A Tribute to Ms. J:
As a very focused 15-year-old dancer, I was way out of my element in a public school that weighed your social status in soccer cleats and cheerleader skirts. So, in the fall of 1987, I transferred to The Pingree School. I discovered a school that thrived on the arts, supported a dance concert each year, and the Mary Weld Arts Center had just opened that prior spring. When I toured the school and found a family bowling alley turned into a dance studio, I knew I had found my new home. Little did I know that my new home included a teacher, an advisor, and a friend named June Jeswald. I rearranged my school schedule so I could cram in a dance class. I was so determined to make it work that I added French I to a schedule that already included Spanish III just so I could dance with Ms. J during F period.
I spent so many days lounging on the studio floor stretching and gossiping with my favorite teacher who became my mentor in my Pingree days. She always took my concerns seriously and gave me great advice whether it was about the level of difficulty in AP Euro History or what do when I found myself with two dates to the senior prom during my junior year. (True Story!) She is the reason my dad had a huge clothing bill from the school store each month as I purchased countless socks, sweatpants, and t-shirts to keep me warm in the cold basement studio. And she fostered my continuing love for the Alvin Ailey Dance Company by trudging all of us into the city one weekend a year just because she wanted to share the joy of dance.
Through boyfriends, winter musicals, dance concerts, academic concerns, and college choices, there was always someone there for me: Ms. June Jeswald.
When she came to the West Coast for an alumni dinner in the fall of 2009. It was as if no time had passed. She looked exactly the same as she did in 1987 when I walked through that dance studio door…smiling, happy, and ready with a hug. The only difference is that now we could share that time over a glass of wine.
So, Ms. J., as you go off to enjoy your retirement, I want you to know the impact you had on my life, not just during my time at Pingree. You are one of the reasons my time there was so special and why I look back on my high school years so fondly. They were some of the best days of my life. On January 25th, 1988, you wrote on my 1st semester report card, “a joy to teach”. Well, Ms. J, it was a joy to learn from you.
Class of 1990