Depending on the day, Jan Wagner can be a mother of two or two hundred.
The hustle and bustle of a school day can reach a fever pitch, but seconds before the clock reaches 3:21 pm, a brief lull descends over Marquette as her voice emanates through the school’s PA system.
“Okay, a couple of announcements today, guys. Prom tickets will go on sale starting Thursday. Tomorrow is a Mass day. Formal uniform required. Don’t forget - we’re still collecting items for Dunebrook. Please see Mrs. Beeler. Good luck to softball and boys golf today. Have a great night everybody. Oh, and Bob Johnson to the office!”
If you’ve ever made contact with Marquette High School, you’ve either heard Jan’s voice or seen her face. She’s the gatekeeper. She’s a sounding board. And if helping manage, organize, and inform 200 students and 24 teachers weren’t enough, Jan Wagner works full-time alongside her two daughters, Tracy Wagner and Angie Williams.
A 1974 alumna of Marquette, Jan Wagner presides over the main office.
“The three of us touch upon the school in very different ways. Angie (French teacher) delivers instruction, Mom (Jan) is the hub of the school, and I provide academic and emotional support for students,” academic affairs assistant Tracy Wagner said.
The maternal instinct is a hidden-in-plain-sight resource for Marquette students. A small-school atmosphere requires the adults in the building to be there for students outside the school day and week. In many ways, Tracy and Angie are extensions of their mother. Any sibling rivalry is set aside for the greater good of the family, a lesson ingrained at a young age.
“The entire family all helps out. That’s a perspective we got from both sides of our family. We want to take care of each other. You just always want to be helping,” Angie said.
Angie, a mother of two sons (Carter and Everett), notices the inevitable change brought about by generational churn.
“It’s a totally different perspective once you have your kids. The financial support, the emotional support, the time. It’s a lot. ” she remarked.
“As I’ve been able to see with my nephews, there’s a fresh appreciation with the sacrifices in terms of coverage of daycare and schedules. Angie and I did not miss out on one thing growing up because of what she - and my father (Gary) - did,” Tracy added.
The art of cramming a family calendar like the Dan Ryan on St. Patrick’s Day weekend is a new-age one. Jan acknowledges there were simply fewer outlets when Tracy and Angie were growing up.
“Back in my day, there weren’t all these activities for kids. Sure, there was summer camp and a handful of school activities, but that was it. I don’t think a mom has to be home necessarily. They can still work and have extra money to do things for the family,” Jan observed.
Like most selfless mothers, Jan downplays the significance of the holiday. However, Mother’s Day 2015 was one even she - and the rest of the family - concede was special.
“When Everett was born, we all went to Cincinnati to celebrate Mother’s Day there. To see the next generation of our family expand was very memorable,” Tracy recalls.
The tradition of sitting around the kitchen table and sharing a meal is one the Wagners will honor this Mother’s Day. Angie, a culinary champion, will prepare brunch for the extended family.
And, sure enough, it’ll be back to work on Monday where attendance will have to be taken, graduation programs will have to be drafted, and over 200 Blazers will be awaiting her voice over the intercom.
“The day may come when we’re not all working together, and we’ll look back and appreciate this unique time,” Tracy concluded.
Marquette would like to wish all mothers a very happy Mother’s Day. Especially Jan.