By Maya Jordan, Fort Meade Public Affairs

Beloved West Meade Early Education Center Principal Retires After 46- Years In Education

The longtime principal of West Meade Early Education Center Carole Janesko, affectionately known as “Ms. Jay”, retired on July 30.

Janesko, admits the timing is right amid changes to e-learning usage, the COVID-19 pandemic and, at the age of 70, she can no longer chase behind small children.

Furthermore, she has spent 19 years in the classroom and 22 years as a principal.

Janesko helped open the doors at West Meade where she spent the past 18 years.

She says she has committed long enough and has seen the school successfully progress.

“It’s time for me to back out and let someone else have [this] wonderful school and community, Janesko said.”

According to Christopher Wooleyhand, Pershing Elementary School principal on Fort Meade, he met Janesko back in the early 1990s.

“She has always been a unique and caring educator,” said Wooleyhand. “In 1999, we were promoted to administration together.  Our paths crossed several times and I am glad that we had the chance to work together on Fort Meade for the past three years.”

At an early age Janesko displayed a passion for teaching.

“As a child I would gather around with my baby dolls and stuffed animals, my chalk board and I would teach them. And I would tear out pages of my mom’s notebooks and put 100% or C+s on everything,” said Janesko.

She recalls babysitting 11 children in her hometown in Pennsylvania with neighbors telling her father she would become a teacher someday.

Janesko’s career has allowed her to work with children at all learning levels, as well as community leaders and parents.

According to Jennifer Plummer, a parent at West Meade, “I met Ms. Janesko in 2017 and then I had the pleasure of serving as Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) president for the 2019-2020 school year and worked closely with her to support the school.

“Ms. Janesko has always stayed true to one solid foundation - the children and their education come first above all else. Her ‘children come first’ approach to running the school is something I admire and appreciate.”

Janesko says she is looking forward to going back to her hometown.

“I’d like to go back to where I started my teaching career at Penn State, reconnecting at the university level for a little bit. But also time to travel and do other things,” said Janesko

Her career has taught her to look at an opportunity as an acorn.

She started her career in elementary, then at Penn State, relocated to Maryland and taught junior high, and was a guidance counselor.

Her advice on what makes a great teacher? “Someone who is excited about kids, takes them where they are, [and] does not judge,” said Janesko. “[Someone] who comes here ready to open all the doors and blossoms for the kids. And someone who is committed to specific age groups and helping kids achieve. You cannot come in with any negativity at all.”

Janesko, has worked with many military connected children during her educator life.

One of her highlights includes taking sixty-three children to the White House to meet then President George Bush during a Christmas tree lighting field trip.

According to Sarah Bonise, Fort Meade school liaison officer, “Carole Janesko was dedicated to the children and their families, teachers, and staff of West Meade Early Childhood Education Center.

“She has been a champion on behalf of all, making sure everyone had everything needed to provide the best possible education for the children.

“She understood what young children needed -- computers and rocking chairs. I enjoyed working with Carole and could always count on her in any situation. I wish her well in her retirement adventure and will miss her.”