Cumberland Times-News

Local News

May 7, 2010

Trees symbolic of beauty late education advocates saw in schoolchildren

Families help plant dogwoods to honor memories of Jane Dawson, Fred Sloan

CUMBERLAND — Jane Dawson and Fred Sloan would have been pleased.

Family members helped plant two flowering dogwood trees outside the Allegany County Board of Education Friday morning to honor the memories of the longtime education advocates, both of whom passed away last year.

“Oh, it’s a beautiful thing,” said Dawson’s daughter, Janie Heiertz, who used one of the shovels from the groundbreaking of Mountain Ridge High School to place dirt around one tree. 

“Using those shovels, she would really be pleased. We’re grateful that everyone took the time to do something this meaningful.”

Teachers and principals from across the county gathered on the front lawn of the Washington Street building for the tree-planting ceremony, which included brief remarks by State Superintendent of Education Nancy Grasmick.

Dawson, who served on the local school board for more than six years, died July 24 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 76.

Sloan, a career teacher and administrator who served five years on the board, died Dec. 3. He was 64.

“As the board grappled with many critical decisions in this county, these people were such a voice of reason,” said Grasmick, who knew both Sloan and Dawson.

“I am grateful and privileged that I had the opportunity to work with them ... and to learn from them and to be uplifted by their incredible dedication.”

Board president Karen Treber said Dawson and Sloan “were among the best advocates for children in all of Allegany County.”

“Jane was always looking out for the underdog,” said Treber, adding that although Sloan was soft-spoken, he “always, always got his point across.”

Sloan’s son, Mac Sloan, said he was glad that students were included in Friday’s ceremony. A choir of about 50 children from South Penn, John Humbird and West Side elementary schools performed songs such as “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” and “Yankee Doodle.”

And several students from Mac Sloan’s environmental science class at Fort Hill High School helped plant the trees.

“It’s cool because Dad was an advocate for outdoor education,” Mac Sloan said.

 After the trees were planted, guests lingered on the lawn, sharing memories of Dawson and Sloan. Others drifted inside, where they enjoyed refreshments prepared by students from the Center for Career and Technical Education.

“Mom, she would love it,” said Dawson’s son, Bobby. “Then she would tell everybody to get back to work.”

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at kbarkley@times-news.com.

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