Jane Beth Clayton-Matthews, of Needham, MA, formerly of Newton, MA passed away May 1, 2020 after a yearlong battle with lung cancer. Jane grew up in Newton and attended Newton South High School, Lesley College where she received a BS in Special Education and Teaching, Cambridge College where she received an M.Ed. in Counseling and Social Services, and Boston College where she received a Certificate of Advanced Educational Specialization in School Psychology. She had a long career as a teacher and counselor, beginning as a special needs teacher at the Community Center School for Children with Special Learning Disabilities in Newton. She was the executive director of Bedford Youth and Family Services in Bedford (formerly known as Sun Dance Youth Services), and then a school guidance counselor at Locke Middle School in Billerica and then Weston Middle School in Weston, where she worked from 1991 to 2012.
Jane was also active outside of work and after she retired. She was part of a partnership between her church community in Needham and the community of Santa Maria Tzeja in Guatemala, which she visited on several occasions. Jane was a NIA dance fitness instructor for several years, and in retirement trained to become a Reiki practitioner. She volunteered at Brigham and Women’s Hospital giving Reiki to oncology and palliative care patients. She also volunteered as a special education advocate for children in state custody, acting as their education surrogate parent. She went on bike rides and played chimes in church. Perhaps her greatest passion, which she took up late in life, was tennis. She played doubles in an amateur league in Wellesley and Newton, playing – and winning – her final match after cancer surgery.
Jane was a member of the Congregational Church of Needham and Temple Beth Shalom in Needham. She grew up in an interfaith family. Her father, Harry Clayton, was Jewish, and her mother, Shirley Clayton (Naser) was Episcopalian. When she was 8 years old, her parents asked her “What do you want to be?” – a really tough thing for a kid to decide. She chose her mother’s religion but also followed many of her father’s Jewish traditions. When she was in her twenties, she went to temple and asked a rabbi “What do I have to do to convert?” She was given a stack of books and told “Go read all these books and then come back and talk to me.” It wasn’t until 2017 that she tried again and was welcomed by a local rabbi. Jane converted in 2018 and this fulfilled a lifetime spiritual quest. She remained a member of both congregations.
She is survived by her husband, Alan Clayton-Matthews, and her daughter, Jessica Clayton Matthews. She is also survived by her very close cousins Anne, Beth, Carol, Robert, and William Naser, and Robert Whitney.
When asked about when she felt the most alive, she said it was with her relationships she had with other people. She made friends with everyone she met, and her friends often became friends with each other.