New Staff Member Spotlight:

Meet Jenelle Smith



Jenelle has acted in theatrical productions pretty much as long as she can remember, from early childhood through high school and on through university. Since graduating, she’s made the rounds of auditions and landed parts in short films and background work in longer productions — though “nothing big thus far,” she says. 

Meanwhile, she has nourished an educational aspect to her work life, with stints as a preschool teacher, a substitute teacher and as a reading teacher. 

Her family includes a number of educators. Other family members are in business. 

She’s the only one with show business aspirations. Jenelle laughs. “I’m the oddball.”

We shall see. She certainly is showing the kind of drive it takes to make it in that highly-competitive realm: she has written and will direct and star in her own short film with production targeted for November.

She points out that with acting, “It’s hard to break through, but if I give myself the opportunity, I’ll show I’m not just waiting.”

Jenelle’s perseverance as well as her faith were strengthened at Oaks, which brings up a couple of key connections to her new Ascension community.

“When I was a sophomore in high school, that’s when I first met Mr. Gregory, who taught my Bible class,” she says of Ascension Lutheran School Principal Rich Gregory. 

Jenelle’s mother works at Oaks, and her sister is an alumna of Oaks, too.

“My mom told me when Mr. Gregory was first hired here. I knew that the school was going to be so blessed by having him as principal and I knew he had such great character and had such a heart for the Lord. It has certainly been a blessing to get to see him every week again!

Another relationship that began at Oaks is Jenelle’s association with her new office mate Diane Kusnierek. 

“Debra Kusnierek and my older sister went to Oaks together and they’re best friends, like sisters. I know the Kusnierek family is such a lovely family. You definitely see the light of the spirit in that family,” says Jenelle, who is a member of California Community Church in Agoura Hills. “I thought if everyone at Ascension is like the Kusniereks, what a blessing it will be to work there.”

As for what she would like to say about herself or just in general to anyone reading this interview, Jenelle is quick to refer to scripture. Sharing scripture is “a special thing,” she likes to do, and a regular part of her life. 

She thinks for a moment. “I know. Psalm 71:14. ‘As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.’

“No matter how bad things get, or where I am in life, there’s always a reason to hope in the Lord…It gives someone life when they feel they don’t have much left to go off of.”

Bringing people closer to God — Jenelle Smith is a natural.