Patrick Jenkins agreed to sit down with The Zachary Advocate and Plainsman for our “13 Questions” series.
- NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION: Patrick Jenkins, 47, interim principal of Copper Mill Elementary School and beginning sixth season as assistant coach for the Zachary High School girls basketball team.
- BORN: Opelousas
- EDUCATION: Graduated from Opelousas High School in 1986, obtained a bachelor of science degree in secondary mathematics education from Southern University in 1991 and attained a master of education degree in administration and supervision in 2000.
- MILITARY: Retired at the rank of major after 22 years of service with the U.S. Army National Guard.
- FAMILY: Married to Charlene Jenkins, owner and director of an infant/toddler development center in Zachary. The Jenkins have three children: son Javon, 25, and two daughters, Kai, 21, and Zuri, 15. Their granddaughter, Eryn, will turn 3 this week.
- FIRST JOB: Worked as a math and science teacher at Hines Middle School in Newport News, Virginia.
How did you feel about being asked to become interim principal of Copper Mill after serving as the district’s operations manager?
I’m like the artist formerly known as Prince but instead, I’m the principal formerly known as assistant principal (Northwestern Middle), principal (Northwestern Elementary), principal (Zachary Elementary), principal (Port Hudson Career Academy), director of operations and now interim principal (Copper Mill). The truth is, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with the students, teachers and staff, and I’m passionate about this school district. I’ve been here since its start in 2003 and have worked with all age groups of students.
Have you taught or worked for any other school district?
I’ve taught in East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parish schools, as well as for the Department of Defense in Italy. My first job was as a teacher in Virginia.
Your wife operates a childhood development center in Zachary. Do you discuss education all the time?
Yes, all the time. We do have many discussions though about her center, especially since centers like hers are partnering with more schools in an effort to transition students successfully into elementary school. I think it’s a natural conversation to have. We joke that she gets them when they’re really young, and I get them when they’re older.
You’re retired from the military. Do you incorporate any military-style principles in your work as principal, teacher or coach?
Yes, every day. I try to use principles centered around organization, leadership, communication and, of course, discipline, which everyone needs. Military life has served me well in many capacities in life.
What’s the toughest part about being leader of a school?
Probably effective communication, since there’s so much of it going on between myself and the staff, the teachers and students, or between the school and the parents. Communication is vital to any successful operation, and a person must be able to communicate effectively where it is everyone is going, even if they don’t always have the answer. If a person can communicate with intent, then I believe that’s half the battle.
What was the toughest part about serving in the military?
Well, I toured in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, which was tough, but I was also called upon during hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, and the BP oil spill. They were just as tough but challenging in different ways.
Was the recent 10th anniversary of Katrina emotional for you?
It was difficult. I never thought I’d see anything like what was happening in New Orleans on American soil. There were so many things going on that should not have been going on. Things I can’t even discuss. But let’s just say we made an impact and touched people’s lives by providing rescue and recovery services. But yes, it was tough and difficult and challenging.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Hmm, maybe that I played for the Human Jukebox for two years while at Southern? I played the trombone. And no, I don’t play anymore.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t, I’m a workaholic. I love what I do, so it’s not really like work. I do like to read, though. That calms me.
What do you read?
Nonfiction, fiction and self-motivational books. I recommend books all the time to other people.
Mac or PC?
iPhone or Smartphone?
Former iPhone user, current Android user.
Right now, what would we find tuned on your radio or in your compact disc player?
SiriusXM talk radio, but I am a lover of all music. I’m into all kinds of genres like country, rap, blues, jazz. I like it all except heavy metal. Nope, heavy metal I just can’t do.