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In Memoriam: Janet Lorenz

With a heavy heart and tremendous gratitude, we bid farewell to our dear friend and colleague, Janet Lorenz. Janet began her Wilson® career as an In-District Trainer for Elmbrook School District in WisconsinAfter becoming a Literacy Specialist, she worked for 11 years with various school districts across the country, supporting teachers and advocating for children. With an unwavering passion for literacy, Janet was highly regarded everywhere she mentored.

Janet started teaching at Rowley Elementary School located in a suburb of New Orleans. However, the majority of her career—26 years of it—was spent at Elmbrook. Here she served as a program support teacher and diagnostician, and one of her many accomplishments was organizing the preschool screening program. During this time, she became a credentialed In-District Wilson Trainer. Janet’s retirement from her work at the district was the start of a new chapter—as a Literacy Specialist. This endeavor took her to many U.S. towns and cities where she trained fellow educators on the use of Wilson programs.  

When she wasn’t helping struggling readers, Janet enjoyed spending time with her son Brandon, his wife Valerie, and her two beloved grandsons, James and Oscar. A sports fan, she rooted for the Green Bay Packers and was proud to be a certified Cheesehead®. Traveling was another pastime and she impressively visited 47 states, with Disney World being a favorite destination. But no matter where she went, Janet spread joy with her exuberant personality.  

Those closest to Janet will remember her knack for planning special holidays, vacations, garden parties, and other festive occasions. A fun-loving coworker, Janet often organized spur-of-the-moment tours whenever groups of Wilson Trainers and Literacy Specialists converged in the same place. She even arranged for the Owlettes, a Wilson singing group, to perform at the most recent Trainer Meeting in Portsmouth, NH.  

Most recently, Janet contributed greatly to the creation of the FUN HUB™ for Fundations teachers to help students remotely during the pandemic. You can see her shining light in the videos she produced for this purpose on our Fundations Level 1 FUN HUB. 

“Janet was a very bright light,” says Kim Gillingham, Senior Director of Professional Learning/Field Implementation. “She saw the humor in situations and people loved being around her. At Wilson, she was a superstar. Her work was always on point and her knowledge about Wilson programs, teaching, and dyslexia was deep. She was great to work with in the field—whether she was providing a laugh or boosting morale. This was especially true when she brought gifts to her co-presenters that often had to do with owls. Janet was known for her singing and sparkly glasses as much as she was known as a brilliant, beautiful colleague and friend.” 

These moving sentiments are echoed by Barbara Wilson, author and Wilson co-founder 

“Janet was a skilled educator who was dedicated to literacy and advocacy. A member of the Wilson team, her impact will always be felt. We find comfort knowing that generations of students and teachers will continue to benefit from her passion and knowledge. There is no doubt Janet made a difference and leaves an important legacy as a teacher, coach, and friend.”