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AAUW pays tribute to former member

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How does a community say “thank you” to one of its own, long-time residents whose passion was to further children’s education and an awareness of the world?
Recently, the Los Alamos Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) initiated a memorial book fund to honor one of its own former members, Jean Nereson.
Nereson was an elementary school teacher in the Los Alamos County Public Schools for more than 50 years. She was respected and loved by her students, who number more than 1,800, because they knew she deeply cared about their well being.
Nereson passed away in 2012 at the age of 93.
Nereson arrived in Los Alamos in 1943, one of the first teachers hired for the Manhattan Project. She taught first at Central School, the only elementary school in town, until Mesa School was built in 1947.
After Mesa School was converted into the UNM-LA campus, she transferred to Barranca Mesa Elementary school, where she taught until retiring in 1995. She taught mainly third grade.
To make world cultures more tangible to her students, Nereson traveled extensively, collecting clothes, dolls, books, curios and local arts and crafts to show the children.
As her family recalls, she would buy a set of zipper suitcases that fit one inside the other and by the time she returned from a trip, they would all be full. And then their contents would be turned into dioramas, bulletin board collages and other festive displays of life around the world.
In collaboration with the Nereson family, the Los Alamos Retired Teachers Association, and Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional honor society of women educators, AAUW has established the Jean Nereson Books Memorial.
The memorial fund is being administered through the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) Foundation for the purpose of purchasing books for each of the Los Alamos elementary school libraries over the next five years.
The goal is to carry on Nereson’s educational passion by providing cultural and historical resources that will enrich the learning experience of future generations of Los Alamos students.
AAUW sees the memorial fund as a meaningful way to honor Nereson for her years of dedicated teaching, confirming her value to our community, while at the same time contributing to the educational resources of our schools.
The Nereson family’s generous offer to match up to $20,000 in donations offers all of us in Los Alamos a unique opportunity to double the impact of our giving.
To date, the LAPS Foundation has received $6,000, largely as a result of contributions from the sponsoring organizations, many of whose members or their children were former students of Nereson. LAPS Foundation is a 529A organization and all donations are tax deductible.
Checks should be made out to the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, with Jean Nereson Books Memorial noted on the memo line, and mailed to 1900 Diamond Dr., Suite 1, Los Alamos, NM 87544.