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In Loving Memory of our Charter Member

Janet Henderson Palmer Owens 

October 11, 1946 - December 22, 2021​


In loving memory of our dear sister Janet Palmer Owens

A native of Boston, MA, Janet Palmer Owens devoted her entire life to educating urban children and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northeastern University on a scholarship provided by the Ford Foundation.  At Northeastern, she became a member of the Epsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  

She was a dedicated and passionate educator, a caring mentor, and a strong role model and leader.  Janet began her teaching career in 1969 at the William Monroe Trotter School in Roxbury as one of the youngest teachers on staff.  For eleven years (1974 -1985) Ms. Owens then served as the guidance counselor at the Thompson Middle School, followed by ten years at Brighton High School.  

When asked to assume leadership of the award-winning Samuel Mason Elementary School in 1998, Ms. Owens set out to take the school to the next level.  During her tenure as principal, she established a strong learning foundation for students, created a culture of academic rigor, and oversaw the school’s transition to pilot status.  In November 2003, the Mason was chosen from among the top schools in the nation to be named a member of the National Alliance of Black School Educators Demonstration Schools/Community Initiative.  

In June 2007, Ms. Owens was appointed as Assistant Superintendent for the Boston Public Schools, working with more than forty schools throughout the city.  After a year on Governor Deval Patrick’s Task Force for Education, she was asked to serve on the Governor’s Leadership Council to help develop the Massachusetts Strategic Plan for Education.  BPS Superintendent Carol R. Johnson then selected Ms. Owens to serve as Academic Superintendent for the Pilot Schools, where she worked with innovative principals and headmasters to increase academic achievement.  In April 2009, Janet was appointed as Chief Academic Officer for Boston Public Schools.  Finally retiring as CAO in 2010, she ended her career having brought decades of knowledge, instructional leadership, creative thinking, and empathy to the district. 

Janet was an active member of the Rho Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. for over 30 years. The scholarship in her name honors her longstanding commitment to mentoring educators who will in turn give their very best to the youth of Boston and other urban communities. The scholarship will be awarded to graduate students who are committed to teaching or administration in urban schools, preferably in Boston or the surrounding areas.


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