Nearly 50 years into a career in education, Dr. Jane (Emerson) Blystone ’80 isn’t ready to slow down.
The 71-year-old Edinboro alumna is a decorated educator, scholastic journalism advocate, mentor, fabric artist and school board member who has devoted her life to serving others.
“I’m not going to just sit in a rocking chair,” Blystone said jokingly. “Helping people level up and see their potential is the driving force behind what I do. That’s the thing that I love about education.”
After graduating from Corry High School and earning a bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism from Cedarville University, she taught English and journalism for two years at a private school in Indianapolis. There, she also served as advisor of student publications.
Blystone returned to the Erie region and accepted a faculty position in the North East School District, where she taught English and journalism for 29 years. As the student publications advisor for 26 years, she oversaw the student newspaper and yearbook and helped students start a literary magazine.
“It was a great experience because I really taught students to take control of their own publications,” she said. “It wasn’t my publication. It was theirs.”
Recognizing that some of her high school students were struggling with reading and comprehension, Blystone enrolled in a Master of Education in Reading program with reading specialist certification at Edinboro.
“I just fell in love with Edinboro, even though I was a grad student at the time,” Blystone said. “I love the campus. I love the professors. I loved everything that I learned there, and I still use it today.”
She later earned a Ph.D. in rhetoric and linguistics from IUP and a K-12 principal certification in educational leadership from PennWest California.
From August 2008 until May 2016, Blystone was director of Graduate Studies in Secondary Education at Mercyhurst University, where she continues to teach English. She has served as an elected member of the North East School Board since 2009.
Outside the classroom, Blystone has dedicated her time and talents to the Pennsylvania School Press Association (PSPA) and the Journalism Education Association (JEA), which supports free and responsible scholastic journalism. She was JEA Region 7 director from 2009-2014 and currently counsels and encourages mentees around the world as chair of the JEA Mentoring Program.
“I worked with the Scholastic Press Rights committee, and we helped advisors and students across the country whose publications were being censored,” Blystone said. “Last year, I placed more than 100 mentees with mentors. It’s been a great joy to take my skills as an educator and build them up to the next level.”
In 2011, the PSPA named its Student Journalist of the Year Scholarship after Blystone, who has been a vital member of the organization since 1983 and served five terms as president.
“It's been an honor to work with teachers across the state, and, more importantly, it’s been an honor to work with some amazing student journalists,” she said. “Students are the only authentic reporters of what goes on inside American high schools.”
Blystone was recognized for her contributions to scholastic journalism with the Carl Towley Award at the JEA national convention last November in St. Louis.
“I was so floored because I never even thought anything about that award for me. I was pretty overwhelmed by the nomination,” she said. “I think one of the biggest things I learned in Edinboro is that as a teacher, you always have to be two things: You have to be a researcher, and you have to be an advocate for children. I have done that.”