Jan Pickering named sixth Cornerstone

WILLIAMSTOWN – Jan Pickering of Williamstown is the sixth “Cornerstone of Our Community” named by Our Community’s Foundation-Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates through its 50th anniversary awards sponsored by Superior Toyota. Pickering receives a gold Fenton vase and the honor of awarding $1,000 for charitable purposes.

Judy Sjostedt, foundation executive director, said, “A cornerstone is that fundamental building block on which a foundation is set. Jan has a long history of encouraging arts in our schools. She created a lasting and comprehensive program of strings education in the Williamstown and Waverly schools and was chosen in the fields of “education” and “music.””

For most of the decade prior to 2000, Pickering nurtured a visual arts program that traveled within Wood County Schools. About 13 years ago, after attending a workshop, Pickering was inspired to bring violin lessons to local schoolchildren and the school agreed it was a wonderful idea, according to a news release.

“I told the school if it would buy the instruments, then I would teach the kindergarteners,” Pickering said. “Our pilot year students are now seniors!”

Pickering credits the ongoing success of the program she established to the support she receives. “It’s not just me! Holly Cornell has assisted me in class for 12 years now and the administration, PTA and parents I work with are all wonderful.”

In any given year, about 140 students from grades 2-12 benefit from participating in the Williamstown Strings Program (serves Waverly also) and another organization Pickering was key in launching, the Evergreen Youth Strings.

“We’re volunteers so we have to teach before school and during recess,” Pickering explains. “We want the interest to be sparked in the students and it’s up to the parents to allow them to participate.” Pickering’s nominators estimate that in addition to working constantly to secure resources for the program, she volunteers at least 20 hours each week for up to 40 weeks every year. They note that she’s done so for over ten years.

For enriching the lives of more than 600 children over a multi-year period, Pickering’s dedication to sharing music has earned her recognition as a Cornerstone of Our Community.