By DAVID COOKE
Blytheville Schools’ PR Director
Blytheville School District employees and members of the district’s Board of Education received a wonderful piece of good news at the April 27 board meeting when a check for $203,468.59 was given to the Blytheville High School Scholarship Foundation on behalf of the late Jan Sinclair, with an endowed scholarship to be presented in her name for future Blytheville High School seniors.
The money was presented to BHSSF chairman Dr. Michael Williams in a special presentation by board member Tobey Johnson. Sinclair was a teacher and counselor for BHS for 38 years and had established a living trust for the district to fulfill her wishes.
Although details of the scholarship have yet to be worked out, the contribution by Sinclair will have its own separate scholarship fund. The Sinclair Scholarship Fund will be No. 8 for the Scholarship Foundation, in much the same way as funds for the Cohen, D.B. Meador and Effie Lee Terrell scholarships.
Jan Rose Sinclair died Oct. 25, 2016.
Supt. Bobby Ashley was obviously very grateful that Sinclair thought so much of the Blytheville School District that she hoped other students could get the chance to further their studies long after she was gone, but he added that for Sinclair the motivation went even further than that.
“Our district was so very fortunate to have a teacher the caliber of Jan Sinclair,” said Ashley. “She spent 35 years as a teacher and three as a counselor, and all of those years were spent with one goal in mind - making BHS and its students the best they could be. She arrived at school very early and remained very late to attain this goal.
Sinclair, Ashley pointed out, also served as sponsor of the Key Club, BHS cheerleaders and the senior class.
“The legacy she left us - physically, mentally, socially and monetarily - will forever have our district in her debt.”
Johnson was a BHS graduate, and she taught for 19 years at Blytheville West Junior High School and eight years at BHS, becoming good friends with Sinclair.
Johnson said she received a letter from Sinclair executor (and BHS graduate) Johnnie Abbott Copeland concerning a living trust created “some time ago” by Jan Sinclair. “The trust was set up for the sole purpose of awarding scholarships to our graduating seniors,” Johnson stated. “I discussed the trust with (Copeland), and it was decided that first and foremost we would endow a scholarship in Jan’s name. The executor and I will be the designated decision makers of the recipient of the yearly scholarship. It was Jan’s wish that the remaining monies be used to enhance the Blytheville High School Scholarship Foundation fund.
“You can imagine the surprise when I announced that the check for the foundation was in the amount of $203,468.59, which later I presented to Dr. Michael Williams.
“Jan Sinclair worked in the Blytheville School District for more than 38 years as both a teacher and a counselor. Her students loved her and she loved BHS. She always said that if you ‘cut her’ she would bleed Maroon and White. Many times on social media a past student will ask the question ‘Who was your favorite teacher at BHS’? Many students that answer are graduates from many years past, and Jan Sinclair's name is always near the top. When Jan died our students and all the students she taught lost a great teacher, a loving counselor and a wonderful friend.”
District director of Curriculum and BHS graduate Sally Cooke remembered Jan Sinclair’s long history with the Blytheville School District. “I remember her as a class sponsor and English teacher when I was in high school in the early 1980’s,” said Cooke. “She was always involved with students and encouraging their success. This endowment is another way to keep that encouragement going.”
“To receive Jan Sinclair’s generous donation for the students of Blytheville High School is a great honor and privilege,” stated Williams. Jan wanted to be certain her educational endeavors would extend beyond the halls of BHS. As a guidance counselor she helped to steer students and tried to encourage them to go to college and further their education. With that kind of preparation Jan continued to think about the students of Blytheville High School.”
With Sinclair’s posthumous contribution the Scholarship Foundation assets now exceed $1 million.