TERAJI: Teacher is in class of her own

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Janice and husband Charles Krahenbuhl have been married for 54

The thing that stands out immediately about Janice Krahenbuhl is
the absolute delight she takes in being an elementary school
teacher. Her enthusiasm for her students makes teaching look
effortless.
The thing that stands out immediately about Janice Krahenbuhl is the absolute delight she takes in being an elementary school teacher. Her enthusiasm for her students makes teaching look effortless.

“I do find a big thrill in teaching. There are some people in the school district who think I’ve been around long enough,” said the teacher in her mid-70s. “This is my 47th school year in the classroom. I’ve had doctors say, ‘Where do you get your energy?’ Well, if you’ve ever been in a room with 20 third graders,” she laughs, “They are pretty energizing.”

A full-time teacher for more than 40 years, her idea of retirement is substituting every day.

Krahenbuhl has always encouraged by teachers who introduced students to fantasy, fiction and the real world.

“Since I was a very young child, I have known that education was the key to a richer, fuller life. I owe a debt I can never repay. My teachers led me to the concept that I could control much of my destiny through education.”

Years ago, Krahenbuhl used to regularly take her Rucker third graders to San Jose’s History Park at Kelley Park. It was expensive and time-consuming. 

One day as she looked around, she thought, “Why are we here? We have all of this live, up close and personal in our own town.”

From then on, she took her students on spring field trips throughout Downtown Gilroy and on First Street, including visits to The Music Academy of Gilroy, The Gilroy Museum, the library and other establishments.

“Each trip was very serendipitous as we were greeted merrily and generously,” Krahenbuhl said.

Former students recognize Krahenbuhl and come up to thank her wherever she goes.

Krahenbuhl is known for the way she has brought history to life in so many creative ways, from having students act out the true life stories of the Pilgrims and Native Americans at the first Thanksgiving to having historical characters brought to life by a local residents.

Local educational philanthropist Dale Connell’s grandson, Kevin, invited him to class for a presentation in which Connell told his tales about living on the South Dakota plains more than 85 years ago when he was the same age as the third graders.

Krahenbuhl also brings a great sense of her own personal history to her craft through her own American roots. She was born two weeks before her father turned 49 years old, and he in turn was born when his own father was 51. That put a 100-year difference to the week between her and her grandfather, which created a circumstance quite rare for someone Krahenbuhl’s age: her own grandfather was a Civil War soldier who fought in the Illinois 77th infantry.

She comes from a long line of teachers – a fact spotted when her high school Latin teacher noticed her natural talent for explaining things.

“There are people who come to teaching with all the right credentials, yet they are a disaster when it comes to the reality of being in the trenches,” Krahenbuhl observes. “The best teachers are people who have a natural gift for teaching. They bring joy and fun to their classrooms.”  

Teachers from all the elementary schools in Gilroy request Krahenbuhl to substitute for them because she puts all of her energy into the students and provides them with first rate education each and every time she enters the classroom.

“I cannot fix education,” she says, “I do not have any answers. But in my classroom, children do not know about the crisis in education. They have a safe place where they are encouraged to be creative and confident learners.” 

Day in and day out teachers like Mrs. Krahenbuhl bring a wealth of experience and wisdom into their students’ lives whose value is impossible to measure.

Krahenbuhl deserves our highest honor and recognition for the outstanding job she has done of educating the children of our community for almost five decades.

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