Teacher, Nurse, Administrator, Volunteer
Class of 1970
Jan Johnson Benson has been a member of the Sycamore community since she was in 2nd grade after moving here from Dixon, Illinois with her parents and her little brother, Rick. She was enrolled in St. Mary’s School and has been a faithful, contributing member ever since. Jan was very active in school activities and grew up to become the SHS Homecoming Queen her senior year! She graduated from SHS in 1970 and went on to attend Western Illinois University obtaining her BS in Special Education. Jan returned to Sycamore after graduating from WIU and was quickly hired as an elementary teacher at Southeast Elementary School! Always the person to be thankful for the blessings in her life, she wanted to give back to the community that she loved and helping to educate students with special needs was the perfect way to do so!
During this time, Jan married Don Benson, also a life-long resident of Sycamore, and they had three sons – Peter, Joseph and Timothy, all of whom graduated from SHS. This is a true Spartan Family!
Jan continued her education at Northern Illinois University to obtain her Masters in Special Education and her Director of Special Education Certificate. In 2012 Jan was named the Director of Special Education at Sycamore School District and remained in that position until her retirement in June 2015. This position enabled Jan to continue to serve the children of Sycamore. Her colleagues have said, “Jan Benson is a true example of excellence in education, putting children first, and guiding her colleagues with wisdom and compassion to serve the students as they plan together and make a difference.” Another colleague stated, “Jan’s enthusiasm is very student- centered. She maintains a focus on students that prompts those around her to ‘go the extra mile’ for a student’s benefit. She sets the standard for us all.”
Jan loved teaching but she wanted to do more. She went back to school and obtained a Nursing degree with Advanced Pediatric Life Support (PALS) certification from Kishwaukee Community College in 1989 and received their Outstanding Nurse Graduate Award! She worked as a pediatric nurse at Kishwaukee Community Hospital for several years, all while still teaching in the Sycamore School District, volunteering at St. Mary’s Church and raising her family!
Jan has a strong commitment to the Church of St. Mary in Sycamore. She’s been an instructor for Adult Catechism, serves as an extraordinary Minister of Communion (often times serving communion to patients at Kindred Hospital who cannot attend mass due to medical complications), serves on the Hope for Haitians Committee and many more committees too numerous to mention. Her strong faith has helped develop her into the kind-hearted, giving person that she is today.
She’s a volunteer at the Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore, serves on several scholarship committees at Sycamore High School, has served as a Deputy Registrar for DeKalb County Voter Registration, supports the work of the Feed Em Soup organization and the Sycamore Music Boosters organization, volunteers for the Relay for Life group and provides free blood pressure checks to seniors at the Church of St. Mary.
Jan is a perfect example of what Sycamore Schools strives to achieve in the education of our students. She was educated in the Sycamore school system and chose to remain in Sycamore to give back to our children, many of whom have grown to become valuable citizens in the Sycamore community. She will probably never know how many lives she has touched and what a difference she has made to so many. Our community has been truly blessed by the commitment and service of this woman.
Thank you for your service Jan, and congratulations on your induction into the Sycamore High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame!
Mrs. Jan Johnson Benson – 2015 Inductee SHS Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame