Please join us virtually for a Celebration of Life 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.

Jane Marie Gleason

November 22, 1949July 4, 2020
Obituary of Jane Marie Gleason
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 (info@suenosgt.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.”

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Saturday, August 01, 2020

A Celebration of Life