Mary Jean (Murdock) Jeanae came to Graceland as a freshman from Goldendale, Washington, in September 1961. She majored in elementary education, graduating in the Spring of 1965. Jeanae went to Independence, Missouri, to teach before earning her master’s in Elementary Reading from the University of Missouri. She graduated as a remedial reading specialist and taught in the St. Louis area for several years.
Jeanae was lured back to Graceland to teach reading in the elementary school major by the department chair of education, Dr. Mary Beth Evans. Jeanae knew teaching college meant the agreement to go back to college for a doctor’s degree; she graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Doctorate in Elementary Reading.
When Evans decided to retire from Graceland, Jeanae continued to bring growth to the education program after assuming the role of department chair in 1990. At that time, national accreditation of education programs was becoming a “must” if a school of higher education wanted their graduates to compete in the national job market, so Jeanae started Graceland’s education faculty on the long and tedious process of national teacher accreditation through NCATE (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education) now known as CAEP (Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation).
When hiring new faculty, Jeanae became known for not mentioning the national accreditation endeavor until after they were hired. Then she would show up in their offices, starting the conversation about what extra job she had in mind for them with the words, “Oh, by the way….” It became such a landmark for Jeanae that during her retirement celebration, the education faculty all wore t-shirts with her picture and the phrase, “Ohhh! By the way…” She was so determined that Graceland would be recognized by NCATE as a superior education program that she even took a sabbatical to go to Washington, DC, and spend time at the national headquarters, learning how to pass all the standards. Jeanae passed away on November 12, 2021; her contributions to the Graceland community will be treasured for years to come.
Special thanks to Graceland Trustee Nancy Tanner Edwards for her contribution to this memorial.