Jean Kenney Retires After 28 Years in Walpole Public Schools

After 28 years of working within the Walpole Public Schools (WPS) system, Jean Kenney is retiring from her role as Assistant Superintendent.

Though Kenney has spent years in the education field, her career did not start out that way. After graduating from high school at Girls’ Latin School in Boston, Kenney attended Newton College of the Sacred Heart—now Boston College. Despite wanting to pursue a teaching job, her college advisor at the time advised against doing so due to a lack of job availability.

“He said that time period was the ‘Era of Women in Business.’ I changed my major to Economics and started working for the federal government,” Kenney said. Kenney eventually left her government job to take care of her three children and became involved with the story hour program at Walpole Public Library, which segued into her decision to become an educator. “I loved planning stories and activities and decided that when my children were older, I would return to school to become an educator,” Kenney said. “When my children began school, I became a volunteer in their school and classrooms. My commitment to education was reinforced by the wonderful teachers and principals with whom I volunteered.”

Kenney received her Master’s degree in Education from Bridgewater State University and became an ESP, or instructional aide, at Old Post Road Elementary School. The following year, she was hired as a third grade teacher at Fisher Elementary School.

“I was thrilled to work at Fisher because that is the school my children attended and where I had done most of my volunteer service,” Kenney said.

While working at Fisher, Kenney taught students who had difficulties with reading and wanted to learn about how to better cater to their needs, so she enrolled in a Master of Education in Reading program at Salem State University. Kenney became the Reading Specialist at Fisher after the previous one retired and later became assistant principal to former principal Sandra Esmond. Four years later, Kenney was promoted to be Fisher’s principal, where she worked for five years.

“I wanted to be principal because I would be able to work with every student in the school and all the staff members to make the school the best place for children,” Kenney said. “I truly benefited from working with a large team because the students and teachers taught me many things about life and learning.”

When Lincoln Lynch became superintendent, he requested Kenney work at the central office as Director of Curriculum and then Assistant Superintendent, where she worked for 11 years up until now.

“I was very reluctant to leave the students and staff at Fisher because we had made so much progress as a team. I have always loved working with students and teachers but learned that I could do that as Assistant Superintendent,” Kenney said.

Since Kenney’s transition to Assistant Superintendent, she and Lynch have worked day in and day out together and has helped advise Lynch throughout the years.

“Dr. Kenney is the consummate professional educator,” Lynch said. “She has an incredibly high level of intelligence, an impeccable work ethic, outstanding communication skills and a tireless desire to advocate for all students and staff. She will always be considered a valuable member of the WPS Leadership Team.”

As Kenney spends her final days working as Assistant Superintendent, she will miss working with people, whether it be teachers, students, families or administrators, whom she sees nearly every day.

“I will miss the people in Walpole Public Schools. I have truly enjoyed working with our students, all of our staff members who contribute in so many ways, and of course, the parents who strongly support the work in education,” Kenney said. “We have a wonderful community that includes people within and outside of the schools. I am extremely grateful to have lived and worked in Walpole.”

The people who Kenney has worked with will in turn miss her due to her impact on WPS over the past 28 years, including Lynch, who worked daily with Kenney.

“[Kenney] is an expert in the field of faculty training and professional development, as well as curriculum development and implementation,” Lynch said. “I always relied on [Kenney] for an honest response to questions. Her ‘roll up her sleeves’ attitude and strong relationship with staff will be sorely missed.”

While Kenney’s career as an educator is coming to a close, her desire to learn and continuous curiosity will not end.

“I hope to continue to be associated with the schools and contribute to the community in some way. I also have a long list of books to read,” Kenney said. “My husband and I plan to travel, as my goal is to visit all 50 states. We also plan to spend more time with our children and grandchildren.”

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