Jennifer Barkis

Jennifer coordinates, plans and executes all activities related to the Preschool, and provides teacher training. Email:

Where did you grow up and how did you make your way to Austin?
I grew up in the small southeast Texas town of Liberty. I have one older sister and two younger brothers. My parents are from West (by God) Virginia, so I love a good hillbilly joke! I married Art Barkis in 1992, and we moved to Austin in 1994 when he was transferred for work from Houston.

What is your former work experience?
Prior to working at Oak Hill UMC, I was a stay-at-home mom to Emma, Dru, and Lucy. Before we began our family, I worked in an orthopedic practice and completed my master’s degree at the “Harvard of the Hill Country”—Texas State University. I earned my bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University. My field of study was community health education.

When did you start at Oak Hill UMC?
I first began working at Oak Hill UMC in 2002 as the nursery coordinator. In 2004 I began teaching in the Kid’s Day Out program. Then, in 2005, I began teaching in the preschool. I was hired as the director of preschool ministries in December 2015.

What are your primary duties?
As the director of preschool ministries I am responsible for the successful operation of the preschool. This includes, but not limited to, hiring and training new staff members, complying with Texas Minimum Standards, and welcoming new families and children to our preschool family.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
My favorite part of the day is when I am greeting students and their parents at the front door as they enter the building to go to school.

How does your position help minister to others?
We have new families who come to our preschool who do not already have a church home. I am able to invite them to attend church events that are offered throughout the year. For some parents, when their child is happy and feels safe at Oak Hill UMC, they will take that opportunity to begin attending worship service.

What is one thing that few people know about you?
My favorite princess is Snow White, and when I was a child I had two Snow White-themed birthday parties!

Describe Oak Hill UMC in one word.