Community champions: Jan Byrd
Choosing joy and working for the glory of God
By Lauren Jackson
Photo by Rachel Howard
“My life verse is whatever I do in word or deed, I do to the glory of God. So if I am at work, I try not to find my identity in my job or at church. I try to do what I do every day as if I am working for the Lord.”
Jan Byrd holds a variety of important positions around the community and the state – someone who stays busy serving others. She is the administrative assistant to the superintendent at Hartselle City Schools and serves as the contemporary worship leader at the First Baptist Church. She also helped start and plays an active role in the Alabama Association of Administrative Assistants, a group for other superintendent assistants to network and take part in professional development.
She has lived in Morgan County for more than 30 years. She married a Hartselle City Schools graduate, and she is a mother to two boys and, most recently, a grandmother to a new grandson. Byrd has been married to her husband for 35 years, having met him while she and her family traveled throughout the Southeast singing Christian music.
“His best friend brought him to one of our singings, and I met him that night. A month later, he came to another singing that we had, and we have been together ever since,” Byrd said.
Byrd’s love of music is something she continues to use in her community today as the contemporary worship leader at the First Baptist Church. She has recorded several albums and videos and plays various instruments – including the keyboard, organ, bass guitar and drums.
Prior to serving in the worship leader position, she played bass guitar at another church. She said she was trying to assist First Baptist in finding a worship leader but was offered the position instead.
“I have been on a worship team I feel like for all of my life,” she said. “I was one of the base players at Church of the Highlands in the Huntsville campus and learned a lot there, and it stretched me a lot. That is where the interest came for First Baptist to talk to me.
“I was asking them questions about their vision and why they wanted to start a contemporary service and that kind of thing, so I would know someone to recommend to them. I had a couple of names in my head, but they kept asking me questions about what I had done. Then they called and said, ‘Jan, we want you,’ and it has worked well,” Byrd said.
Similarly, Byrd found herself in her current position as administrative assistant to the superintendent after volunteering in the schools for many years and working her way up through various positions. She started by volunteering in the schools while her boys were younger. She soon began substitute teaching, and then she was hired as an aide. She next worked as bookkeeper at the junior high before landing at her current position at the central office. She said working in this role is something she had never imagined.
“I thought when I got the job as bookkeeper that that was where I would retire,” she said. I loved the people. I worked with Mr. Pouncey. He was the one that hired me, and we got along great, and I absolutely loved working there. I really thought I would retire there.
Instead, “here I am, just about to start my 13th year in this position.”
Byrd takes on a variety of tasks each day with Hartselle City Schools. She said her main goal is to try to help others as much as possible.
“I wear many hats at the school; it depends what month it is,” she said. “Of course I am the superintendent’s assistant, and I do the scheduling. I am also the board secretary, so I do the board postings. I also do HR, and I do the files and help teachers with recert renewals. We start all the student enrollment at the central office, so I help with that and out–of–district students. I just try to just be there for whoever needs something.”
To Byrd, Hartselle is a special community made up of incredible neighbors.
“Hartselle is full of servants. They serve their community, their families, their schools and the places they work with 110 percent,” Byrd said. “The majority of the people love their families, but they also want to help their neighbors and make life better for their neighbors. It really is a city of hospitality.”
In her free time, Byrd said she enjoys sewing, cooking and music. She said cooking is especially sentimental for her, having catered for weddings with her mother for several years. “After she passed away, it’s just not quite as fun, but I still love to cook – and of course music; I have always loved music,” Byrd said.
On any given day, Byrd said she tries to live her life to build up those around her. She said she looks at it as a big decision that can be made each day.
“Happiness depends on what is happening around you, but you have to choose to be joyful. I try to be joyful and I try to encourage,” she said. I tell my team all the time that you have to choose joy.”