Janice Andrews


OHS Class of 1939

Hundreds of students who attended Junior High at Olathe Elementary feel they owe a debt of gratitude to long-time English teacher, Mrs. Janice Andrews. Born and educated in Olathe, she started her teaching career in the Montrose School District in 1941, retiring in 1976.

Andrews was the second daughter born to Mittie and Lester Stevens. Education was an important element in their home, since her father was a teacher and school principal.

Following graduation from Olathe High as class valedictorian  in 1939, Janice attended Western State College in Gunnison, receiving a teaching degree in two years. By attending summer school, she graduated in 1944. Her teaching career began in 1941 at the little two-room country school of Highland on Ash Mesa, earning $80 a month for nine months.

“We weren’t just teachers. In those years we had to keep stoves banked in both the school rooms and our home (the school teacherage)”, says Andrews. “We hauled water and did the janitor work. We cooked on a coal range and I didn’t even know how to cook…Of course there was no bathroom.”

Her teaching methods were very effective. “When I taught, the first thing I did every morning was go through the same drill. I would ask, ‘What is a noun?’ and go through every part of speech and the definitions of each one. Then we would have drills on punctuation.”

The summer of 1945, Janice attended a church lawn picnic where she met Wayne Andrews who was home on furlough from the US Air Corps after completing 18 missions over Germany. The romance began. They were married October 14, 1944, three days after his discharge.

In August, 1946, they welcomed a baby girl, Diana Gayle. Thirteen years later, 1959, their son, Gary Douglas, was born. Above all, Andrews’ family is her main pride and joy. Both Gayle and Doug continued the family tradition of teaching. Gayle, who is the mother of two sons, Jace and Dirk, is now retired. She spoke of her mother’s successful mode of teaching, saying, “She took it out of the abstract into the concrete, using visuals such as diagramming and a lot of hands-on.”  Doug, who started his career at Columbine Middle School here in Montrose, is now a principal in Littleton, Colorado. Janice’s step-son, Robert Andrews, is a retired attorney living in Wrightwood, CA.

When the National Jr. Honor Society was chartered in Olathe in 1960, it was named the Janice Andrews Chapter. In 1974, the RE1J Board of Education presented the first incentive pay awards to five teachers, Janice being one of them. In 1979, the Olathe American Legion presented Andrews with a trophy for 35 years of dedicated service.

Andrews was a teacher who was fully dedicated and knew how to reach her students, gaining respect by showing respect–one who made a difference for several generations.