2020 Locals Love Us favorite school administrator: Jenifer Neatherlin of Llano High School
Last year, Llano High School Principal Jenifer Neatherlin held a signing day for every senior who had decided where they wanted to attend college.
Signing days are typically held for high school student-athletes to sign their national letters of intent to play for a specific university. But, at Llano, the only qualification for a senior to participate was knowing which college they wanted to attend.
Few enjoyed the event more than the principal herself for one reason. She and her brother are the first in their immediate family to earn college degrees.
“It helps me identify with kids,” she said. “There was no expectation for us to go to college. Nobody talked about college to me. I was gifted and intelligent as a kid.”
Neatherlin, who spent 10 years as a teacher and coach and eight years as an assistant principal or principal, is in her fourth year as Llano High School principal.
She knew she wanted to be a principal early on in life.
“I always gravitated towards that role,” she said. “My teachers were always supportive of me being more.”
She noted that, as a teacher, she saw 140 students a day, but, as a principal, she can influence more than 500 daily.
“I like that, at the high school, everything matters,” she said. “Your grade-point average, sports, UIL, band — everything matters. Everything starts to count.”
While the state of Texas decides curriculum in public schools, Neatherlin saw a gap in education she wanted to address for her seniors. That’s why she created Adulting 101, where seniors learn how to perform tasks such as washing clothes, sewing on buttons, changing a flat tire, becoming a smart shopper, starting a fire in a barbecue pit with wood, and applying for loans.
In addition, Llano students are participating in job shadowing so they can observe professionals in the line of work they are interested in pursing. “It’s been incredible,” she said.
Neatherlin truly believes her role is helping her students see they can be whatever they choose to be.
“Teaching is the profession that creates the other professions,” she said. “You can be a part of something bigger than yourself. Our job is to help them see where they’re strong, where they can contribute, and where they belong.”
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