Real champions inspire us because we know they give everything to make a difference. Through this column, we are helping make known real champions in the lives of children and youth. At NCUST, we are thankful for all the many equity champions who are, each day, changing lives, changing schools, and changing communities.
With a love for school that began in her childhood, Principal Mailhiot recalls living in the library and eagerly helping her mother, also an educator, set up her classroom. Now in her thirteenth year as an educator, Principal Mailhiot’s dedication and love for education continue to blossom. Mailhiot and her colleagues are proud recipients of last year’s NCUST America’s Best Urban Schools Award. At the time of the award, Mailhiot was serving as the principal of James DeAnda Elementary in the Houston Independent School District in Texas. She was recently promoted to serve as principal of Reagan K-8 Middle School, also in the Houston Independent School District.
From her time working for Teach for America, to her years teaching fifth-grade students, to her impressive tenure as principal at James DeAnda Elementary, Ms. Mailhiot has worked diligently to better the lives of countless students. She credits her successes to strong and fearless teamwork, dedicated colleagues, and a vibrant curriculum that resonates with her diverse student population and prepares them for leadership in the world. To illustrate the power of the curriculum, she described the human rights assignment one of her teacher’s (Ms. Ryall) gave students. She explained, “Students were instructed to create poster boards depicting topics related to a human rights issue. With Martin Luther King Jr. detailed on one side of a group’s board, I was impressed to see the LGBTQ+ community depicted on the other side. The young group impressively drew distinctions between two different human rights groups, issues, and eras.” Teaching and fostering this ability to think and learn with a multifaceted outlook is central to Mailhiot’s professional beliefs and practices.
When asked about tips for fellow school principals, Mailhiot emphasized getting to know your campus and community so you can craft a mission and vision for the campus that will engage everyone in driving the work. She noted that it is equally important to balance your own life and stay grounded in your work. As the school year begins, Mailhiot has several goals for the months ahead. While working through the uncertainties and challenges of COVID-19, she hopes to add structure for the students of Reagan K-8 Middle School as they return to an in-person classroom format in the coming weeks. This involves fostering organic teaching methods, learning methods, and social and emotional relationships. COVID-19 has significantly challenged the structures and lives of our education system and educators. Principal Mailhiot acknowledges and praises everyone working in education despite these obstacles. Pushing through these challenging times and working as a team to support students and families will improve the course of lives in ways we may never fully grasp.
-Sarah Van Hoose
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