Jane Schostag passed away peacefully from cancer on May 6, 2023, at the age of 76. Born on January 3, 1947, in Mankato, MN to Adolph and Margaret (Turnquist) Nordgren, she is survived by her husband, David, her daughter, Lindsay, her son-in-law, Gregg, two grandsons, Jack and Luke Mueller, nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends. She is preceded in death by her parents, brothers Lee and Jon Nordgren, sister-in-law Donna Nordgren, sister Peggy Lowe, brother-in-law Dean Lowe and nephew Mark Lowe.
After graduating from Mankato High in 1965, Jane went on to receive her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English (M.A. 1972) and Educational Leadership (Specialist 1997) from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She taught high school English in Mankato Public Schools for 25 years, serving as Department Chair. Jane also completed the Bush Foundation Educators’ Leadership Program from 1995 to 1997 and served as District Standards Coordinator from 1995 to 2002.
Most important to Jane was giving back to the community and helping children. She and her teams founded and led Project READ, a birth to five community-wide initiative for school readiness. The project was among the first in the state to focus on the first years of life as key to a child’s success. It distributed donated children’s books to at-risk families and promoted the importance of brain development in early childhood. It seeded other similar programs within the state and beyond.
After retirement, Jane continued to serve: First as guardian ad litem advocating for children in child protection cases and as an in-home volunteer for the YWCA’s preschool Ready to Learn program, as an Early Neutral Evaluator, a volunteer at the Reach drop-in center for at-risk youth, a facilitator for the YWCA “Let’s Talk about Race” sessions and a volunteer at ECHO Food Shelf.
Jane was recognized for her work and advocacy through several awards, including: Bush Educators Program (1997), YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (2000), KEYC TV Jefferson Good People Award (2003), Jefferson Award in Washington D.C. (2004), District 77 Spirit of Youth Award (2016) and Mankato West Alumnus Hall of Fame (2018).
Jane enjoyed traveling the world, spending time with friends and family, reading, writing, gardening, boating and her much-beloved cats. She will be remembered for the work she did to make the world a better place and for being a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and a loyal friend to many. In her last year, she enjoyed capturing memories and observations in her memoir In My Life. She was proud of her hometown of Mankato where the community worked together to make things better for children and for all people.
A celebration of Jane’s life will be held Saturday, May 20, 2023 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato – 937 Charles Avenue (507-388-5022) at 11am with a visitation at 10am and lunch following. Zoom info: https://zoom.us/j/99358411229?pwd=eGU2RUNiS0lFNjdyZlFMOVZITEhCdz09
Memorials preferred to: MY Place Youth program, Reach Youth Resource Center, ECHO Food Shelf or the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato. Woodland Hills is helping with arrangements. Special thanks for the loving, compassionate care from her doula Mary Beth Trembley and the Mayo Hospice team.
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