February 26, 2024

Black History Month Feature: Monique Jolla

What drew you to a career in education advocacy and community and family engagement?

I have worked in the education field for over 20 years. I've had the pleasure to work in diverse backgrounds, which includes roles in various sectors of education ranging from In-school positions like pre-k teacher, family advocate, and youth counselor to statewide and community positions such as implementing summer literacy programs,  enrollment and marketing director for charter schools and the position I currently hold as Director of Family and Community Initiatives at The Center for Literacy & Learning. I was your ideal child, and when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "A teacher" was always my response! Education was always at the forefront of my household growing up. My mother was the "room mother" for me, my siblings, and all the children in our family, including my daughter. My mother's involvement in the school community undoubtedly played a crucial role in instilling a sense of importance and dedication to education in me.  

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month in our classrooms and communities?  

Children need to see a positive and influential presentation of themselves, but for us as the generation before them to plant seeds that they, too, are black history. Black History Month provides an opportunity to highlight Black individuals’ achievements, contributions, and resilience throughout history. It allows Black students to see themselves reflected positively in the curriculum, which can boost their self-esteem and sense of identity. Our ancestors have paved the way, allowing us to live the dreams that they fought for centuries. That segregated school, that choice school, that right to speak, have a voice and a seat at the table to make decisions are all the reasons we must continue to educate and empower our youth on the history but also the endless possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead of them. It serves as a reminder of the progress made and the ongoing fight for justice and equality. While history is happening daily, sharing my story, I get to participate in initiatives that celebrate Black history. Who knew this "BLACK" girl who grew up in the heart of north Baton Rouge, attending prominent black public schools, would contribute to the ongoing legacy of progress and empowerment for future generations?

What are your hopes for the future of education in Baton Rouge?

I can only dream that we continue to make positive strides in education. By recognizing the importance of continuous growth and development, Baton Rouge can build upon its successes and address challenges effectively. Acknowledging the shift from parental involvement to family engagement underscores the importance of holistic student support. We, the community, school leaders, teachers, school staff, parents, and family members, are ALL responsible for the future of education. Embracing this shift will enhance student outcomes and well-being. Literacy has been and will continue to be the key that drives the success of our students in the classroom and at home. Emphasizing literacy as a cornerstone of education highlights its fundamental role in academic success and lifelong learning. By prioritizing literacy initiatives and providing resources to support reading and writing skills, we can empower students to thrive academically and beyond. I will continue to do my part by equipping our families with the resources and tools to advocate for their children, creating a supportive environment where every child can succeed.  

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education"

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