The passing of a Spartan
On March 6, the BH-BL district and community lost an exceptionally devoted, respected, and admired Spartan, Jennie Pennington.
Some people will remember Mrs. Pennington as their teacher or principal; others will remember her as their colleague or leader. But nearly everyone who was fortunate enough to know Jennie will also remember her as a friend.
Jennie was truly invested in her students and her staff, and she spent much of her time encouraging, inspiring, and supporting her BH-BL family. It always pleased her to learn of the accomplishments and successes of her former students as well as of the many teachers she hired at BH-BL.
Jennie began her lengthy career at BH-BL in 1969 as a Junior High School English teacher where she was proud to introduce students to her passion for literature. In 1973 Jennie became the English unit head where she was greatly involved in the redesign and development of the Grade 9 English program. She became an assistant principal at the high school in 1978, and in 1985 Jennie became the district’s first female high school principal.
In this position, Jennie spent 20 years molding and shaping BH-BL High School into one of the top performing schools in the state with an enviable graduation rate. She worked closely with her administrative team, faculty, and staff to implement block scheduling and create an Academic Support Center. She was also actively involved in the highly regarded Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and was instrumental in BH-BL High School’s recognition as a National School of Excellence.
Upon her retirement from BH-BL in 2005, Jennie worked as a contract negotiator for the State Administrators Association of NYS, for whom she settled well over 100 contracts. She recently returned to BH-BL as the interim human resources administrator–a position she was happy to take because, she said, “BH-BL was like home to her.”
As we remember one of BH-BL High School’s great leaders, we also mourn the loss of two recently retired employees whose contributions to the district, students and staff for the past 20 years have left lasting impressions.
High school teaching assistant Helen Smrstik worked with a close-knit group of students reinforcing their academic instruction, encouraging and supporting their continued growth, and being a friend and confidant. Helen’s dedication to her students went beyond the classroom, and for that, she will always be cherished.
Liz Falkowitz’s knowledge of the inner workings of the business department and her attention to detail contributed greatly to the district continually receiving commendable audit reports and positive fiscal reports. Her expertise and dedication will be missed.
It has been a difficult month at BH-BL, marked by the passing of too many of our friends and colleagues. To celebrate the memory and legacy of Jennie Pennington, and to honor the loss of Spartans who have meant so much to BH-BL, the Teachers’ Association and the Administrators Association invite faculty, staff, retirees, and others who worked closely with Jennie to a memorial reception on Sunday, March 13 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the BH-BL High School cafeteria.
Additionally, calling hours are being held at the Glenville Funeral Home, 9 Glenridge Road on Sunday, March 13 from 2 to 5 p.m.