Jane Marie Gleason
November 22, 1949 – July 4, 2020
Jane Marie Gleason, age 70, of Cary, North Carolina, passed away peacefully in her home on July 4, 2020, lovingly surrounded by her family, after her third battle with cancer.
She was born in Washington, DC and attended school in Hyattsville, Maryland, where she was a cheerleader at Northwestern High School. During her summer vacations from school, she lived in Belhaven, North Carolina, helping her grandmother and playing on the banks of the Pungo River. She loved returning to Belhaven as an adult and relaying her childhood memories to her family and friends.
After high school, she attended East Carolina University, where she first majored in nursing but quickly changed majors when she discovered her love of education. She maintained lifelong friendships with her ECU sisters of Alpha Omicron Pi. She graduated in May, 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She worked for Wake County Public Schools as an Elementary Math Supervisor while she obtained her Masters of Education from ECU, and then worked as an Adjunct Professor of Education for North Carolina State University. Dr. Gleason earned her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986.
During this time, she was diagnosed with AML Leukemia and received treatment at Duke University. At that time, most were not cured from that type of Leukemia, but Jane fought for her life and survived. She became the first person at Duke to go into and stay in remission from that disease. She later fought and beat Lymphoma in 2019.
She met her husband, Tom English, in 1982 and they married in 1986. In 1991, they traveled to Chile, stayed there for a month, and returned home to North Carolina with their daughters, Paulina and Susannah. The same year, they bought their house in Cary where the family still resides today.
Dr. Gleason joined the faculty of Meredith College in 1989, first as an Associate Professor and eventually became a Professor Emeritus. She remained there for the entirety of her career, finishing her final semester in May, 2020. She had planned to retire in August, 2020.
She was the consummate professional in her dealings with students and colleagues, among the latter she counted the teachers she worked with closely in the schools. Jane often had to defend her evidence-based teaching approach, but did so tirelessly and with considerable moral authority and integrity. She was well aware that many of the students who aspired to be teachers were reticent when dealing with the subject of mathematics and handled that anxiety with compassion. She could do all of these things, and still hold the students to very high standards. From time to time, Jane had student assistants who were paid to help her work through various projects. These students were often devoted to her, and she typically treated them like members of her own family. She was a lifelong advocate for increases in funding for public schools and public school teachers. She was active in both the National and State Teachers Associations, and provided consulting services across the US for the nonprofit organization, Educational Testing Service.
As her own children grew older, she branched out into international work with her students in Nigeria and Guatemala, and even included her own family on some of these trips. She traveled to remote schools in those countries to help those who were not as advantaged as students in the U.S., creating a huge and memorable impact teaching the teachers and students there. Her passion was working with an organization called Sueños, in Antigua, Guatemala, that provides a safe space of empowerment, learning and collaboration for the children of street vendors through out-of-school-time education. This organization is working to break the cycle of child labor in Antigua by providing the education and support students need to finish their studies and find normal jobs. She traveled there several times, bringing other teachers and students with her to share knowledge and experiences and learn from their community.
Dr. Gleason was absolutely devoted to teaching mathematics to elementary school children around the world, whom she always referred to as “The Little People.”
In addition to her work in education, she loved all the animals of the world, especially the unwanted ones. She adopted stray animals her entire life, and donated tirelessly to organizations that supported and cared for rescued animals.
She appreciated craftsmanship and artists of all kinds, especially artisans local to NC or any part of the world where she was traveling. Wherever she traveled, she always returned with locally-made, beautiful, handcrafted items, and enjoyed telling the story of the local artist from whom she purchased it. She especially loved traveling to the coasts and mountains of North Carolina with her husband and family.
Jane is survived by her beloved husband, Tom English of Cary, NC, their daughters Paulina and Susannah English, and dogs, Tulla, Danny, and Kwinn. She is also survived by her sister, Nancy Floria and husband, William Floria, Sr. of Frederick, Maryland, and her sister-in-law Susan Orman of Springfield, Tennessee. She was a devoted aunt and close friend to several nieces and nephews, including William Floria, Jr. and his wife Diane, of Jefferson, MD, Kathy Troxell and her husband Danny of New Market, MD, Marisa Probert and her husband Carl, of Frederick, MD, Angela Weir and her husband Chris of Holly Springs, NC, and Shannon Doris and her husband David of Pleasant View, TN. In addition, she is survived by numerous great-nieces and great-nephews, all of whom she enjoyed personal relationships with. She is also survived by many lifelong friends and colleagues with whom she had close and special relationships.
She was preceded in death by her mother and father, Elizabeth Bell Gleason and Jack Gleason, of Maryland.
Jane had many animals she dearly loved throughout her life who have also preceded her in death. Her beloved pets in her adult life included dogs Precious, Grendel, Wyle E. Coyote, Louise, Alice, Stridor, Luke “the Sheriff,” and Betsy; cats Lucy, Ethel and Skippy; as well as Richard the fish, Dori the bird, and Smokey the rat. In addition to her many pets, she provided a foster home for many rescued animals as they awaited their forever homes through adoption.
