Meet Janet Kresl Moffat, WHS Biology Teacher and Environmental Champion

Courtesy photo: Janet with family


At a recent high school principal’s coffee, the Owl learned that there are three teachers who are retiring this year at the high school and middle school level, all in the sciences. Yesterday, I reached out to Janet Kresl Moffat, biology teacher and long-time advisor of the Students for Environmental Action, a high school club that appears here from time to time, alway doing incredible things and making the world better.

Janet will be retiring at the end of this school year. I am not happy with this situation but as usual, the owlets would chorus “no one cares” about my thoughts. Following up on some of the other teacher and school staff profiles I have done over the last couple of years, I present you with Janet Kresl Moffat, who will be missed greatly by Weston students past and present. Perhaps I can get her to be the Owl’s Science Correspondent? Anything is possible.


Owl: You have been in Weston public schools for how many years?  

Janet Kresl Moffat (JKM): I started teaching at Weston in September, 1992 so this is my 31st year.  I’ve even taught a few students recently who are children of my first year Weston students. I also taught Megan Leddy who you profiled a couple of weeks ago.

Owl: What subjects have you taught? Always Biology or other subjects too?  

JKM: I taught Chemistry and 7th grade during my first years at Weston, but have mostly taught Biology – CP, Honors, AP and Anatomy/Physiology

Owl: What has changed about teaching methods and practices in WPS?

Weston has consistently focused on students as learners and individuals.  We strive to keep a balance between the academic and the social/emotional.  The variety of approaches to learning in the classroom has increased over the years to engage more students in learning.  In recent years, especially with the pandemic, the social/emotional has received a lot of focus but teachers remain committed to our academic core.  

Owl: Which is your favorite unit to teach?

JKM: That’s actually a hard question to answer because I have many favorites.  Ecology is a great opportunity to see Biology in action at a noncellular level.  Evolution is all about change and how that happens; it connects us to every living organism on the planet.  DNA overwhelms us with vocabulary, but is fascinating in how much it explains in current medicine, especially during what we’ve lived through with the pandemic.  I guess I find learning most exciting when I can apply it to something I find relevant; I try to keep that focus in the classroom.

Owl: How long have you been a faculty advisor with Students for Environmental Action? Has the focus of the organization changed over time?  

JKM: Students for Environmental Action was a club when I started at Weston.  I’ve been an advisor for around 20 years.  My goal as advisor is to let the students lead.  Recycling and climate change have been constant issues over the years.  Since neither of those problems has found a solution, courageous high schoolers still look for ways to make an impact.   I’m very proud of this year’s students who went to our state representatives to lobby for climate change; that’s a first for the club and shows that today’s youth are concerned about their future. [See this Owl].  

If this photo of Janet and Claude Valle, legendary math teacher, doesn’t crack you up, seek help.


Owl: What makes Weston the best school system, or what is our superpower?

JKM: I think Weston’s superpower is hiring well educated, intelligent and thoughtful professionals committed to students as people and learners.  And then allowing the teachers to flourish in the classroom.  Teaching is an “art” and Weston has allowed teachers to be creative in the classroom. This is a huge advantage for students; over the years, I have been fascinated by how each teacher connects with different students.  I think giving Weston teachers  independence results in more passionate and more engaged teaching.  And it keeps us more interested in improving our skills and becoming better teachers all the time.

Owl: What will you miss most about teaching? What are your plans for retirement? …if you feel like sharing…

JKM: I definitely will miss the daily interaction with students and my colleagues.  I learn something new every day and that keeps me interested and hopeful.  I’m very grateful to have had 31 dynamic years teaching the Weston students.  I will miss those moments when a student takes a step forward – curious about something new, feeling proud of success on an assessment, excited to have new information.

I have never had a vacation outside school vacations so I am looking forward to traveling throughout the year – coming to a decision where has been the hard part.  I have a lot of interests – being outdoors, birdwatching and gardening – to name a couple.  I will continue my volunteer work with the Stow Conservation Trust and Open Table, a local food pantry.  And then, …..


I think I speak for all who have been touched by her extraordinary hope and energy that we wish Janet the most wonderful retirement filled with new learnings, challenges and bugs (well, that is what I always wish my Brazilian mother-in-law who is also a biologist). There is no doubt that she will keep making our metrowest-plus a better place.

Once a ‘cat, always a ‘cat!

Leave a Reply