Whenever someone ventures into the Middle School, they will always receive the kindest greeting from the Middle School Secretary, who also happens to be my mother, Elisabeth Jacobs. Jacobs has been the self-described “Middle School Mom” for three years. Prior to working in the Middle School, Jacobs was an Admissions Office Assistant and the school’s receptionist, based in the Development Office next to the Cougar Shop.
Collegiate is not unfamiliar territory for Jacobs. She attended Collegiate from kindergarten to fourth grade, then attended Byrd Middle School (now Quioccasin) and Freeman High School, where she met her husband, my father, local business owner Andy Jacobs. She returned when it was time for her first child, Alex Jacobs (‘14), to start kindergarten. “I had heard and remembered Collegiate being a good school,” Jacobs recalled, “I loved hearing the then-seniors talk about [Collegiate] at the Kindergarten open house. They seemed so smart and self assured, that made me think that this was the place I wanted to send my children.” She fell in love with the community and sent her next child, me, to kindergarten at Collegiate, and eventually she started to get involved in any way she could.
Twelve years later, Jacobs has found her home at the front desk of the Middle School, next to long-time friend Cathy Kirchmier (84’). “Working with Elisabeth every day, since I have known her since she was thirteen years old, is a hoot!” said Kirchmier, when asked about working with Jacobs. “She is always doing something; somebody always needs something, it’s never a dull moment.” The two are always smiling, laughing, and having a great time–creating a wonderful space for any Middle Schooler to feel welcome.
Jacobs and Kirchmier are, literally, at the center of the Middle School. They can find where every Middle Schooler is, or where they are supposed to be, in the span of about thirty seconds. They are a dynamic duo and the backbone of the Middle School: organized, friendly, and all-knowing.
Jacobs’ favorite part of her job is being with the Middle Schoolers. Every quiet moment at dinner each night in the Jacobs’ household is promptly filled with story after story of funny moments of the Middle School. I think I might be the only senior who truly feels like she is still in Middle School.
Students love Jacobs just as much as she does them. I asked a lunch table what they think of her, and their responses did not surprise me: “Mrs. Jacobs is the nicest and most understanding person I have ever met,” Sammy T. (‘21) excitedly told to me. Caitlin W. (‘21) wanted to jump in next, “She is the best secretary I have ever seen,” and thanks to Charlie K. (‘21) I know “she always has the right information, and always knows what she needs to do.” Charlie is right; Jacobs always knows the right information, an essential part of her job.
When asked why she switched from the Admissions Office to the Middle School, Jacobs said that she “wanted the opportunity to interact with kids every day.” As an Admissions Office Assistant, Jacobs kept a bowl of candy on her desk in hopes of getting to interact with more children. She rarely catches a break, but she never complains. Jacobs loves the constant hustle and bustle of the Middle School, even if she occasionally can not get everything done that she would like to do.
A recurring theme about Jacobs when any Middle Schooler talks about her is her kindness, which I know of firsthand. From 7:00 a.m., when she makes sure I am awake and getting up for school, to about 9:00 p.m., when she tells me good night, she has a smile on her face. She is one of the few people who can calm me down when I am feeling stress, and she would happily drive two hours to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia to pick up my brother’s laundry if he asked her to do so.
As I type this, Jacobs is sitting in the chair next to me planning dinner for the week, asking for my opinions, and giving the list to my father for a final review. She makes herself laugh by drawing pictures next to the food, as my father tries to figure out these hieroglyphics. Jacobs’ positivity and ability to laugh through live is what makes her such a great role model and Middle School celebrity. Her living motto is simply, “Be nice,” something that everyone can take and use in their own lives.
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Jacobs.