Please join us virtually for a Celebration of Life for Jane Marie Gleason on Saturday, August 1, 2020 at 2:00pm. Click on the join livestream link below under services to join the livestream at the service time (or copy and paste this URL to join: https://meredith.zoom.us/j/96944602834). Copy and paste this URL to view the program and obituary: t.ly/SZUy
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made in her name to one of the organizations that Jane loved and supported: • Friends of Sueños, Antigua, Guatemala (firstname.lastname@example.org, www.suenosgt.org and on Facebook and Instagram as suenosgt) • Best Friends Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah (www.bestfriends.org and on Facebook and Instagram as Best Friends Society) • Safe Haven for Cats, Raleigh, North Carolina (www.safehavenforcats.org) (copy and paste one of the above URLs into your address bar to go to the page to donate or scroll down on this page under donations where there is a hyperlink you can click on to be redirected to that site)
Many have spoken out to describe the positive impact of Jane on their professional and personal lives. Here is just one example of the impact she had on educators around the world, taken from a recent letter she received:
“Dear Jane, in 2017 you visited Antigua, Guatemala. I had the opportunity to listen to your workshop and I still can’t forget your words. You also visited Sueños, and back then we were in a small, borrowed space, but you believed in us. If you remember, you ran with the kids in a game called “You Bring Them” and you were surprised to hear the kids counting in reverse from 20-1. I want to thank God for your life and legacy; you made a huge impact on me, and not only in Sueños. I am a public school teacher and you changed my perspective. I know you do not imagine the scope of your thoughts and ideas but I can guarantee that you have touched many lives, and in Sueños you have been a pillar that allowed me to grow and see many children smile... Feel peace in knowing that you have come to illuminate us and that your light will never be extinguished… Your light will turn on every time in our hearts and minds when we remember your contributions and ideas. Thanks for being an inspiration.”
A Celebration of Life
Saturday, August 1, 2020
Jane Marie Gleason
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
August 12, 2020
Dear Dr. Gleason,
I wanted to thank you for everything that you have done for me. I don’t know if I ever told you, but I consider you to be my family. You showed me kindness and compassion even when I struggled. You took me under your wing and did everything in your power to help me fly. You are the reason I am a teacher, typing this very message while sitting in my classroom. You gave me comfort and guidance when my dog passed away, when my dad was arrested, and when I got my first teaching job. It also meant the world to me that you invited me on your trip to Guatemala, even though I couldn’t go at the time. I will forever cherish my memories with you and will pass down your legacy to every student that walks through my door. After all you are the inventor of the clam claps. To think it all started because I wanted to help organize the math manipulatives.
Thank you again for everything Dr. Gleason
August 3, 2020
Professor Gleason was my professor at Meredith for many of my classes. She helped me to be a better person, and helped me in many different ways to help me pursue my future teacher teaching career. She taught me how to become a successful teacher and how to care and provide for each and every kid. I greatly appreciate the memories we had together and will cherish them forever and ever!
July 31, 2020
I am heartbroken to learn of Jane’s untimely departure from our world. I was shocked when I heard the news and I still am. Jane was a beautiful person who demanded great things from herself as well as all of us, holding herself to the highest of standards as she showed the rest of us how it was done. She communicated her own strong conviction of how important it is to leave the world in better shape than it was when we arrived here, and that conviction, her gentle encouragement, and her certainty that we can make of life what we want from it as long as we give our best, still reminds me how to keep heading toward doing what’s right. Her way was about patience and persistence: with focus, with a little humor, her wry joking and ribbing, sometimes with just a little cajoling, but always with the confidence and certainty one needs to keep heading toward doing what’s right in this life, to do – alone or together – all of those things that need doing. Jane led and taught by example, and she never hesitated to show her love and her confidence in her students, her family, her pets, her friends, and all those who were lucky enough to get to know her. She inspired me by the courage – although she would never have called it that – of her convictions, and she was as much a colleague as she was a dear friend; although we never taught side by side, we had many good conversations together about our experiences as educators. Jane was kind. And funny. And smart. She was a delightful person who remembered little details of what I had told her, thinking about it all in the meantime, even if much time had passed when we picked up our conversation again. I was certainly looking forward to our next chance to talk and catch up; I had thought it might be over fish tacos together with Tom and the girls. I will miss Jane Gleason very much. We were all so fortunate to have had her in our lives.
Mary Catherine Saunders
July 13, 2020
I will always have fond memories of Dr. Gleason during my years in the teaching program at Meredith College! She taught me so much in respect to the math curriculum that I constantly teach my students as well as my own children! May she rest in peace, and her family be comforted by God’s peace during this difficult time.
July 12, 2020
I am deeply saddened by the demise of a beautiful, caring soul- Dr. Gleason. I have known Dr. Gleason for the past 20 years. She was my advisor at Meredith College and many years after I graduated, she continued to support me and became a good friend. I had the unique opportunity to travel with her to Guatemala and work with students in an elementary school. Dr. Gleason was so committed in helping teachers understand students, so that they could become better educators. This is what she messaged me before my second trip to Guatemala, unfortunately, the one she couldn’t make last year, because of her illness. “I have always felt deeply that my purpose in going to work in the schools in Guatemala was more about understanding--developing understanding & compassion for the many children who immigrate to the US from all over the world. So as you embark on this journey, I'd like to ask you to periodically reflect on this question: What have I learned about the people & culture of Guatemala that will help me be a "better," more understanding & compassionate teacher of children who are newcomers to the US?”
