Jennifer Mehlenbacher awarded GVSBA 2020 Al Hawk Award

The award is named for Albert W. Hawk, a longtime advocate for rural schools and member of both the Dansville Board of Education

Staff reports
Jennifer Mehlenbacher was presented with the Al Hawk Award named for Albert W. Hawk, a longtime advocate for rural schools and member of both the Dansville Board of Education and the Genesee Valley BOCES Board of Education.

Jennifer Mehlenbacher, Board of Education President for the Geneseo Central School District, has been selected as the 2020 Al Hawk Award recipient.

Mehlenbacher has served on the Geneseo Central School (GCS) District’s Board of Education for nearly a decade, five of those years presiding as Board President. Even with this length of experience, Mehlenbacher remains humble in her position.

The Al Hawk Award is an annual award presented by the Genesee Valley School Board Association (GVSBA) for distinguished school board service. The award is given to a current or former school board member for outstanding contributions to public education and children in his or her community. The award is named for Albert W. Hawk, a longtime advocate for rural schools and member of both the Dansville Board of Education and the Genesee Valley BOCES Board of Education. Sadly, Hawk passed away in 2018.

“I am very proud of all of the high rankings GCS constantly achieves in state and national publications, this is due to the incredibly talented, dedicated, and professional staff that we have and the seasoned and hard-working administrators who support them,” said Mehlenbacher.

During Mehlenbacher’s tenure on the board, the district was able to construct a new Transportation Facility on school grounds. This was a project that had needed to be done for decades.

“I was so happy to be a part of that process and the successful transition to that new facility that is now located on the school property which was always something I had wished for as a parent,” said Mehlenbacher.

As with so many surrounding school districts, Geneseo Central School has navigated these uncharted waters and faced many challenges.

“Jenn has remained steadfast in her commitment to supporting GCS staff and students. The situation with COVID-19 elicits an emotional response from many and at times polar opposite viewpoints,” said Cindy Flowers, Geneseo Central School District Superintendent. “Jenn has supported GCS as we have reopened our school safely in a hybrid model and recently transitioned the K-5 building back to in-person instruction.”

Mehlenbacher currently works for Child Care Council as the Branch Coordinator and Registrar of Family and School Age Child Care programs in Livingston County. Mehlenbacher has lived in Geneseo for nearly her entire life. Moving to Geneseo when she was in second grade, Mehlenbacher graduated as part of Geneseo’s Class of 1990. From there, she attended the State University College at Buffalo where she received a BS in Elementary Education, and later returned to Geneseo to attend SUNY Geneseo where she earned an MS in Early Childhood Education. Mehlenbacher married her high school sweetheart, who also graduated in 1989 from the Geneseo Central School District.

Together, they raised their two children in Geneseo, who have both since graduated from GCS, 2016 and 2020, respectively.

“I think that making sure that all board members feel heard and have their questions answered and concerns allayed is vital to having a highly functional and supportive board. The group I currently work with, many of whom have been on the board as long as I have, are consummate professionals and have become trusted friends,” said Mehlenbacher. “Knowing that every decision that we make will affect people and their lives can be daunting at times and made more so if we make decisions that cannot be fully explained due to the confidential nature of how or why some decisions are made.”

Echoing these sentiments, Flowers stated that, “The time and commitment that Jenn has given to GCS is substantial, and often times this role is difficult. This year it is even more challenging. I am proud to recognize and honor Jenn's dedication to GCS. I am so pleased that she has been selected as this year’s Al Hawk Award honoree.”

The Geneseo Central School District is a distinguished school district that has been awarded many accolades including ranking Best School District in Livingston County by Business First in 2019, multiple Stars of Tomorrow awards, winning countless Odyssey of Mind regional, state, and world competitions, multiple sectional and state titles awarded to student-athletes, and having its art department recognized and awarded first and second place awards at local art shows.

“It has been my great honor and privilege to serve on the board these last eight years to support these wonderful accomplishments and find ways to provide as many of these varied opportunities as possible for the children of this community,” said Mehlenbacher. “My goal has always been to play a small role in ensuring each of our children achieve their individual goals and have the dreams for their futures come true.”