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Janet Switzer

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Janet Switzer

June 17, 1932 - November 1, 2014

Dr. Janet Switzer died peacefully at her home in Palos Verdes on November 1st. She will be missed by loving family, colleagues, friends, and by the thousands of children and families she touched with her life's work as a clinical psychologist and the founder of the Switzer Center in Torrance, California.

Jan was born during the depression in Dodge City, Kansas. This mid-western girl found her way to Antioch College, and went on to earn her doctorate at Clark University in 1955. Always a bit of a renegade, she was fiercely committed to ideals of justice and fairness, and never hesitated to express her opinions.

After working at the prestigious Judge Baker Guidance Clinic in Boston, she taught at the University of Hawaii and at UCLA. A stint at Reiss Davis Child Study Center helped clarify the ways in which Dr. Switzer's thinking diverged from prevailing psychoanalytic theories as the best way to treat children. As Director of Training at the Marianne Frostig Center, she found a more compatible framework, yet sought the challenge of opening a center based on her own ideas and methods.

Thus, with Judith Borck, she started the South Bay Center for Educational Therapy in Hermosa Beach in 1966. Her ideas continue to be put into action today, at the Switzer Learning Center in Torrance, now entering its 50th year of improving the lives of children who are striving to compensate for their weaknesses by building on their strengths and gaining competence.

Over the course of her career, Jan Switzer's influence on the fields of special education and child psychology reached far beyond the Switzer Center. She served as president of the California Association of Private Special Education Schools, and as Legislative Chair, helped pioneer funding opportunities for children with special needs on a statewide level. She was one of the Founders of the Association of Educational Therapists a national organization and developed a nationally normed achievement test. Countless people who worked and trained at the Center have carried what they learned there into other endeavors.

Beyond her many achievements, Jan Switzer lived a life rich with love, laughter, friendship, and adventure. Above all else, Jan cherished her life as a professional and - world travel, home, dogs, art, music, the garden, long friendships, and the much loved nieces and nephews whom Jan adored. At the end of her time, in spite of poor health, Jan never lost her sense of humor or her positive attitude. We should all hope to be able to say what Jan told her sister just weeks ago: "I'd say, I had a good life."

She is survived by her partner, Judith Borck; her sister, Ruth Pearl of Bethesda Maryland; and her nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held on December 7th at 1:30 pm. For additional information and to RSVP please contact Robin Overstreet at the Switzer Learning Center at 310 328-3611 x333.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Switzer Learning Center Scholarship Fund 2201 Amapola Court, Torrance, Ca. 90501. Please sign the guest book at www.dailybreeze.com/obits.
Published in Daily Breeze on Nov. 16, 2014
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