In Memory

Janet Schultz (Kahn)

Janet Schultz Kahn Has School Named After Her 

The Board of Ed voted unanimously to rename Eubank Elementary to Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts. 

School Renamed in Honor of Longtime Arts Educator


April 20, 2016

Who was Janet Kahn?

She was a dreamer and a doer; an innovator and an educator; a soft voice and a huge presence.

As much as anything, though, she was an architect and builder. Working without a template, let alone much funding, Janet reconstructed Albuquerque Public Schools’ elementary music and art programs in the mid-1990s from rubble created by years of destructive budget cuts.

“We would not have a Fine Arts program at APS without her vision, leadership and … tenacity,” Associate Superintendent Diane Kerschen said.

The transformation from nothing to something special is being celebrated this month by APS as the elementary school Fine Arts program marks its 20th anniversary. The department and those who teach art and music in the district’s elementary schools was recognized by the Board of Education at a reception immediately preceding Wednesday’s board meeting, and also during the meeting.

During the meeting, the board voted unanimously to rename Eubank Elementary, with its focus on fine arts, to the Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts.

Today, roughly 100 teachers in APS offer the gift of music and art to the district’s youngest students, and the resulting beauty are seen and heard from Los Padillas to Double Eagle. Those hues and echoes can be directly traced to the woman who for 17 years set her professional gyroscope to these words: “Fine Arts are not an add-on program in education – they are central to everything kids learn.”

That Janet was not be in the John Milne Boardroom to be honored with her colleagues is a mean irony: She died on Jan. 15 at the age of 68 after a long and difficult battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Charlie; daughter Jenni; son Zach – and tens of thousands of students who didn’t know her name but were enriched by her life.

Along with her longtime co-pilot and successor, current Fine Arts Instructional Manager Luis Delgado, Janet helped create mileposts that APS students pass every year: Art Is Elementary; the Focus photography exhibit; the Metro Show; Art in the Middle; the Elementary School Honor Choir; A is for Art! That kind of momentum gave rise to a program that now boasts a teacher, Michelle Lemons, as the National Elementary Arts Educator of the Year. And just last week, Albuquerque was recognized as one of the best communities in the nation for music education.

A Highland High School and University of New Mexico graduate, Janet’s intellect and wit were world-class. A conversation with her, friends say, was like speed-reading the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time and the local newspaper – she knew a lot about nearly everything. That kind of spirit held true at work as well: Professional development sessions with the elementary art teachers were virtuoso exercises in team-building – familial but not provincial; easy-going and yet driven. Most everyone had fun, infused with a sense of mission that had been created when there was just Kahn, Delgado and a handful of teachers trying to transform something little into something big.

“She would always tell us, `You are the face of the department and of each other. When you are at a school, it’s not just you, you’re representing all of us,’” said Lemons, who teaches at Barcelona Elementary. “That made us feel like we’re all in this together, and that this was a department, and that we’re all reflective of that department. It made you accountable, but in a respectful way. And yet, it also set an expectation.”

The high expectations were leavened by a humility and humanity that her friends and colleague miss to this day. Her laugh was distinctive and wry; she had an uncanny way of making bad news seem almost palatable. That was never truer than in the days when the gathering storm of her illness drew near. She continued to help out at Fine Arts and volunteer for events like A is for Art!, only occasionally (and reluctantly) referring to her “unexpected circumstances.”

“Janet was just grace,” said Lemons. “In her demeanor, in her language, in her interactions; she just had so much grace. That sums it up: It was grace.”

Who was Janet Kahn? She was the sound and color of Albuquerque Public Schools.

And in a lot of ways, she still is.

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01/19/16 09:03 PM #12    

Pamela Orth (Nelson)


Janet was one of the most genuine and nicest classmates that I had the privilege of knowing during HHS years and beyond. She was always so welcoming at our reunions and a pleasure to spend time with. I always admired her so and am saddened for us all in the event of her passing. She was a great role model and friend to us all and will be sorely missed. 



01/21/16 02:43 PM #13    

Juanita Ader (Nellos)

May Janet"s Memory Be Eternal in God's Kingdom. 

I met Janet at HHS and remember her as a very wonderful and beautiful person, inside and out.  She will be missed.

01/22/16 10:34 PM #14    

Jim Alden

I was deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Janet. She was always one of the friendliest ladies in junior high at Jefferson and at Highland, and beautiful, too. Wasn't aware of her long-term struggle. Happy trails to you, Janet.

01/23/16 11:50 AM #15    

Terry Fitzwater

The good die young.  Janet was one of the good ones.  Happy trails to you till we meet again.  Tery

01/24/16 09:32 PM #16    

Gerald Westcott (H. )

Janet, I was so sorry to hear of your passing. I'll be keeping Charlie and your family in my prayers. Karen and I also shared 46 wonderful married years together until her death November 3, 2014.  Thank you so very much for suggesting an e.a. Job with APS 14 years ago.  It has been very rewarding to me.  I've really enjoyed all the reunion committe meetings we've worked on together.  You will always be in my thpoghts and prayers. Jerry Westcott

01/28/16 10:17 AM #17    

Roberta Katson

I am so saddened to hear of Janet's passing, especially what she went through the last two years. Janet is such a bright spot in my memories of growing up in Albuquerque. We had many good times together. We'll all miss her.  My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

01/29/16 09:40 PM #18    

Susanne Egan (Gunckel)

Both I and my husband who knew and admired her at APS were very saddened by Janet's passing - much too soon.  I am so sorry that I was not well enough to attend the reunion and visit with her one last time.  She will be so missed by many in our community!

02/16/16 06:01 PM #19    

Charlie Lujan

Dear Janet,we have known each other since 7th grade.We had a class together and I remember when you walked into class I saw the most beautiful person and she would put a smile on my face.I was so saddened by your passing.My prayers go out to her family.She had so many  talents.She's going to missed by so many people.She stayed busy all her life.Janet say HI to all our class mates up there.Means I've got to be good to see you again.Rest in peace.

02/28/16 06:34 PM #20    

Barbara Weinstein

Janet's influence will be felt for years to come.  I come back often to the song she shared with us at her memorial.  She indeed left a "hand print on our hearts."  Janet answered the prayer, "may your life be a blessing."




I've heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today

Because I knew you...

Like a comet pulled from orbit

As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder

Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

I have been changed for good



It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me

Like a handprint on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a skybird

In a distant wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you


Because I knew you


I have been changed for good

02/28/16 07:53 PM #21    

Terrell Westcott

I did not know Janet but I am truly impressed with everyone's kind thoughts of her and everything she accomplished in her life. She sounds like she was a fantastic lady and I appreciate everything she did as head of the reunion committee. She will be missed. Terry Westcott

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