Janelle K. Moore
The Catapult Learning family lost another bright light when Janelle Moore passed away in February. Janelle was a beloved and dedicated member of the Literacy First team. Her colleague and dear friend Linda Power has penned the beautiful, loving tribute below to share with us the life and joy of Janelle Moore.
On February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, heaven welcomed Janelle Moore as undoubtedly one of its sweetest angels. Janelle was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and, as most of us knew her, a friend and educator.
Ironically, though Janelle was a super star, she shied away from the limelight. She softly influenced, inspired, and prompted the teachers and administrators she worked with toward school improvement. Horatius Bonar, a minister and poet, advised educators to “teach us by your lives.” Janelle did that. As a Literacy First consultant, I first met Janelle about 2006 when she was the instructional coach for the middle school in Haysville, Kansas; I worked with her there for several years and also through Literacy First/Catapult Learning for several more years. Though I knew her as a friend and colleague, I invited her former colleagues and clients to lend their voices to this tribute. Their words speak volumes about the impact Janelle had on them personally and on their schools. As I reached out to the teachers and school administrators she worked with and influenced, they repeatedly used words like “positive,” “friendly,” “thoughtful,” “kind,” “compassionate,” “attentive,” “cooperative,” “supportive,” “generous,” and “genuine,” to describe her. Janelle Moore taught by who she was and how she lived.
In 1994 Janelle began career in Haysville, first as a teacher and later, because of her knowledge of instruction and her ability to build relationships, as an instructional coach. A fellow coach praised Janelle’s ability to understand needs and her commitment to meeting those needs: “Janelle saw the big picture and the importance of each individual puzzle piece that created that picture. Whether working with a new teacher or focusing on the needs of a particular student, she would do whatever was necessary to bring success to each individual. She was the epitome of the relentless pursuit of excellence.” As a coach, Janelle tirelessly and meticulously made word games and developed a library of resources and tools for the reading teachers at Haysville, and she modeled in their classrooms.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the key to a great teacher is making hard things easy. I observed Janelle at a teacher table with struggling learners, and she did just that effortlessly; she made what was hard for them seem easy. She had not only a deep understanding of instruction, but also an uncanny sense or intuition of how to make learning happen. Coupled with that knowledge, was determination and a passion for helping children master the skill of reading!
Janelle inspired others through encouragement and kindness. A reading teacher recalled her absolute favorite saying from Janelle was “You are good stuff!” Who doesn’t want to hear that as they are learning and trying new strategies? Janelle also inspired others with her own desire for knowledge and with her goodness. A district administrator said, “Janelle was a learner as well as a teacher. She studied her craft and found a way to make that knowledge inviting to teachers. There isn’t anything Janelle wouldn’t do to support the learning of others or of herself. She was the well, and we could all go to her to soak up a little of that Janelle spirit . . . that soul.” I too gratefully drank from that well. I feel fortunate to have learned from her, as I am sure many of you with Literacy First and Catapult Learning may feel.
I believe those of us who knew her will long be influenced by her soft spoken ways and remember her smile that came so easily. Her clients praise that about her too. A principal in Liberal, Kansas, said, “Janelle always entered our building with a smile on her face, and it remained that way throughout the day.” While Janelle’s easy-going, sunny disposition was key to her success, under that softness was an iron-clad commitment to doing what was right and the mental agility to solve problems to the benefit of all involved.
Essential to being an effective consultant is being able to prompt change with appropriate feedback. It has been said that tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy. Janelle was an expert at tact! The principal at Liberal High School said, “She [Janelle] did an excellent job balancing her specific feedback and suggestions for growth with encouragement and understanding. While she was always able to point out areas that individual teachers or the leadership team could improve upon, we never felt judged or put down.” A Haysville colleague of Janelle’s echoed that trait: “She laughed easily and was always able to overlook our weaknesses and was not judgmental.”
British poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “What comes from the heart goes to the heart.” All the teachers and administrators referenced Janelle’s relationship building skills. A young Haysville administrator at the middle school where Janelle was the coach shared, “Janelle was a mentor, friend, and mother to me. Her oldest son and I went to high school together, so I had more than a professional relationship with her . . . Janelle Moore took care of us. She often knew what we needed personally and professionally before we even knew we needed it. This was a trait that was innate to her.” A principal where Janelle was a consultant said, “We knew enough about her family to know that she deeply loved them and was incredibly proud of them, and I felt like she truly enjoyed moments when we were able to share about our own families and proud moments. That kind of relationship—one that extends beyond merely the job at hand—is what made working with Janelle so special.”
Indeed Janelle was special. The instructional coach from Eisenhower Middle School in Liberal shared with me comments from teachers about what a positive impact Janelle had on their school, that she helped them be better teachers, that she inspired them to keep bettering themselves, that they will miss her smile, and that she was such a blessing in their lives. The Assistant Superintendent for Learning at Haysville echoed that sentiment about Janelle’s spirit: “I had the privilege of knowing Janelle’s mother when I was a little girl. Janelle reminds me of her . . . a kind and gentle soul that blessed all of those around her.”
Rest in peace, gentle Janelle; you taught with the way you lived.
In lieu of flowers, Janelle’s family asked that donations be made to FirstBook.org.