Well, I was an immigrant myself, and Dr. Gleason embraced me from day one. She was compassionate, understanding, and always willing to listen. It was difficult adjusting to Meredith College at first, because not only did I come from another country, but I also was a married woman with a 3 year old son and expecting my second baby!! Dr. Gleason’s support and belief in me helped me through, and I became a successful Wake County teacher.
Both of us shared our challenges in technology as we discussed teaching remotely during Covid 19, sitting in her backyard on May 11th.
Her positivity towards life and her beautiful smile will be something I will always cherish. Dr. Gleason will be dearly missed.
July 11, 2020
Dr. Gleason will forever hold a special place in my heart. She was an incredible mentor. I’ve always been quiet in group settings and because of that people always overlook me, but not Dr.Gleason. When I transferred to Meredith I struggled to fit in. It seemed everone had already formed bonds with their professors and had their own group of friends. Dr. Gleason is the person that made me feel the most welcome there. She was genuinely kind. If she ever had a bad day, I never knew it because she was always so positive. She inspired me to be better and to believe in myself. I will always be grateful for the time we had and all the things she taught me. I will miss her so much.
July 11, 2020
I also worked with Jane at Meredith. She was a beautiful, gentle, and vibrant soul. I was lucky to call her a colleague. We have lost someone truly remarkable. I am so sorry for her family. I know she has left you a legacy of wealth and wisdom. We all will miss her!
Pace e bene, Beth
July 11, 2020
I worked with Jane at Meredith, and she was a beautiful person in every way. My condolences to her family.
July 10, 2020
Dr. Gleason made a huge impact on my teaching career and my time at Meredith. She was the first professor who made me really feel like I could aim higher and pursue graduate school. She was patient, observant, passionate, and always kind. She will he missed by all who had the privilege to know her.
July 10, 2020
Dr. Gleason was my professor in numerous classes. She always had a positive attitude. She was a wonderful women and she truly helped me in my journey to becoming an educator.
July 10, 2020
Dear Tom and family,
I am beyond heartbroken to have learned of Jane's passing. She has been a dear friend, and a mentor to me. She influenced my career- and my entire teaching philosophy- in immeasurable ways over the last 20+ years. Our collaboration in our work with Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) in Math has been the highlight of my career- we taught and reflected on those "little people" together, we trained together, and we presented together. We reconnected in the last couple of years, when I returned to the classroom after taking some time off to be home with my own children, and we picked right back up where we left off, making plans to stay connected in our commitment to strengthening and improving Mathematics education in our public schools. I was looking forward to her classroom visits and, as always, her guidance. I will always remember her calming presence, her genuine kindness, and her infinite wisdom. I know she will be deeply missed by all those who loved her, and whose lives she touched- the three of you, her extended family, her beloved pets, her colleagues, and her students. I know Jane has left behind a legacy many of us will work the rest of our own lives and careers to fulfill. She was one in a million. I miss her so much already.
Much love and so many prayers,
Julie Carroll Hughes
July 10, 2020
Dr. Gleason taught my very first education course that I took at Meredith College. She was someone who always encouraged me to follow my dreams and gave me confidence in myself. We kept in touch throughout my time at Meredith and she even wrote me a wonderful recommendation for graduate school at NC State! I will miss her vibrant and positive attitude. Prayers for all of her friends and family.
Genie and George Crawford
July 9, 2020
Dear Tom and family, Brian told us today of Jane’s passing and we are so sad for you all. We only met Jane a few times but were so impressed by her warmth and kindness! There are no words that truly bring adequate comfort but please know that we care and we hurt for you and your daughters. Take care of each other. With love, Genie and George Crawford
July 9, 2020
My heart is with Jane's husband and daughters. She was such a kind, gentle and understanding person. I feel blessed to have had her influence in my life. She strongly encouraged me to give it my all and follow my passion for math pedagogy. She will always be present in my work and interactions with others. I know she's touched other's lives just as much. My condolences.
July 8, 2020
I was so saddened to hear of Jane’s passing. I loved working with her, and always found a gentle, kind greeting when I visited with her. She is a treasure who will be missed.
July 7, 2020
I am so sorry to hear of Jane's passing. I enjoyed working with her over the years at Meredith. She was a great colleague - always so positive and hard working.
With sincere sympathy,
July 7, 2020
So sorry for your loss. Jane was always cheerful, wise and kind. She will be sorely missed.
July 7, 2020
So sorry for your loss. Jane was always funny and always moving to the next project. Always positive and giggled at the AOPi house. Very determined to enjoy each day.
July 6, 2020
I am deeply saddened by this news. Dr. Gleason was my elementary education math professor. I remember the first time I met her. I thought, “this lady is the kindest person I have ever met!” This still holds true to this day! I send my love to her daughters and husband. I am so sorry!