After a long and enjoyable 32 years with WECA, Jane Miller-Cleworth will be retiring in September at the bright age of 88.
“I have had the privilege of knowing Jane for the past 15 years,” said Ruth Schmidt, WECA Executive Director. “Jane has always brought the best balance of consummate professional, committed colleague and absolutely lovely person to her work . WECA greatly appreciates Jane’s years of service to family child care providers and the children they serve. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Jane and wish her all the best in retirement.”
Jane’s child care story began in 1973, when she and her partner Betty Cleworth saw the need for a preschool in their home town of Wisconsin Rapids. Jane attended child care classes at Mid-State Technical College and opened a childcare program in their church basement. “The center was mostly a nursery school with extended hours for childcare.” Jane explained. It was licensed for 25 years and was moved into a home when the church rectory had to be torn down. That group center, named B & J Learning Center, operated for more than 12 years. They sold their group center in 1991, and it still operates today-serving more than 150 children.
In addition to her group center, she and Betty started the Wood County Child Care Council, a support group for child care workers that is still operating today.
In 1987, Jane started her work at WECA. When asked why she decided to work for WECA, her answer was simple. “As far as I was concerned WECA was it!” she shared. “I was already in Child Care but in a different capacity. I enjoy working with people, and I felt my experiences could help others.” As a Food Program area coordinator, Jane served many Wisconsin counties, including Adams, Waushara, Portage and Wood. Her work helped hundreds of family child care providers maintain a healthy and nutritional meal program for kids in their care.
What makes Jane’s history amazing is she accomplished all of this even though at one point she was a single mother of nine children, six of them boys! Now, her children have spread their wings far and wide! “Three settled in Wisconsin and one in Alabama, Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, and Minnesota respectively, with one as far away as Saipan,” she shared. “They work in healthcare, fitness, architecture, engineering, construction, teaching and state government.”
We will greatly miss Jane as she embarks on her new adventures in retirement. “I’m not sure what exactly I plan to do but it definitely will involve volunteer work,” she said. Something tells us she has plenty of places to visit as well.