Jane Stuart-Andrus, lead teacher at Binghamton University Campus Pre-School and co-founder of RiverRead Books, died on April 5 after a battle with cancer.
Stuart-Andrus received her master’s in education from SUNY New Paltz, where she specialized in teaching young children. She taught at the kindergarten level for 45 years, spending 39 years as a teacher at BU Campus Pre-School. She also held adjunct positions teaching and supervising students at BU.
According to Richard Andrus, Stuart-Andrus’ husband and an associate professor of environmental studies at BU, Stuart-Andrus enjoyed working at BU, as it allowed her and her students opportunities she wouldn’t have anywhere else.
“She believed passionately in early childhood education and stayed at the campus preschool because of her creative freedom there, something she felt she would not have in the better paying public schools,” Andrus wrote in an email. “For example, she was able to take her kids into the wooded areas around the preschool as well as the Nature Preserve, something that would be impossible in public schools.”
Andrus said his wife bonded with all her students and kept up with them over the years.
“She both loved and respected young children and took very seriously her opportunity to work with them,” Andrus wrote. “It was impossible to go out in public and not run into either former parents or students. Somehow she always remembered them and wanted to know how they were doing.”
Andrus said teaching was a passion for her more than anything else.
“Few things made her madder than feeling that she was being treated as a someone simply doing a job,” Andrus wrote.
Peg Smith, executive director of the BU Campus Pre-School, said Stuart-Andrus was a vital part of the school and a wonderful colleague.
“You always [knew] where you stood with her, as well as her thoughts on any given situation,” Smith wrote in an email. “I attended many a meeting where the only person who spoke was Jane, so tactfully sharing her thoughts and those of many people surrounding her.”
Stuart-Andrus also opened RiverRead Books, an independent bookstore in Downtown Binghamton, alongside her friends Connie Barnes and Pat Hutchinson-Bay.
“When several friends of hers talked about starting a book store she saw an opportunity for several things,” Andrus wrote. “She knew she could share her enthusiasm for reading, especially for children’s books. Secondly she saw an opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Binghamton.”
An avid traveler, Stuart-Andrus visited countries including Kenya, Costa Rica, Colombia, Puerto Rico, China and Sri Lanka, as well as every continent except Antarctica.
“Few people could be said to have such an intense love of life and thirst to experience as much of it as possible,” her husband wrote. “She would take any opportunity to travel.”
Stuart-Andrus is survived by her husband; her daughters, Janine Stuart and Alexis Andrus; her stepsons Holt Andrus and Erik Andrus; as well as numerous family members.
A memorial scholarship has been established in her name to benefit BU graduate students studying early childhood education. Donations can be made to the BU Foundation Memorial Account #10351.
Though he said that his wife passed too soon, Andrus said she always tried her best to fill her time in meaningful ways.
“Jane died much too young and has left a big hole in the local community. Right up until she was diagnosed with cancer she was working at both the preschool and the book store,” Andrus wrote. “But in a way she didn’t miss much. What many people put off for retirement she did as she lived each day to the fullest.”