Jane Hartquist started teaching Latin at Sidwell Friends in the fall of 1968. Her devotion to teaching, her generous spirit, her thoughtful approach to problem-solving, her commitment to the values of Quakerism, and her sense of fun were quiet gifts to her students and the adults with whom she worked. She primarily taught seventh and eighth graders in Middle School but also sixth graders and students in Upper School. During her long tenure at the School, Jane held significant positions outside of the classroom. She was the Middle School Diversity Coordinator back in the era of the 1989 Board of Trustee’s Diversity Report, the Language Department Chair, and the Clerk of the Faculty Development Committee.
Jane’s travels enriched the Latin curriculum as she explored Roman culture in its many forms. For Jane Latin was not a “dead” language and she shared her experiences and enthusiasm with her students. To conclude the year she had a Latin Day when her students watched either Ben Hur or Spartacus and feasted on Mediterranean food. She was excellent at teaching organization of language notes, and she comfortably converted from spiral notebooks and papers in binders to electronic notebooks and Drop- box. Her students sat for the National Latin exam every year and routinely received gold, silver and bronze medals for their scores. Some of her students have had perfect scores, as one girl did this year.
Latin was not her only focus. She taught math to sixth graders for several years, using the School Mathematics Project books from Cambridge University, which had a large focus on hands-on manipulatives. She also taught eighth grade algebra for a few years and would complete all of the problems she had assigned her students.
Jane also contributed to life in Middle School beyond the classroom. In the fall of 1984 Jane joined Sally Selby, Lonnie Edmonson and me as an advisor on Team 4. Fall and spring camping trips were a huge part of the Team experience. We took our students to Camp Pecometh, where the students slept in cabins and we slept in an old house that was the camp infirmary. We had complete access to the camp’s kitchen, and Jane not only cooked meals with the kids, but she would buy fruit and berries from local farmers and bake, too. We canoed on the Chester River, played group games on the open fields, and watched movies in the basement of the administration building during a tornado warning. We woke up in predawn hours when kids wanted to see the sun rise. One evening on a later trip back at Camp Pecometh, Jane and I decided to walk down to the waterfront to check out the old house on the property. We were recounting the spooky stories that the son of the camp director had told our kids on previous trips, and we scared ourselves silly when we saw a light flickering on and off in the house! Once I was asked by a principal to choose between keeping a big room and staying on a team with Jane. I chose Jane!
Out Tuesdays were also big parts of the life in Middle School. It was here that Jane’s commitment to Quaker values was most evident. Over the years she took students to the South African Embassy for a silent protest against apartheid and visited churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues for comparative religion lessons. Her service day projects focused at different times on programs for children, hunger, and HIV/AIDS. Along with routine service days, Jane took kids on Quaker Work Camps, which meant going out on the vans from Martha’s Table in the evening to feed the homeless in DC, sleeping on the floor at the Florida Avenue Meeting House, waking up early the next morning to serve breakfast at S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) and Miriam’s Kitchen, and then back to school for classes!
Exposing students to new experiences was one of Jane’s goals. She took students on trips to the Smithsonian museums and art galleries, the National Zoo, Annapolis, Harper’s Ferry, and Baltimore. She paddled boats on the Tidal Basin and did ‘Math on the Mall.’ Jane traveled with students to Italy and Costa Rica during Minimester and in the summer. For two years Jane and I did a local Minimester called “What’s New in the News?” We took students to the Newseum, the Washington Post, NBC4 news studio, and local radio stations.
Jane’s generosity could always be counted on and she enjoyed socializing outside of school. She hosted many faculty parties and potluck dinners at her home, one of which was a baby shower for me and the baby girl who Jane later taught. She was a regular at ‘News of the Week in Review’ after school on Fridays at Charlie’s for happy hour. In an early version of ‘Faculty Follies,’ which were wacky presentations by the faculty that could have been called ‘Saturday Night Live for the Students,’ Jane played TV’s Murphy Brown and told ‘Vice President Dan Quail’ that “I knew John F. Kennedy, and you are no John F. Kennedy!” She led faculty members in Jazzercise-like exercises after school. Outside of school she played in a women’s soccer league until she broke her arm and leg in a game, but she continues to play tennis with a group of women on a regular basis.
Little known facts: One of her classrooms had been the MS dark room; she took pictures for the yearbook and the 8th grade slideshow; and observant students say Jane never wore the same outfit twice in one school year! She made hot tea for the students on cold days. She has taught parents, aunts and uncles of her current students.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Jane grew up on their apple farm near a small town on Lake Ontario. Her parents were Laura and Ray Kusse. Her mother was a teacher who started her career in a one-room schoolhouse. Jane went to school in the town of Williamson from elementary through high school. She told me quintessential stories from her childhood, such as competing with friends to see how far they could walk on crunchy snow before breaking through the top, running the long way to her ‘next-door’ neighbor’s house to avoid the mean geese in the nearest orchard, and having her Aunt Nelly living across the lane. Jane still owns the family farm with her older brother, Bruce, and visits there every summer. She received her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College and her Master’s degree at Brown. Before moving to the DC area, Jane taught in Los Angeles at Marlborough School, an all-girls Catholic school, and Harvard-Westlake Schools. In her retirement Jane will be able to spend time with her daughter Laura Jane (’89), her son Cory (‘92) who are both SFS ‘lifers,’ and her granddaughters Sydney and Finley who call Jane ‘Grammy.’
After 47 years as a Latin teacher at Sidwell Friends School, no one more deserves to be honored as Faculty Emeritus than Jane Hartquist!