The world of Nevils Elementary School begins and ends for every visitor, be they kindergarteners or grandparents, at the school's front office. There, they are greeted by the school's secretary Charlene Robbins.
Robbins is the daughter of Eugene and Kathleen Mincey of Brooklet, and she is married to Ray Robbins, who works at Claxton Poultry. She has two sisters: Debbie, and Sandy.
She and her husband have three children: Candi Partridge, and Joni and Bobby Robbins. She went to Brooklet Elementary, and then attended Southeast Bulloch's Junior and Senior High Schools.
She has 'womanned' the front office's front widow for some 14 years now, and has become like family to generations of Nevils children, faculty, and staff.
There are many members of the Nevils staff with whom Robbins has worked the entire time she's been at Nevils, including Kathy Anderson, Pam Goodman, Lisha Nevil and Donna Howard.
In fact, Robbins came to Nevils to be a 'parapro', and worked with Howard for one and one-half weeks until they moved her to the secretary's job when it opened up suddenly.
Principal Julie Blackmar said, “People tell me we have the friendliest front office, and they tell me its because the way Charlene greets them and makes them feel at home.”
Also, Robbins doesn't limit her assistance to school matters alone. She said she has regularly dealt with issues such as parents or staff with flat tires, and more.
“I never heard her say no when asked to help, so one day she may be 'Nurse Charlene' and then the next day who-knows-what she may be running off to do,” Blackmar said.
Sherri Bird, who has worked as bookkeeper at Nevils for four years, said: “She is an implacable force. No matter how hectic it gets, no matter what's thrown at her, Charlene handles it with the greatest of aplomb.”
Bird agreed with Blackmar's appraisal, adding that “Charlene is the greatest pleasure to work with, and she is a true friend to everyone no matter whether or not its at work or away from the school.”
Asked about what has given her the greatest joy at school, Robbins got red-faced and said quietly, “My church, Emit Grove Baptist, is the ‘Backpack Buddies’ sponsor for the school, and it is such a blessing being able to see to it that our kids get at least some of what they need.”
Moving into the new school a few years ago, Robbins admitted was bittersweet, as the old school held so many fond memories. Having gotten used to the new building, she said, “It’s amazing to reflect back on how well we had done before with so little.”