By Laura Barlament
While President Martin has spent his career serving higher education, his wife, Jan Martin, is also an accomplished educator. She brings deep experience in K–12 teaching, specializing in science.
In addition, her personal warmth has immediately endeared her to members of the Wagner community.
“The first thing I noticed about Joel Martin was that he cared and came from a genuine place. It was clear he wanted to help,” said Dan Hughes ’19, the student member of the presidential search committee. “And Jan is, honestly, phenomenal. She did a fantastic job of stamping that approval for us.”
Jan Martin grew up in several locations, including Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. She graduated from high school in Pittsford, New York — a significant location in Wagner history. Pittsford is the Rochester suburb where the local Lutheran pastors held their initial meetings to plan the school that became Wagner College.
She attended the University of Pennsylvania for her bachelor’s degree in biology, continuing on to attain a master’s in science education. Then, she started her career as a science teacher at West Irondequoit High School in Rochester, New York. She ventured from there to teach on the Navajo reservation, where she lived with a Navajo code-talker.
Jan Martin discovered her love of teaching during her years at Penn. Since then, she has taught science in elementary, middle, and high schools.
“Every level I’ve loved,” she says. “I’ve loved to explore the potential of children. I feel like every child needs champions, and every child has extraordinary potential. Once their potential is released, the possibilities are boundless. That drives and inspires me.”
Most recently in her career, she has been organizing extraordinary, enriching experiences for students in York, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding region. She coordinated Penn State York’s annual Pathways to Your Future Conference, which aims to inspire girls to study the sciences. She also helped lead a STEAM Academy — an enrichment program focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics — within a York public school. A couple of years ago, this program became a full-fledged STEAM public school. Jan Martin led science teacher training, engaging students in project-based learning while also forging dynamic connections to community organizations and companies.
Jan Martin has three children who are all young professionals: Alyssa, an investment banker, and Liz, who works in private wealth management, both in Manhattan; and Michael, who enlisted in the Air Force.
Having learned to cook from her grandmothers, she enjoys trying new recipes, and especially baking. She says the term “procrastibaking,” which the New York Times food writer Julia Moskin has defined as “the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding ‘real’ work” — perfectly fits her, because she enjoys using baking to bring joy to others and celebrate milestones in their lives.
She plans to put her “procrastibaking” experience to good use at Wagner. “My role right now is to get to know the Wagner campus and the people, so that I can be involved and supportive,” she says. “I’m there to support Joel and his initiatives. We really believe in Wagner College’s mission and promise.”