Joanne McPherson, a Perrysburg teacher who eagerly greeted each incoming class of first graders and welcomed new teaching techniques, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. She was 73.
Mrs. McPherson of Perrysburg, who was known as "Jo," had cancer, her husband, Jack, said.
She taught first grade at Woodland Elementary School from its opening in 1979 until her retirement in 2000.
"Every year was exciting to get that new batch of first graders and turn them into readers," said Jan Cellio, a Woodland colleague who also taught first grade. "She was an outstanding teacher. Parents respected her. Kids loved her.
"I don't think there was any place she would rather be than being in a classroom with first graders," Mrs. Cellio said.
Some teachers resisted giving up the familiar when new classroom methods were introduced.
"Jo was not one of them," Mrs. Cellio said.
The first names of the four Woodland first grade teachers began with "J," and the "First Grade J Crew" met regularly to brainstorm. Mrs. McPherson made sure the group's ideas meshed with the prescribed curriculum.
"Coffee never tasted as good as when the J Girls would sit down and talk about what we needed to do for our students," Mrs. Cellio said.
Mrs. McPherson and colleagues shared Woodland's classroom successes at conferences in Columbus, through the International Reading Association.
Some at the school called her "Mama Jo," because "she had great life advice for the younger teachers as they came on," Mrs. Cellio said. "She was a life mentor for many of us, and working with her was a real privilege."
Many former students returned to visit her, and she sent them notes of encouragement as they headed for college.
"She loved kids and loved watching them grow," her son, Jon, said.
She also taught for about 20 years in the summertime Safety Town program for the school's youngest students.
For about eight years in retirement she worked for the former Nanna's Bookstore in Perrysburg.
She was born June 8, 1939, in Hicksville, Ohio, to Frances and LeRoy Monroe. The family later moved to Tiffin and Bowling Green. She was a 1957 graduate of Bowling Green High School. She received a bachelor of science degree in education from Bowling Green State University, where she was an elementary education major. She received a master's degree in 1985 from BGSU.
She started teaching at a Perrysburg preschool when the youngest of her four sons, Joel, was 3. He attended that school.
She later taught kindergarten at Toth Elementary School in Perrysburg.
She was a member of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dowling, Ohio.
She taught Sunday school there and was on the educational committee.
She and her husband liked to take cruises, and they had traveled the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, and to Hawaii and Alaska.
She was a fan of the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, but especially Ohio State University sports.
Surviving are her husband, John "Jack" McPherson, whom she married June 6, 1959; sons, Jeff, Jay, Jon, and Joel McPherson; brother, David Monroe; nine grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.
The family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Sunday in the Marsh Funeral Home, Luckey, Ohio. Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church on Carter Road in Dowling, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the church building fund or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.