On April 25, staff, students, and guests gathered at Cathedral Catholic School in Pembroke for a warm and fun-filled assembly to honour Jean McConeghy (aka Miss Jean), who was hired by the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board in September 1968.=
I have been blessed to have worked with Jean for the past 6 years,” said Karen Kenny, current Principal, describing Miss Jean as the hub who keeps everything moving smoothly. “She has brought warmth, hospitality, good humour and joy to our school community for 50 years.”
“I have always loved it,” said McConeghy, “I have had a wonderful career. There is never a bad day, or never a stressful day, thanks to the children and the wonderful staff.”
Among the guests on hand for the celebration were Jaimie Perry, RCCDSB Director of Education, Mary-Lise Rowat, Superintendent of Educational Services, Bishop Mulhall and Father Beanish, Ms. Wachter, local COPE President, and parents representing Cathedral school council.
Bringing congratulations on behalf of the RCCDSB trustees and administrative staff, Trustee Bob Schreader stated, “You have done a marvellous job over 50 years of dedicated service.”
Dave Jones, Cathedral Principal from 1977 to 1987, noted that Miss Jean demonstrated “all the attributes of a great second in command,” and that “her love of children was reflected daily in her encounters with students.”
Former Principal Alfie Sicoli spoke about the positive qualities he admired in Miss Jean when it came to challenging tasks. She would always make a call, talk to the right person and do what it took to resolve issues, he remarked. “I admired her tenacity, her ability to learn and never give up.”
In all, McConeghy has worked for 19 principals between Cathedral and St. Patrick’s School (on Ellis Avenue, now the Knights of Columbus Hall), and she is now administering her special brand of caring to the third generation of students from some families.
As each class paid special tribute to Miss Jean on Administrative Professionals Day, it was easy to see that she holds a special place in their hearts. Grade 2–3 students shared their thoughts on what Miss Jean does all day in the office (e.g., party, watch YouTube videos), and why they love her: “I love Miss Jean because she is kind and cares about us”, “She gives me band-aids when I am hurt,” She is kind and loving,” “She is pretty.” In their song, Miss Jean you are special, Kindergarten students sang, “We would be lost here, without your good cheer, make it 51 next year.”
The assembly drew to a close with all students standing to sing the theme song from the Golden Girls television show, Thank-you for being a friend, followed by cake for everyone.
McConeghy admitted that although she usually knows everything that goes on around the school, the assembly was a surprise. “It was beautiful.”
She touched on some of the change she has seen in the school office environment over the past 50 years. In the beginning when she worked at both Cathedral and St. Patrick’s she would bring the electric typewriter from St. Pat’s with her in the trunk of her car to Cathedral because the typewriter there was still manual.
She also recalled working with a Gestetner duplicating machine in the early days. “All the teachers’ clothes would be stained black from it. I had it down to a science,” she reflected with a chuckle.
Though it was feared in the beginning, technology has made the job easier, she said.
She acknowledged that over the years her perspective has shifted with regards to change. “I used to think when I got a new principal that it wouldn’t be as good, but as I got older I realized it’s all good, just in a different way. I truly believe change is good.”
One change that she is not ready for just yet is retirement. Though she has plenty of hobbies such as golfing, gardening, reading, and playing cards, Miss Jean plans to be at the helm at Cathedral again next year.
Photo: Cathedral Catholic School was buzzing with excitement as students sported red hair, glasses, and leopard print for Administrative Professionals Day on April 25 to honour secretary Jean McConeghy and celebrate a milestone of 50 years working for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.
April 30, 2018
For further information, please contact:
Jaimie Perry, Director of Education
Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
499 Pembroke Street West
Pembroke, ON K8A 5P1
Phone: 613-735-1031 or 1-800-267-0191