MONROVIA, CA – Monrovia High School alumni, teachers and administrators shared memories as they leafed through yearbooks, photos, and paintings of long-time English teacher Frank Jansson during an Oct. 26 dedication of the school’s library in his honor.
Jansson – who passed away in 2003 – instilled in his students the importance of literacy. The dedication marked the 15th anniversary of his passing.
Jansson joined Monrovia High in 1958 and taught there until 1995, returning in 1997 after retirement, to teach part time for six more years. His students and colleagues remembered him for his infectious personality and passion for teaching.
“The dedication of this library is another way in which we acknowledge the contribution of educators who truly have made a difference in the lives of our students,” Board President Terrence Williams said. “This year, Monrovia High is celebrating its 125th anniversary, and the Board has taken steps to honor our rich legacy and tradition of excellence in education.”
Several of Jansson’s former students became teachers because they were inspired by his passion for his students and his career.
English teacher Randy Bell, a class of 1981 graduate, said that dedicating the library in honor of Jansson was fitting because it was where he lived for decades.
“He was our best teacher, our hardest teacher, and our scariest teacher. He was our scariest teacher – and this leads me to what I loved most about him – because there was no escaping him if you were in his class,” Bell said.
“He tapped into every student in his class and, as teachers, if our most important job is to pull kids out of their shell and develop them out – Frank was the golden one.”
In addition to teaching English, Jansson was the yearbook adviser and took students and colleagues on summer trips to Europe for years. Many of the alumni in attendance traveled with Jansson on these adventures.
Jansson kept in touch with former students over the years, sending holiday cards, writing letters, and attending high school reunions.
“I came to Monrovia High in 1985 and Frank become a mentor to me and then, 20 years later, I realized he was also my best friend,” said Eric Miller, Monrovia High School English teacher and yearbook adviser. “He affected not only his students, but also his colleagues and just about everyone he encountered.”
Toward the end of the celebration, everyone gathered outside of the library for the unveiling of the Frank Jansson Library.
“It is our hope that the young adults who come through these doors find that same love and joy of books that Frank Jansson awakened within his students,” Superintendent Katherine Thorossian said. “Thank you to our Board of Education for making this dedication a possibility, to our alumni who made it out, and those who sent letters in.”
10-26-18_MUSD_Jansson1: Monrovia High School Associate Student Body students, Principal Kirk McGinnis (left) and English teacher Eric Miller (right) stand in front of the Frank Jansson Library, which was dedicated on Oct. 26.
10-26-18_MUSD_Jansson2: Monrovia Unified Board of Education member Chris Rich, President Terrence Williams and Board Clerk Rob Hammond celebrate during the dedication of the Frank Jansson Library on Oct. 26.
10-26-18_MUSD_Jansson3: Monrovia Unified alumni, administrators, teachers and students stand in front on the Frank Jansson Library at Monrovia High School. Alumni flew in from as far away as Texas and New York to celebrate a dedication of the library to former English teacher Frank Jansson on Oct. 26.