New Schools for Baton Rouge is proud to highlight educators and partners that work to ensure every child in Baton Rouge has access to high-quality education.
In this educator spotlight, we profile Juaquita Sims, Principal at Glen Oaks Middle – a Redesign School. Juaquita firmly believes that all students can grow and thrive when their individual needs are met.
What drew you to education?
What first drew me to education was my own k-12 education. Though I went to 13 different schools, one thing remained constant – the opportunity to be away from home and gain knowledge. Home wasn’t the most emotionally safe place, so I found safety in books and learning. I became addicted to the comfort it gave me emotionally and I’ve never left it. When I became an adult and started facing some challenges, I returned to college and returned to what kept me safe throughout my childhood – education.
How do you celebrate Black Excellence in the classroom?
I celebrate “Black Excellence” by celebrating learning. Not just core curriculum learning, but learning how to treat people, learning how to be self-sufficient and independent. I pour confidence, trust, compassion, accountability, and efficacy into every student, every day. I celebrate their presence. I celebrate their ownership in their own future.
What inspires you on a daily basis about education in Baton Rouge?
What inspires me every day about education in Baton Rouge is the untapped potential. I was born and raised in Atlanta, but Baton Rouge has been my home for the past 5 years. This city has so much more to offer itself. I am honored to be able to expose my students to so many different opportunities to be a catalyst for change in their home city. Atlanta is huge and overcrowded and there’s not much room for fresh talent/ideas. Baton Rouge, on the other hand, is a blossoming city and change is on the horizon. I tell my 14-year-old students that I’m preparing them for those worlds because they will be voting in the next election cycle!
What makes you hopeful about the future?
What makes me hopeful about the future is the strength of mind and the resilience of my students. Some of my students are already bearing burdens that no child should have to bear. Remaining steadfast in their education through situations like the 2016 flood and the 2020 Pandemic is a true testament to their ability to persevere through adversity. When I see people like Kamala Harris and John Lewis and Oprah Winfrey and Colin Kaepernick, and Percy Miller (Master P), I say to myself, “all of those people passed through someone’s middle school.” When I see videos like Jay-Z thanking his former elementary school teacher, when I see Amanda Gorman at the Inauguration of the President of the United States of America, I am hopeful. All of those people were challenged and/or encouraged by an educator.