Janet Hamilton (submitted photo)
Janet Hamilton (submitted photo)
Saturday March 30, 2013

JAMAICA -- Good teachers can make a difference to the students they teach as well as the community they teach in, and Janet Hamilton is no exception.

As a former teacher and principal of Jamaica Village School, she was recently honored by the Vermont House of Representatives, in recognition of her noteworthy work at the school.

"She was definitely a valued teacher," said Jamaica Village School Principal Laura Hazard. "She was definitely a dedicated professional in every sense of the word. She was a thoughtful colleague, always recognizing others' accomplishments."

Honored by the General Assembly, Hamilton received the resolution at Town Meeting in Jamaica. Rep. Tim Goodwin, I-Weston, who represents constituents in Windham, Windsor and Bennington Counties, presented her with it.

"I was totally surprised," said Hamilton. "He read it aloud in front of everyone and gave it to me."

State Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, said that these resolutions are "intended as a tribute ... an appreciation of extraordinary service."

"We know what's going on in our communities," said Galbraith. "Sometimes exceptional public service is brought to our attention and we like to honor it. It's a measure of our appreciation."

Hamilton retired last June but still continues to substitute teach when called upon.

In 1972, Hamilton came to Jamaica, where "she applied for a teaching job for which she was overqualified," according to the resolution document. The committee that interviewed her for a teaching position at Jamaica Village School hoped that she would take the job and she did.

The following year, Hamilton became a Title 1 instructor and also taught kindergarten at the Jamaica Masonic Hall.

"Because she's been such an integral part of our school community, the children, I think both young and old, love her," said Hazard. "And we're fortunate because she still comes as a substitute. She's well-respected."

In the past seven years of Hazard being the principal at Jamaica Village School, Hamilton has taught first and second grade classes.

While raising her two children, Hamilton "limited her duties to substituting ... and was involved in many community organizations, including her church, the Eastern Star, the Jamaica Memorial Library and the local recreation committee," according to the resolution.

In 1987, Hamilton resumed her career as a full-time teacher. She was appointed principal from 1991 to 1994, then went back to the classrooms and taught every grade from kindergarten to sixth grade.

"It's a lot more fun being in the classroom than being a principal," said Hamilton.

She is still an active member of the School Club, which is an organization that fundraises for activities and events within the school. Hamilton still attends Jamaica School Board meetings regularly even though she is no longer on the board.

"As a teacher and now as a member of the public, she is still very, very involved in our school, which is wonderful," said Hazard.

Every Memorial Day, Hamilton would take her students to the Jamaica Village Cemetery, where they placed flags on graves. Every February, she presented an "Americanism" program.

The 2012 Town Report for Jamaica had been dedicated to Hamilton.

"I was involved with education for 40 years and it's not something you just forget about," said Hamilton. "I enjoyed working with the students and that's why I do it."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.