Bethel Elementary principal ready for bittersweet goodbye and new challenge

Item photo by Shea Singley Bethel Elementary School principal Cynthia Jenkins with a few of the Bethel kindergarteners.

After eight years as the principal at Tulpehocken’s Bethel Elementary School, Cynthia Jenkins is ready for the next step in her career. Next school year, Jenkins will be the superintendent of Millville Area School District in Millville.

“I am very excited to be taking on this new challenge and chapter in my life,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins began her education career as a teacher for 26 years and then as a principal at Bethel Elementary School for the past eight years. When she first began her career she believed that she would teacher forever and did not have the desire to be part of the administration team.

“I love helping kids and love being there for the kids,” said Jenkins. “I wanted to have a larger effect on the students.”

With each gradual step in her career, Jenkins has been able to impact the lives of more students. As a teacher she was able to help the students in her classroom and then as a principal she was able to do the same for an entire school. Now, she will be able to help even more students with her decisions affecting the lives of those in an entire school district.

During her time at Bethel, Jenkins has gotten to know the students as well as the community and thinks of Bethel and Tulpehocken as a second family.

“You really get to know the people,” she said.

Jenkins took the time to get to know the students under her care and made it a point to make it to various events in the community so that the students would be familiar with her and feel comfortable. She wanted the students to look forward to coming to school for learning as well as fun and games. When out in the community Jenkins recalled having students approach her to say “hi” and being excited to show her what they had accomplished.

“It’s for the kids, it’s something they’ll remember,” she said on attending community functions that her students were involved with. “We do this to help the kids be the best they can be.”

Jenkins found out about the opening of a superintendent position in February of this year. She heard that the current superintendent was retiring and then went through a multiple interview process which she said was a “unique experience.” Along the way there were six different mini-interviews that involved a video interview as well as one with the school board and community. After each interview the candidates were narrowed down and Jenkins was offered the position.

“It was just like being here,” she said. “It was a two way street. If I was a good fit for them it would all workout, but they had to be a good fit for me too.”

“It was an opportunity that was laid out in front of me,” she continued. “I thought, ‘you know what? I’ll give it a shot.’”

Throughout her career and this process, Jenkins has had a large amount of support and encouragement from those around her including her husband and the staff at Tulpehocken. She is not only going to take what she learned from teaching and her experiences from Tulpehocken with her, but also a source that she can go to for advice on being a superintendent.

Jenkins will be able to use Dr. Edward Albert, superintendent of Tulpehocken Area School District, as a mentor in this next chapter of her life.

“He’s a wealth of knowledge and wisdom,” Jenkins said.

Though leaving is bittersweet, Jenkins knows that the next person to take the role as principal at Bethel Elementary School will have different strengths and continue to help the students grow. She is also looking forward to taking on a new challenge.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.