Mrs Jennifer Jenkins MBE

By Ballyclare High School on 25 June, 2018


When the school bell sounds to mark the end of the summer term in Ballyclare High School, it will also herald the end of an era, with the retirement of Mrs Jennifer Jenkins MBE.

Jen, Senior Executive Officer at Ballyclare High School, is one of life’s special people. Working at the school since the age of 16, when she started as an office junior, she has touched the lives of quite literally thousands of people in the local community and beyond. The support, love and kindness she affords to all is immeasurable.

Jennifer is the school memory. Her ability to recall significant landmarks in the history of the school and in the lives of its personnel is legendary.

Jen embodies the school motto ‘industria et probitate’ (‘hard work and decency’) in her daily interaction with pupils, staff, parents, visitors, colleagues and friends. All have been supported, encouraged and nurtured by her endless capacity to empathise and give without desire for return.

Much of the mutual respect, support, friendliness and encouragement which characterise Ballyclare High originates from the general office from Jennifer and her team.

The fondness with which her office colleagues and friends speak of her testifies to her compassionate leadership – ‘Jen would never ask us to complete a task that she would not do herself.’

Jen’s influence permeates all aspects of school life, far beyond the role specified in her job description. The organisational, motivational and leadership skills which are integral to her current role are important but it is the extent of her contribution to the life of Ballyclare High School and its wider community over 40 years of dedicated service for which she is universally acknowledged, valued and treasured.

While attentive to the changing expectations of the wider community which the school serves, Jen has always remained mindful of the importance of upholding the traditions on which the school was founded and which have been sustained for over 100 years.

The core values of the school align perfectly with her own personal values, such as respect, caring and perseverance. She has always wanted the school to act with care and concern and for those in authority whom she served to show understanding and compassion to those who needed them.

Former pupils pay fulsome tribute to Jen’s profound influence on their lives. Examples include pupils with poor attendance recalling Jen’s early morning phone calls to make sure they get to school on time and previously disaffected children who have fond memories of Jen taking time to explain to them why rules and regulations are necessary to ensure that order and respect are upheld. Many whose experience of school life coincided with challenging circumstances in their personal lives attest to Jen’s limitless kindness and immeasurable compassion, often expressed in the smallest but most uplifting of ways.

The current Principal, Dr Michelle Rainey, echoes the sentiments of the three previous Headmasters under whom Jen served, Mr Cecil Millar, Mr Robert Fitzpatrick and Mr David Knox, when she says:

‘I just don’t know how she does all she does, continuously giving, ever positive. Her behaviour epitomises all that is rich and good and the pastoral support she provides for us all, above all else, is priceless. Her modesty and patience is humbling. School is like a big family and Jen is just adored by our pupils and staff.”