Board Chairman Pat Savage-Williams (left) and Superintendent Eric Witherspoon unveil a portrait of Jane Colleton to celebrate 20 years of tenure on the 202 District School Committee. (Photo by Duncan Agnew)
To kick off the latest Evanston Township High School District 202 School Committee meeting Monday night, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and current board members unveiled a portrait of Jane Colleton, who in 2011 became only the third person to serve on the school committee for 20 years. Colleton has lived in Evanston with her husband Don and children for over 50 years and has also worked as an educator and administrator at the Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston.
“Jane’s loyalty to this community and to Evanston Township High School and her students at this school for literally the decades she was here, but also to making decisions for those who would come for generations to come, was never in doubt,” Witherspoon said on Oct. 11 to a crowd of Colleton’s family, friends and former coworkers. “Jane was committed to this school, to the students, to what the school had to be and to the vision of the school, and she was a strong and loyal board member in it.”
Towards the end of her tenure on the board, Colleton pioneered the controversial “distraction” of ETHS students who took Evanston eighth graders’ exams for honorary courses. During the board meeting on Monday evening, Witherspoon praised Colleton for her commitment to racial justice through detracking.
Jane Colleton, who served on the 202 District School Board from 1991 to 2011, speaks after the portrait is revealed. (Photo by Duncan Agnew)
“During my tenure, board members were charged with addressing the learning disparities caused by racism and social injustice,” said Colleton in her remarks after the portrait was revealed. “We did our best to do just that, including by abandoning the school’s curriculum. I am not saying that this was easy or unopposed. I know it was and will be a complex challenge, but we got off to a good start. “
Witherspoon’s impending resignation at the end of this academic year, Colleton also urged board members to consider his personality and leadership skills in finding his successor. His characteristic friendliness and commitment to the advancement of his students should continue to be a high priority in the search for his successor, she said.
“He’s a kind man around the clock,” Colleton said of Witherspoon. “He is polite in every one of his encounters with students, parents, the public and all levels of staff. He has a real, not just purposeful, interest in others. “