Madison-Plains mourns loss of caring leader

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Janice Streit

Madison-Plains Superintendent Janice Streit was a leader who combined a strong will with a loving heart, qualities her family, friends and colleagues will miss.

On Sept. 11, Streit passed away following a courageous battle against cancer. She was 54. She had served as Madison-Plains’ superintendent for one year.

“Janice had a way of making you want to do your best for her. She was a workaholic, that’s for sure, and there was no job she couldn’t do,” said Kathy Anthony, who was secretary at Midway Elementary when Streit was hired in 1995 to serve as principal at both Midway and Madison Rural elementaries.

Streit later served as Madison-Plains’ assistant superintendent from 1997 to 2001, after which she became superintendent at Licking Heights Local Schools. She returned to Madison-Plains as superintendent in August of last year.

“Janice bled green and gold. Madison-Plains was her heart,” said Madison-Plains Middle School teacher Paula Hann. “She was so excited when she came back and so disappointed when she got sick and couldn’t continue.”

Paula and her husband, Dan, struck up a friendship with Streit 18 years ago when they moved to Madison County from southern Ohio. Streit was a teacher at Madison Correctional Institution at the time. As a fellow member of St. Patrick Catholic Church, she encouraged Dan to put his experience as a lay minister to work by conducting services at the prison. With her help, he became the institution’s Catholic chaplain.

“Janice always made time for people. She was very much a people person,” Paula said. “You couldn’t take her anywhere in central or southern Ohio without her running into 50 people she knew.”

Streit’s approachability was one of the traits Rev. Gordon Ell, a recently retired school bus driver, most appreciated about his former co-worker.

“She was firm and fair, and she had a great sense of humor,” said Ell. “Every year at Midway, she would do skits for Right To Read Week, and she would get me and my wife involved. We’d play different characters from stories, and she always seemed to take the part of the villain. She was quite a clown.”

Streit also knew how to take care of the serious business of running a school district, Ell added.

“Janice came in (as superintendent) under very difficult circumstances. The district had been through some tough times. She had almost a healing effect on the district over the last year,” he said.

Trish Passwaters, Madison-Plains’ special education coordinator, attributes that healing effect to Streit’s sense of priority.

“Janice cared about kids. Her first priority was her family, and her second priority was the kids in the school district,” said Passwaters, who first began working with Streit 10 years ago when Streit was assistant superintendent. Passwaters went on to work with Streit at Licking Heights and followed her back to Madison-Plains last year.

“She always had an open-door policy. She would listen to anybody. She was more concerned about other people than herself,” Passwaters said.

Linda Blankenship, president of the Madison-Plains Board of Education, said Streit put the district “back on track.”

“Janice turned the district around to the point where everyone enjoys getting up and coming to work again,” Blankenship said. “Her passing is a great loss to her family and a great loss to the district.”

32 Years as an Educator

Streit grew up in Madison County, graduating from St. Patrick grade school in London in 1967 and from Madison South High School in 1971. Her journey toward a career in education began with an undergraduate degree from Miami University (Ohio). She later earned a masters degree from Wright State University and completed post-masters studies at Wright State, Andrews, Ashland and Ohio State universities.

In her 32 years as an educator, Streit wore many hats, including that of principal at Somerford and Deercreek schools in the London City School District.

She first joined the staff at Madison-Plains in 1995 as a principal at Madison Rural Elementary and Midway Elementary. During her subsequent time as the district’s superintendent, she also served as a curriculum director, grant writer, testing coordinator, transportation supervisor, and continuous improvement coordinator.

Before returning to Madison-Plains in 2006 as superintendent, Streit was superintendent at Licking Heights where she oversaw the construction of three new school buildings.

Family and Services

Streit is survived by her husband, Richard of Mount Sterling, whom she married in 1975; her father, Frances J. Holland of Mount Sterling; daughters, Carrie Streit of Mount Sterling and her fiancé Andrew Fortman, and Rachel (Scott) Davis of Hilliard; sisters, Loretta (Raymond) Anthony of London, and Brenda (Charles) Cook of Springfield; brother, Wayne (Carmen) Holland of London; several nieces and nephews; and many friends.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Thelma (Laibach) Holland, and brother, Edward Holland.

Flags at all Madison-Plains school buildings were flown at half-mast for three days after Streit’s death. No school was held on Sept. 14, the day of Streit’s funeral, which was held at St. Patrick Catholic Church in London.

Memorial donations may be made to the “Janice Streit Scholarship Fund,” c/o Advantage Bank, 2 E. High St., London. The family was served by Rader-Lynch and Dodds Funeral Home, London.

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