out with messages, cards, letters, gift cards, food, and attendance at the memorial service. They are very thankful for all the support from us -- many of whom they've never met -- but they weren't sure how to thank everyone. So on their behalf, please know that your kindness has been a comfort to them during this difficult time.

Amy Fazio
Bubb parent








We recently nominated Jan for the Project Cornerstone Caring Adult Award. We do not yet know if Jan won the award, but it seems fitting to share what was written about her for the award.

Janet (Jan) Austin was a caring member of our Mountain View school community for over 20 years: first as a parent, office volunteer, and a lunch time aid at Bubb Elementary School, and then as a clerk at Graham Middle School for the last five years. In all her roles, Jan always put the needs of the students first. Students knew they could count on Jan for support; she was often the first person they turned to when they needed help. She coached, consoled, and counseled them like a caring parent. Jan set the bar high, and held kids accountable for their work and behavior – yet always with grace and kindness.

Jan was that friendly, cheerful face that greets students (and parents) when they stepped off the school bus or stepped into the office. Students and staff alike also eagerly awaited Jan’s daily lunch time announcements. These announcements were not your normal announcements -- these announcements made everyone stop in their tracks to hear what crazy and funny thing Jan was going to say to motivate students to come to the school dance, to sell more wrapping paper, or to come to the book fair. Her hilarious messages made everyone smile, but also increased student participation at all school events. Jan was always positive, creative, caring, funny, and motivating. We are very proud to have had Jan represent our school – she was an exemplary role model for our students, staff, and parents!

In our very socio-economically diverse district, it’s often painfully clear who are the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Jan was the one that noticed and bridged the gap to make sure every student felt like they belonged. At both Bubb Elementary School and Graham Middle School, she had a tremendous, life-long impact on the lives of students and their families.

Jan always went the extra mile when it came to students and never expected a thing in return. On many occasions she noticed that a student needed something – lunch, school supplies, even Halloween costumes. One time, a little boy came into the office at Bubb crying because he didn’t have a Halloween costume so Jan went out and bought him one that same day so he could participate in the big parade. From then on, Jan always brought a large bag of Halloween costumes from her nieces and nephews to share with students so no one ever felt left out. On another occasion, a parent had brought Jan In N Out burger for lunch to say thank you for her help. Within 10 minutes, she had given it to a student that didn’t have lunch. Jan always, always put the needs of others before her own.

Students often came to Jan for help resolving conflicts. She was a great listener and knew how to get to the heart of the problem. In a kind and caring way, Jan explained acceptable behavior, modeled empathy, and coached kids to make smart decisions. It was never about punishment; it was always about compassion and teaching. As a lunch time yard duty, Jan often participated in Project Cornerstone training sessions. She played a very important role in helping reinforce the positive, bucket-filling behavior and conflict resolution skills on the playground. And in her role at the middle school, Jan continued to reinforce those positive skills.

One of Jan’s responsibilities at Graham Middle School was coordinating the CELDT test (CA language test that reclassifies English language learns to main stream classes). Before the test, she often called the ELD students to the office for a little pep talk and encouragement. Jan explained to them the importance of doing their best on the exam and of being able to move to mainstream classes. Her advice did not go unnoticed. The students often wrote about her in their exam essays. Since Jan took over the role of CELDT Coordinator, the number of students that reclassify as fully English proficient continues to grow exponentially. Those pep talks seem to be working.

On Tuesday evenings for the last 3 years, Jan volunteered (with cookies and candies in hand) to take care of kids so that their parents could attend Family Engagement (a weekly parenting class offered at Graham). Jan made it possible for many parents to come who otherwise could not afford childcare. This is yet another example of Jan’s generous, unconditional giving.

Jan played a very important role in the lives of many, many students. Although she may not have been a certified teacher, Jan taught them critical life skills – like the importance of kindness, caring, respect, and responsibility -- that will help students succeed long after they leave school.

Jan, you are loved and missed. Thank you for giving your heart and soul to the children of Mountain View.


Ways we shared thoughts and memories of Jan
Thank you to so many of you who took a moment to share a kind thought about Jan. We provided a few options in the office.
1) There was a box labeled "Cards for Jan’s Family" to collect cards or letters for her family
2) We also placed out some Post-It notes and pens which many wrote a brief thought or memory about Jan. We taped the post-it notes on the window and created a tribute wall.
All are being collected and given to Jan's family, who will greatly appreciate reading all of your supportive and kind thoughts during this difficult time.

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Ways to Offer Support to Jan’s Family
If you would like to offer your support, consider purchasing a gift card to any of the following places: Togo’s, Panda Express, Pizza Restaurants in the area, KFC and In & Out. Please bring any gift cards to the office. They will be given to the family to purchase meals during this challenging time. Thanks.
Mountain View Whisman School District

Graham Middle School
1175 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 526-3570