Biggs retires after 31 years at George P. Austin

Published 6:29 pm Friday, February 12, 2010

For more than 31 years, Jenice Biggs has been the go-to person for principals, teachers and staff members, serving as the secretary at George P. Austin Junior High School. On Feb. 1, she put an end to a career that spanned three superintendents and four principals.

“I first began working at Austin Elementary School,” she said. “I had worked three years at Selma University in the office of financial aid, so I have about 41 years of secretarial work.

“I think it’s my God-given gift, because I am the secretary at my church, and I’ve been there longer than I’ve been at the school system. I’ve been the secretary for a number of organizations. I don’t know why everybody thinks I can write. I cannot write, but I can keep up with things, I guess.”

Email newsletter signup

A native of Washington County, Biggs came to Linden after she married her husband, Nathaniel.

“I’ve always had good employers,” she said. “They were nice, compassionate, kind. The teachers were good; we had a nice relationship. It was a joy. And, I’ve had a good relationship with all the students. They were always a joy to me, and they kept me feeling young.

“I never got bored on the job; working at a school is always lively. I just loved the system, because it was small, close-knit, and everybody cared for everybody, and everybody was friendly.”

Her last principal, Terry Gosa, had nothing but good things to say about her.

“Outstanding. Exceptional,” he said. “She has been an extension of the administration here. She was here many years before I got here, and she helped me get my bearings…and learn the system as it was in place. She was a godsend for me when I came here six years ago.

“She is cordial, pleasant, professional and community-oriented. She knew the parents and grandparents and knew the community. I’ve been whining for two months now (about Biggs retiring) — just lamenting what I’m going to do. I’ve got good help here now, though, with Taisha Thompson, who is subbing temporarily.”

Biggs retired not because of her age, but because of health problems.

Now retired, she will have her back taken care of, then do volunteer work for the school.

“I would go back and volunteer to run off papers and do errands, fix the bulletin boards and things like that,” she said. “That would help relieve the teachers and give them a break sometimes. If I can get to the point where I can walk and move better, I plan to do that and do volunteer work at the church.”

The oldest of eight children, Biggs has two stepchildren, Lakeshia Irby and Nathan Irby.

“I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such a distinguished school system,” she said. “I worked under three superintendents, and they were all nice, and I’ve had four principals. My last one, Mr. Gosa, was just like an angel. You hardly know he’s your boss. He just leaves it up for you to do.”

For 31 years, Jenice Biggs has helped keep George P. Austin running smoothly, doing the jobs that many school secretaries deal with from day to day. She will be missed day to day, but don’t be surprised if you see her back in the halls sometime soon.