The commemoration on Oct. 11 of Jane Colleton’s 20 years of service on the Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board began with a reception in the school’s main lobby.
The event was a festive lead-up to the unveiling of Colleton’s portrait at the ETHS board meeting that followed. More than 50 current and former colleagues, family members and friends joined Colleton in celebrating the special honor, bestowed on Board members who serve for more than 20 years. Among the special guests at the reception and unveiling was portrait artist Ann Ponce, who said she got to know Colleton last February when she was chosen to do the painting. The introduction was made by Portraits Chicago Inc. founder Kathleen Van Ella, who handled the business details of the commission on behalf of ETHS.
Ponce, who is classically trained in art, has been painting and teaching art since 1976.
“We had several meetings together. I got a feel for Jane’s personality, the things that she loves, and some of her accomplishments, which just floored me – they’re so amazing,” said Ponce in her remarks at the unveiling.
ETHS Board President Pat Savage-Williams and Superintendent Eric Witherspoon pulled the cords to remove the covering and bring the painting into view.
The artist drew laughter from the crowd when said she met Colleton’s husband, Don, and learned about their family and grandchildren “all under a mask, which is a very weird thing when you’re trying to do somebody’s portrait.”
Among the places that Colleton loves, said Ponce, is a small ballet studio where she studies at least three mornings each week. Another of Colleton’s passions is natural environments.
“The few times I’ve been with her, she just can’t stop talking about trees and plants. So, I thought, maybe I’ll make a green background. And the green background sort of developed into some leaves, and there you have it,” said Ponce.
Dr. Witherspoon, in his remarks, hailed Colleton as one of seven board members who made the monumental decision to start “de-tracking and making this an equitable school…
“I have no doubt that… her votes were principled, well thought, and when needed, courageous decisions,” said Dr. Witherspoon.
In her remarks, Colleton gave special thanks to “Anne Ponce, a remarkable portrait artist,” and all those who attended the event, including her family, friends, fellow dancers, UNITY Scholarship Committee members, friends from Saint Mary and St. Nicholas churches, and members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
She also thanked past board members with whom she served from 1991 to 2011, current board members “for squeezing this event into a busy agenda,” ETHS staff who arranged the event, and Dr. Witherspoon, who she said “helped facilitate real progress” when the board tackled de-tracking of ETHS students to address disparities in learning.
Colleton’s portrait joins that of Dan Phillips and Margaret Lurie on the wall of the board room.