For most people, middle school is filled with complex emotions and heightened expectations, where a student can oscillate between childhood innocence and adolescent responsibility. It’s a time where young people can feel lost and alone and not know who to turn to, especially when it comes to the adults in their lives. Mrs. Jennifer Reinheimer, eighth-grade guidance counselor at Kennett Middle School, has made it her life’s work to help young people discover who they are during this time in their lives
Mrs. Reinheimer, known as Jenna V. to her coworkers, has served the Kennett community for 20 years. She received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College in psychobiology and her master of science in counseling and human relations from Villanova University. Before beginning her career in education, Mrs. Reinheimer worked at the Central Intelligence Agency with children of undercover agents, performing a combination of therapeutic and educational duties. She discovered her passion for counseling children and returned to school to pursue her master’s. She began working at Kennett in 1998, starting at New Garden Elementary School and Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center before taking her current role at the middle school. Although she didn’t begin in education, taking care of children has been a lifelong passion – as a child, Mrs. Reinheimer dreamed of being a pediatrician.
School counseling can be difficult and underappreciated, but Mrs. Reinheimer finds joy in the students she serves. “The best part of this job is watching Kennett students grow up,” she says. “I love watching them develop. It can be challenging to witness the struggle, but it is so rewarding to watch them overcome those struggles.”
Mrs. Reinheimer takes a “holistic, full-circle approach.” One of her biggest duties is transitioning students from fifth to sixth grade and then transitioning those same students from eighth to ninth grade. “A challenge with today’s generation is reconciling their identities with technology, a different struggle than previous generations. Technology is a huge part of their lives and influences everything, from identity to social bonds,” she says. Mrs. Reinheimer strives to help her students understand these life transitions and how technology can help and hinder them.
The day-to-day work of a counselor, Mrs. Reinheimer says, is “so much more than what people think.” Her focus is on what each student wants to be and how they can get there. This caring outlook echoes throughout the lives of Kennett students, even after their departure from the middle school. She has heard students for several reasons, from wanting to pursue counseling themselves to just saying hello. She adds, “Having someone reach out when you least expect it is a gift and makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”
Mrs. Reinheimer is also fulfilled by her professional collaboration with colleagues in and outside Kennett. “I think it’s very important to be connected to the field because you never stop learning. I continually strive to do better by gaining more knowledge so I can be a role model for my students.”
“Kennett is a phenomenal school district. There are fantastic opportunities and the quality of staff is incomparable. I have no hesitation in recommending Kennett to anyone.”
Mrs. Reinheimer has also performed various other duties in the school: she participated in the District’s Strategic Committee, received a grant to attend the 2002 American School Counselor Conference, served as the lead facilitator for the Middle School’s Student Assistance Program for several years, and continues to serve as the lead facilitator for the No Place for Hate Program, a subsidiary component of the Bullying Prevention Task Force. She has been instrumental in helping Kennett Middle School receive their No Place for Hate Designation. Along with her leadership in the school, Mrs. Reinheimer enjoys fostering children’s physical capabilities by acting as the Kennett Middle School cross-country coach. She has done this for 11 year and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
When she’s not working, she can be found shuttling her three active sons to various athletic practices.