On Wednesday, Dean of Student Life Raynetta Jackson-Clay, who has worked at Visitation for more than three decades, was honored with the Dan Kerns Salesian Leadership Award. The award, named for former Head of School Dan Kerns, has been presented annually since 2022 to one or more faculty and/or staff members who have demonstrated remarkable dedication to upholding Salesian values and virtues within the school community. Previous winners include Kenny Purcell, Laurie Collins Quirk ‘74, and Amy Devere.
Olivia Wills Kane '85, Director of the St. Jane de Chantal Salesian Center, said, "Salesian leadership is revealed in many ways and is not necessarily connected to a singular position, but more to the ways in which someone influences and inspires in the tradition of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal: showing respect and honor for the individual; embodying gentle strength; valuing personal contact, relationships and community; recognizing the gifts and talents of others and empowering them to share them; cultivating a spiritual life and encouraging it in others; and the striving to do the ordinary, extraordinarily well."
In presenting the award to Mrs. Clay, Mr. Kerns said, "For better than thirty years she has been … the driving force in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment here for students and faculty. This has been her gift to the school community and her legacy at Visitation."
Mrs. Kane shared the insightful words of a colleague who nominated Mrs. Clay for the award: “Visitation would not be who or where we are today without Raynetta. She is the change agent at this school -- always making a positive difference in God's name – and her impact can never be quantified. She has dedicated her life to students and families in an effort to ensure that all have all they need to have a fulfilling and life-giving Visitation experience. … [S]he has helped us become better human beings, teachers, parents, friends, and Christians.”
During her time at Visitation, Mrs. Clay has held several positions: Director of Student Activities, Financial Aid Supplement Fund Coordinator, Diversity Coordinator, and Dean of Student Life. Yet, these titles only hint at the myriad ways she has supported students and the school through the years, whether chaperoning a dance, helping students with their uniforms (she is a master seamstress), leading assemblies, serving on the admissions committee, connecting with alumnae, or helping families in need.
Mrs. Kane emphasized that it is not all she does, but how she does it that distinguishes Mrs. Clay as a Saleisan leader, “Raynetta's leadership is deeply relational and rooted in the Visitandine ministry of presence. She has an amazing way of making us feel not just heard and seen, but treasured. Raynetta also has been entrusted with taking care of so many tender, personal needs of our students, alums and their families because she is a vault of absolute discretion and a wellspring of sacrificial love for her neighbor.”
Mrs. Kane concluded by noting how perfectly Mrs. Clay lives St. Jane’s exhortation to, “[L]ove as Jesus did with a love that is kind, universal, compassionate, courageous, and self-forgetful!”
Congratulations to Mrs. Jackson-Clay!