Janee Christensen, Special Education Teacher from UFT died Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Janee was 0.
* Retired teacher
* P23 Lifeline Children’s Center, Queens
Janee Christensen knew how to handle and resolve the “attitudes, moods and physical challenges” of students dealing with emotional issues at P23 Lifeline Children’s Center, Queens, where she worked for nearly 31 years before retiring in 2018.
“Janee had a way of talking students out of moods,” paraprofessional Carol Zervas remembers, first as a para and later as a special education teacher. “The smallest thing would set them off but she had a way of getting in there and talking and listening until the flare-up was resolved.”
Janee, 65, died on April 22.
“She was strict but kind, tiny but not walked over,” said paraprofessional Laura Newman. “She always respected her students and knew how to get difficult students with lots of attitude to toe the line.”
She made math class fun, Zervas said, by using M&M’s as part of counting graphs and then allowing students to eat the candies.
When Janee’s two daughters reached school age, she became a para and began night classes at Queens College to earn her degrees, including a master’s, to become a teacher.
Mike McClain, unit coordinator at the five-site District 75 program that includes the Lifeline center, remembers working with Janee in 1992 when he was a teacher and she was a para. They were assigned to manage recess so it didn’t get chaotic. “She was great at organizing games,” he said, “and worked her tail off.”
For the past 15 years, Janee faced serious health problems that included getting a bone marrow transplant. Her husband described her as “a survivor.”
Through chemotherapy and dialysis three times a week, she never complained. “Even through chemo treatments, she came to school with an upbeat attitude,” said Zervas, who knew Janee for 24 years. “It was heartbreaking but she was never bitter, always positive.”
“On my first day at P23 in 1992, I remember Janee, with her endearing smile, asking if I needed any help and promising to be there if I did,” art teacher Rose Newman recalls. “She will be dearly missed but not forgotten.”
Janee is survived by her husband, William; her daughters, Sharon and Aimee; her granddaughter, Charlotte; and her brothers, Gavin, Brian and Terry.
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