This summer, the Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences, located on Germantown Avenue, will say goodbye to a legend.
This summer, the Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences, located on Germantown Avenue, will say goodbye to a legend. Principal Mary Lynskey has been the “commander in chief” at Jenks since 2008 and recently arrived at the difficult decision to retire.
The oldest of three children, Principal Lynskey grew up in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. She attended Chestnut Hill College, where she achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. She likes to reflect upon how her supportive parents, Dolores and Joe Williams, would introduce her as “our daughter, the teacher.” Those words from her proud parents still make her smile to this day.
What made you interested in teaching?
Lynskey: I always wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I think I just enjoyed knowing that you have a purpose in the lives of others.
How long did you teach and where?
I taught for four years at Our Mother of Consolation in Chestnut Hill and 17 years at Ellwood School in the School District of Philadelphia. I then went on to be a Literacy Coach for the SDP Northwest Region for four years and served one year as a Principal Intern at Hancock Demonstration School and Central High School, both in the district.
You have been both a teacher and a principal. What have you learned from both during your tenure?
I have learned that what we do every day is important. We do make a difference, sometimes in little, incidental moments and sometimes in large, meaningful ways.
Why did you decide to stop teaching and become a principal?
I loved teaching and never wanted to leave it. However, my principal and superintendent suggested I join the principal program. They then recommended me for the Jenks position when it became available.
What aspect of being a principal have you enjoyed the most?
You never live the same day twice when you are a principal! There are so many relationships. Creating programs, events, and experiences have built lasting memories that our students, families, staff, and community can enjoy for years to come.
What has been the most challenging aspect about being a principal?
What are your plans for retirement?
I plan to spend time with my husband Tom (who was a teacher at the Lingelbach school and retired last year) and our two sons and dogs. We have had many dogs – 15 in total – up to 7 rescues at a time! Fidget, Willie, Ollie, Pepper, Dudley, Dexter, and Pooka (who was abandoned at Jenks) are all alive and well and being spoiled by us every day. I also plan to garden all day, play guitar, draw, paint, do some day tripping, and anything else that comes to mind.
What will you miss most about Jenks?
After 13 years of her leadership, and particularly at the closure of what has been a unique and challenging academic year for Jenks – and the world at large – the entire Jenks family wishes Principal Lynksey a relaxing and joyous retirement. Perhaps she’ll come back to visit on occasion, with a guitar and a dog or two in tow. Congratulations and best wishes to Principal Lynskey!