An honor for dedication

I was third-grader at Anthony Seeger Campus School, fresh off a miserable second grade year at another local school where I had enrolled late after moving to Harrisonburg. I was lonely, bullied and miserable. It was a long, long school year. But the next fall a spot had opened up at what  everyone called “The Campus School,” an elementary school on the campus of Madison College.

From my first day in the low-slung building across from the Quad, this school felt different, friendlier. I would learn many years later that friendliness is endemic at Madison. But I digress….

Still feeling a little lost at first, l managed to muster a tiny kernal of courage. Unlike my new classmates, I already knew cursive writing. With that small advantage, I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. My teacher Mrs. Ann Reeke, a vivacious woman with copper colored hair and the kindest of brown eyes, noticed. In fact, after I wrote a play, The Day of the Ringtailed Rat, she sent me to the cafeteria with a Madison student teacher named Mary Settle. ‘Miss Settle’ and I polished my play, and to my utter delight, my class performed it, replete with an auditorium full of ASCS students and parents and a mimeographed playbill listing me as the playwright.

That experience was transformational. That year I decided to be a writer, and Mrs. Reeke is the teacher who encouraged me. She was my super teacher.

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

Recently, the Virginia Lottery announced the results of a search for Virginia’s best teachers. Of the eight selected across the commonwealth, two are graduates of JMU’s College of Education — not surprising, given Madison’s long history of commitment to teaching.

Margo Jantzi (’01M), a librarian at Cub Run Elementary School in McGaheysville, Va.,, is one. In May, she was named a “2012 Super Teacher.” The real winners, though, are the students whose lives she touches. In an essay nominating Margo for the award, Cub Run’s PTA President Rebecca Poma (’97M) wrote about Margo’s over-the-top efforts to engage students in learning. During a period of significant change for many of the students, Margo played a significant role.

“Our community formed through redistricting — a difficult process that pulls neighborhoods apart — four years ago,” wrote Rebecca. “The first teacher to be announced after the principal was Mrs. Jantzi, a former challenge teacher in our county, who wasted no time fostering the feeling of community in our new school.  She immediately joined the newly formed PTA and went to work connecting parents with the school.  She raised funds so that our library was nearly complete upon opening and continues to receive grants and other funding to keep our library … up to date with the latest technology and instruction.”

Margo’s impact is far-reaching. Rebecca noted that Margo hosts book clubs, sponsors a summer reading program, integrates art and helps students develop leadership skills. “Mrs. Jantzi is all about people and connections,” Rebecca wrote.

The panel of judges agreed and chose Margo Jantzi as a 2012 Super Teacher, an honor reflecting a dedication that is changing the lives of her students. For many, she is their ‘Mrs. Reeke’.

Who is your super teacher, the one who changed your life? Let us know…

Coming Monday:  JMU’s other 2012 Virginia Super Teacher.

You can learn more about Virginia’s super teachers, read the essays supporting their nominations and see videos of their award presentations at

You can also explore the College of Education online at


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to An honor for dedication

  1. Shell Hite says:

    THANK GOD for Mrs. Reeke! She helped nurture the wonderful writer and gal we know. AWESOME tribute Martha!! …
    My super teachers were Miss Ringgold, Mrs. Ralston, Mr. Lasher, Coach Peduto, Coach Young, Prof. Paul Cline, Prof. Roger Soensken, Prof. Tony Eksterowicz, Coach Sheila Moorman. … and also the best Sunday School teacher on the planet. I miss you Nellie Gregory! TEACHERS RULE! \,,/ \,,/


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