Some call them the face of St. Joseph Elementary School, but administrative assistants Jeanine Winkler and Lee Papke are so much more.

“Our school atmosphere and staff morale would not be what it is without these two ladies,” transitional kindergarten aid Riki Albert said. “They are the glue that holds our staff together.”

Mrs. Papke [l.] and Mrs. Winkler [r.] on the first day of the 2018-19 school year.

Together, they mitigate playground boo-boos and permissions slip snafus. They have their eyes, ears, and hands open for every student, teacher, parent, and staff member who needs help. They are keepers of the doors, the keys, the files, the forgotten lunches, and the kids whose parents will be just a few minutes late.

“I couldn’t do my job without them,” principal Sara Myers said. “They work well together. They are really good friends too.”

Jeanine Winkler

“She lets me in the school. ‘Welcome, c’mon in!’”
TK student Sam Miles talking about Mrs. Winkler

Mrs. Winkler has the more public role, greeting parents, students and staff alike.

“Everyone talks to Jeanine,” Mrs. Myers said. “When she hears a family is struggling, she is very thoughtful about what we can do. She has a really big heart.”

More than one person has complimented Mrs. Winkler’s uncanny ability to remember every student’s name.

“She drives that family atmosphere that is such a draw for so many of us for sending our kids there,” BCACS parent Lisa Thomas said.

One of the many wonderful bulletin boards Mrs. Winkler created to welcome our students.

Mrs. Winkler supports the entire BCACS system, including facilitating the Homecoming parade, upholding the celebration of high school students at elementary school Mass, and aiding all staff with their projects.

“She can’t say no to anybody,” Mrs. Papke said. “If anyone calls up and says, ‘Hey, we need help with…’, she’ll say ‘Sure!’.”

“She heals up our boo-boos.”
TK student Harper Zaki talking about Mrs. Winkler

“When someone comes in, and they’re having a bad day…she envelops them in a hug and says, ‘It will be OK. Mrs. Winkler loves you,” Mrs. Papke said.

Mrs. Winkler’s love comes with logic, helping parents decide what their child needs in those “bad day” moments.

“I always trust her judgment on whether someone is just trying to avoid a test or whether they legitimately might need some attention,” Mrs. Thomas said. “She is great with the kids, able to talk them down and get them back in the game.”

“She makes the kids feel loved and that this is their safe place,” TK and preschool teacher Aimee Downey said.

Mrs. Winkler’ level-headed compassion extends to the staff as well.

“Jeanine handles everything with a smile on her face,” fourth-grade teacher Angela Parshall said. “I have asked her a million and one questions, and she has never lost her patience with me.”

Mrs. Winkler helped St. Joe students create this sign for Mrs. Fransisco to celebrate her induction into the St. Philip Athletic Hall of Fame.

“She’s more than a secretary; she is the strength of this school,” preschool teacher Kelly Francisco said. “To me, Jeanine defines our mission statement, she knows the faith, shares the faith and lives the faith.”

Lee Papke

“She is always busy in there!”
TK student Ledger Walsh talking about Mrs. Papke

Mrs. Papke has the quieter role, making sure the paperwork for every student, teacher, staff, and volunteer is in order. She is our school’s Local Agency Security Officer, whose duties include making sure everyone has their fingerprinting and background checks completed.

“I don’t think parents have any idea that Lee is the protector at the gates, that she makes sure everyone does what they need to do to make sure everyone’s children are safe,” Mrs. Winkler said. “It’s not just a job for Lee; it’s her family.”

“Lee keeps us all on task,” Mrs. Downey said. “She is such a sweet person. She cares about all of our lives outside of school.”

“She’s beautiful.”
TK student Harper Zaki talking about Mrs. Papke

Many people have complimented Mrs. Papke’s creative gifts and her generosity in sharing them.

“She’s a very skilled crocheter, and she has made some beautiful things either for gifts or for people who need a pick-me-up,” Myers said.

“She doesn’t ask anything in return,” Mrs. Winkler said. “It will just all of a sudden be sitting on your desk. Just little surprises here and there.”

Mrs. Fransisco recalled the McDonald French Fry hats Mrs. Papke made for the school’s McCare Fundraiser.

One of the McDonald French Fry hats created by Lee Papke for the McCares fundraiser.

“When the kids hit the [fundraising] goal, all the teachers wore the fry hats,” Mrs. Fransisco said. “The kids loved it.”

When BCACS parent Tiffany LaPlante needed helping filling “Bunny Bins” in 2016 for children staying at Bronson hospital over Easter, Mrs. Papke was quick to help.

“Lee generously created hand-made bunnies that Easter which turned into making more animals for Christmas and the following Easter and Christmas as well,” Mrs. LaPlante said. “She has passion for the school and compassion for people.”

Some of the wonderful crocheted toys Mrs. Papke created for children at Bronson Hospital.

Some of our tiniest Tigers drew pictures of Mrs. Winkler and Mrs. Papke, which are easily worth a thousand words. Enjoy!

Choice, challenge, and the St. Joe Book Fairy
Everything you need to know about Homecoming 2018
Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131