SWANZEY CENTER — Jeannine Leclerc is in her 26th year with the Monadnock Regional School District, and says she always strives to incorporate substance-abuse prevention into her lessons.
And now, Leclerc — who works in Monadnock’s newly created wellness-integrationist role and serves on a regional youth coalition focused on prevention efforts — is garnering statewide recognition for her work.
According to a news release this week, she won the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Operation Engage Excellence in Leadership Award. Leclerc received the honor during Red Ribbon Week, the nation’s oldest and largest substance-abuse prevention awareness program, which this year took place from Oct. 23-31.
“I was surprised,” Leclerc, 57, of Keene said of the honor. “... If it brings attention and awareness and focus to what everybody’s doing, I’m thankful to receive it for that reason.”
Peter Sebert, who works with Leclerc on the Monadnock Youth Coalition through his job as Keene Family YMCA’s community coalition director, nominated her for the award.
“Jeannine has worked tirelessly for years to provide students in the Monadnock school district prevention curriculum, and activities,” Sebert said in the release. “Over the past two years this has become very challenging as education models have been ever changing.”
Leclerc, who is also a local yoga instructor, activist and civic volunteer, was one of 13 people in New Hampshire to win the award from the DEA’s Operation Engage, a nationwide prevention initiative that launched its Granite State chapter in February.
In an interview this week, Sebert said when members of the Monadnock Youth Coalition learned earlier this year that one person from the Monadnock Region would receive the award, they unanimously agreed to nominate Leclerc.
“There was universal agreement that she should be the representative of our region,” he said.
Before starting her current role in the Monadnock district — which covers Fitzwilliam, Gilsum, Richmond, Roxbury, Swanzey and Troy — Leclerc held a variety of jobs within the schools, she said, primarily teaching health and wellness classes. As the wellness integrationist, she works with staff and administration to incorporate those topics into every teacher’s curriculum.
As for the award, Leclerc said it presents another opportunity to continue the often challenging work of substance-abuse prevention.
“The more uncomfortable conversations we have the better,” she said. “It’s really about raising awareness.”