Delores Jenkins has been walking around with a thoroughly creased piece of paper in her purse for weeks. At the slightest hint of interest, she’ll whip it out to show someone or make a photocopy for them to keep.
The paper is a letter from the Town of Babylon, congratulating the lifelong Wyandanch woman on being chosen as an honoree at next week’s 24th annual Black History Month celebration.
“This is the best honor I could ever wish for,” said Jenkins, principal of LaFrancis Hardiman Elementary School. “I feel so special and proud.”
The theme of this year’s celebration is Black Women in American Culture and History and the town has chosen seven women to be awarded for their contributions to the community in areas like education, community service, unity, economics and education, said Madeline Quintine-Bayton, commissioner of human services for Babylon Town.
Also being honored are Margie Billups, of Amityville, for economics; Beverly Brewster, of Amityville, for community service; Sondra Cochran, of Wyandanch, for community service; Miriam D. Couch, of Sayville, for unity; and Klyde Hunter-Epps and Oneida S. Lee, both of Amityville, will receive special recognition.
“These are some pretty dynamite people who have done some huge things in their lives,” Quintine-Bayton said, “and we are able to celebrate them.”
The ceremony will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Town Hall Annex in North Babylon.
Quintine-Bayton said the women being honored were chosen for their leadership and dedication to the community.
Jenkins, 62, has been principal at LaFrancis Hardiman, the district’s school for pre-kindergarten through second grade, since the building opened in 1998. Last year, she oversaw both of the district’s elementary schools at the same time when the district temporarily merged administrations because of budget cuts.
“I knew that she could do that,” said District Superintendent Pless Dickerson. “She has a vast knowledge of education, she generates a lot of enthusiasm among the students and excitement among the staff.”
Dickerson said Jenkins has been a force behind building up the importance of the school library and exposing her students to the world around them with a focus on culture and field trips.
He said Jenkins has a standing relationship with Five Towns College and the Hardiman students take a field trip there every year.
“At that age she’s trying to introduce them the idea of college,” he said. “She wants to get them exposed. Kids can be very insular at this age and never leave their own communities. She doesn’t want that.”
Jenkins said she has never considered retiring because she believes she has a responsibility to the community to help educate its youngest members.
“But also, I would miss the hugs,” she said. “The kids come up to me, their noses running, and they want a hug. There’s no greater feeling than that.”
Photo: Delores Jenkins, 62, principal of LaFrancis Hardiman Elementary School, will be honored for her contribution to education at the Town of Babylon's 24th annual Black History Month celebration. (Feb. 15, 2012)