Janzen retires after 42 years at HMHS

Anne Janzen retired last week after 42 years of teaching in Hillsboro.

For Anne Janzen, former Hillsboro Middle High School (HMHS) teacher, her recent retirement doesn’t feel real yet.

“Teachers end in May and then have summer, so I’m expecting August to be my moment of realization,” said Janzen.

Janzen, who taught in the USD 410 District for all 42 years of her teaching career, graduated from Kansas Wesleyan in 1982.

“There were two of us who came and interviewed for the Marion County Special Education Coop (MCSEC). My friend ended up at the Centre School District. And I had my choice between Peabody and Hillsboro when I interviewed. But by the time I got home, they called and said, “We’d like you to be in Hillsboro. And so I started in Hillsboro,” said Janzen.

She started in the old middle school in the basement.

“I started with grades five through twelve. I had about 30 kids on my caseload at the time, and I hand-wrote all the IEPs,” said Janzen.

Janzen started out with a degree in Educationally Mentally Handicapped (EMH), but since most of the kids in her class were identified with a learning disability, the state said she had to get certified in learning disabilities.

“There was only one class difference between getting certified and getting my masters, and that was a statistics class. So it was like, ‘Okay, we’re going to do that’. I got my masters in learning disability,” said Janzen.

Then five or six years later the state decided that she needed to become certified in dealing with kids with emotional disorders since she had kids with emotional disorders in her classroom.

“I got that certification right when the middle school was being built. I became certified in all the areas K-12. But it’s just been an evolution and everything’s evolved and now we do computerized IEPs,” said Janzen. “The caseloads got lower, and I felt like I got to know the kids and the families better with the lower numbers.

For a good portion of her career until the end, Janzen worked with 6th and 7th graders which she enjoyed.

But there were also challenges.

“The hardest part of my career was dealing with kids with the emotional piece because it’s not always tangible. We can’t always see it. And we know that they’re hurting, but we don’t know all the details. They’re not always good at verbalizing why they’re hurting, and they don’t know why they’re mad or upset. They just know that they don’t like what’s happening,” said Janzen. “But we never gave up. That’s the beauty of the Hillsboro system is that I always had the support throughout my whole career. They were our kids. Together we could come up with a plan, figure things out and put together what we thought would be best for them.”

Janzen also struggled with knowing that there were some kids she never reached.

“But I just kept thinking that somewhere along the line there would be an adult that they could connect with and would make a difference in their world. Knowing we have good people here and that at some point they would connect with someone—that was the most important part, that they connect,” said Janzen.

She said her favorite part of teaching was seeing the kids grow up.

“It’s the ones that come back and they’re successful. They’re leading productive lives. They touch base with me, and they tell me what they’ve accomplished. I’ve had several that are just like ‘I know middle school was awful, but look where I am now’. I tell them ‘We always knew that potential was there. We just needed you to believe in yourself’. Getting them to believe in themselves and then when they do—it’s magical. I love the look in their eyes and their faces. The best part is seeing them and knowing that I was a part of that,” said Janzen.

Janzen is quick to point out that none of her work would have been possible without the administration and staff at Hillsboro and MCSEC.

“It took all of those people, all of us working together. I’ve just been blessed to be a part of the staff and have so many good people there to support me. And to encourage me when things were hard,” said Janzen.

Those who worked with her spoke highly of her as well.

“Anne Janzen is an exceptional educator, and she represents what excellence is all about. She had high expectations for every student, she was caring and intentional every day. I learned a lot from her in the two years we worked together and she has had a lasting impact on so many students over the years. I hope she enjoys her well-deserved retirement,” said HMHS Principal Tyler Weinbrenner.

Superintendent Clint Corby added, “Mrs. Janzen is amazing. I am thankful that she has impacted so many students and staff over the years. Her impact on HMHS will be felt for years to come.”

Janzen isn’t exactly sure what is next, but she does plan to spend time with her grandchildren and work on projects such as crafting and quilting.

“I’m taking a deep breath; just seeing where God’s leading this next part of the journey,” said Janzen.


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