Janet Hughes Mersereau

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” — Mother Teresa

My wife and children’s book author, Janet Hughes Mersereau, is a passionate instructor. She has dedicated her life to teaching, mentoring, and practicing the Golden Rule. She is a model for multicultural advocacy and has exceptional intuitive skills as an ESL teacher. She “pays it forward.” As a former student in a vocational school setting I had the opportunity to observe Janet’s teaching style. Her ultimate objective was to help me realize my full potential. She encouraged me to implement a project that demonstrated my mastery of the subject and allowed for an exemption of the class. For the past 35 years in multiple teaching settings Janet has encouraged all of her students to become self-reliant learners. What pride I have felt when some of these students have developed their English language skills sufficiently to apply and become United States citizens. Facilitating that achievement is heroic.

Janet was born in Dayton, Washington, in 1947 and attended a two-room schoolhouse in Paterson, Washington before moving to Prosser in the same state. She graduated with honors in 1965 and retired a national Latin competition trophy for Prosser high school in that same year. Motivated by her mentor and Latin teacher, Mrs. Cochran, Janet continued her college education at the University of Oregon. Janet was a dorm counselor for freshman women, was selected for Mortar Board, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts English degree in 1969. She lived for a summer in Ireland as a delegate of the Experiment in International Living, and then continued her Master of Arts English/Education degree at the University of Oregon, graduating in 1971. Her first multicultural teaching assignment was in Wahiawa, Hawaii as a Leilehua High School instructor. One student was so motivated by Janet’s supportive teaching style that, for an instructional unit on Shakespeare, he presented her with an exact scale model of the Globe Theatre made out of toothpicks. In 1973 Janet published an illustrated book featuring her original poems entitled Hues, Rays, and Rainbows. In 1974 she was commissioned by the Marine Corps League of Tucson, Arizona to write historical and promotional articles about the area for the program book of a national MCL convention being held in Tucson.

In both formal and informal settings Janet has consistently modeled passion, enthusiasm and tenacity as an educator and mentor for her students. Her correspondence with former pupils reflects a deep concern as many have progressed in their chosen careers throughout the world. Formally, Janet has taught in settings as a vocational school instructor, ESL Newcomer teacher, Mt. Hood Community College instructor, substitute teacher for both the Portland and Beaverton School Districts, Summer TAG and Migrant Program instructor, private school ESL instructor and as a private school mentor. Informally Janet has volunteered at the Multnomah County Library for the past decade as a Homework Helper, Library Ambassador, Summer Reading Assistant, and ESL mentor. She has also helped ESL students develop language skills through a local church program. In 1994, 1997, 1998, and 1999 Janet served as a SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) volunteer. She published her children’s book, Nobody Has a Funny Name, in 1998 and donated 10 copies to each of the over 100 participating Oregon school libraries. I witnessed our Barnes School SMART participant, Yuri Terada, read the first copy of Janet’s book. In 2000 and 2005 Janet received awards from Multnomah County for her exceptional service as a library volunteer. Janet Hughes Mersereau is my heroine because she has lived her dream with extraordinary dedication and passion.

“There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough.” — Mother Teresa

close window