On April 2, 2017, Janet Bliss Mello passed away at age 68. A lifetime educator—she worked as a classroom teacher and a staff developer—Janet spent the last 17 years as a national and international educational consultant. During her years as a consultant for Literacy First and Catapult Learning, Janet’s passion and enthusiasm for education affected the teachers, administrators, and colleagues with whom she collaborated.

Below is brief excerpt from Janet’s obituary, written by Julia Earl:
Janet’s calling in life was education. She worked tirelessly and passionately to improve learning for children and for everyone else involved in schools. She brought expertise, compassion, insight, and joy into her work. Through this work, Janet enthusiastically travelled and experienced many places and people. She loved her colleagues, particularly her Literacy First family, and she was always ready to welcome and mentor a new colleague or educator. Janet had the gift of making scores of friends and connecting people wherever she went. 

For those lucky enough to have worked with Janet at Literacy First and Catapult Learning, Janet’s passing is a moment to pause and reflect on the true impact that Janet had on their lives. The following In Memoriam—co-written by Diana Brown, Julia Earl, and Sherry Davis—paints a vivid picture of Janet as a thoughtful, intelligent, and loving colleague and friend:

“If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you? The words will never show, the YOU I’ve come to know . . .”

For those of us who knew Janet as a colleague and friend, we hope this tribute will be ever etched in your many memories of her. For those who did not have the privilege of knowing Janet, we will paint a vivid picture of the beautiful person that she was inside and out that will somehow help you visualize her extraordinary attributes. We hope these words will describe her and the legacy she has left for us.

Janet was so very colorful. Her personality sparkled. Sometimes literally . . . from head to toe! Color symbolism in each of the colors best describes Janet as we paint her picture.

Red symbolizes courage, determination, devotion, energy, excitement, fashion, strength, and success. When Janet first learned of her fatal lung condition, she vowed to spend the time she had by living life to the fullest . . . and she certainly did. She kept working and traveled overseas to see places and be with her friends and colleagues while fulfilling her passion of making a difference in the lives of educators and children. She laughed and loved and was still very much the “life of the party”! Her determination and the energy she brought to her work with schools resulted in success; and, of course, her wardrobe and fashion were topics of conversation with all of us. Red also symbolizes warmth, and those who knew Janet remember the high emphasis she placed on building personal and professional relationships.

Blue represents loyalty, peace, calmness, compassion, harmony, intelligence, trust, and responsibility. Janet’s loyalty to friends, her ability to bring peace and calmness to any situation, and her compassion for educators, children, friends, and family served her well. She was passionate about children, always taking the responsibility of doing what was best for them and viewing challenging work assignments as an opportunity. She had courageous conversations and taught each of us to have them too. She was always “soft” on the person and “hard” on the problem. Through her outstanding interpersonal relationship skills, she brought harmony and trust to her work. Coupled with her intelligence and creativity, Janet facilitated outstanding results benefiting educators and their students.

Green reflects adventure, life, generosity, faith, and renewal. It would be difficult to write anything about Janet and not mention her strong faith which was the central part of her life. She modeled this faith in all of her life’s endeavors. Her generosity and sensitivity to others was an automatic part of her nature. Janet always arrived at professional development sessions that she was facilitating early to make sure that all participants would be comfortable in the setting. An example of this sensitivity was when she learned that one of her instructional coaches had a hearing loss and struggled to understand when seated in the back. Janet ensured her a seat in the front to best accommodate the participant’s disability.

Yellow symbolizes friendship, forgiveness, happiness, and inspiration. It is the frame for our picture of Janet. Janet brought all of these traits to her personal relationships. Janet loved. She loved her daughter with all her heart. She loved her friends and colleagues and would light up the room with her presence, not just the bling on her clothes! She knew no strangers—not even in London, when cruising down the Thames River she noticed a man sitting by himself and asked him to dance. Later she shared that the man had lost his wife the year before and they had taken this cruise for their anniversaries in the past. She offered her hand in friendship and somehow eased the man’s loneliness. The legacy of the many friendships she developed throughout the years, including the happy times with friends, her spirituality that always allowed forgiveness, and her ongoing inspiration to those whose lives she touched, is the frame for our picture of Janet. One of the most powerful inspirational thoughts she shared was on the importance of lingering by slowing down in this life which is so hectic and taking pleasure in the moment instead of thinking about the past or worrying about the future.

“If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die
I’d spend the end with you.
And when the world was through,
Then one by one the stars would all go out.
Then you and I would simply fly away.” 

Janet brought such joy, love, support, and compassion to those who were blessed to know her. She will always be missed. She has truly left a legacy and earned her glittery wings. The stars have not gone out. She is one of the brightest ones in the sky.