My niece, Jennie Randolph, was honored on August 17 as the Daily American Republic (DAR) 2023 Difference Maker of the Year in Poplar Bluff, Mo. She is a passionate high school English teacher who makes a difference in the lives of students and staff members.
I am quite proud of my niece and was thrilled to see Jennie’s passion for serving acknowledged in such a public way. In reading the front-page DAR article about her I learned several new things about my niece. Jennie is not only a teacher she is also the co-sponsor of the Student Council, a group which does more than 50 projects each school year; many of which encourage students to volunteer and give back to the community. She and her husband, Zac, have been foster parents.
My niece serves on two Poplar Bluff Municipal Library boards and she has been the volunteer coordinator for the Southeast Missouri Special Olympics. Jennie serves as secretary for Youth for Christ, a group which organizes a week of camp for children and teens each summer. She helped begin a program to encourage youth with special needs to be involved in sports. In her first year of teaching, Jennie began an American Sign Language club which helped lay the foundation for the district to now have an American Sign Language class. During the 2022-23 school year she was involved with students in distributing over 4,000 kindness cards so every student was encouraged multiple times during the school year. She helped establish a school store for students to learn basic retail skills. Jennie continues to oversee this project in addition to her teaching responsibilities.
This is only a partial list of the many worthy activities with which Jennie has been involved. As impressive as her accomplishments are, they are even more remarkable when you realize she has not yet celebrated her 29th birthday.
Many have inspired Jennie, but I want to specifically mention her parents and grandparents. Her dad, Bob, has been a firefighter for most of his life, and her mom, Michelle, teaches special needs preschool students. Her grandfather, Marvin, who served as a pastor, and her grandmother, Pauline, influenced her by dedicating their lives to helping others.
Jennie’s life reminds me of something the Apostle Paul wrote, he encouraged us to, “…serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NLT) When my niece was honored she said, “Biblically, we are called to serve as we model our lives after Christ as he gave us the biggest example of serving… We cannot have a better community unless we are willing to invest in those around us.” I could not agree more. Congratulations, Jennie, this world is a better place because of you, and I am extremely proud to be your uncle.