Everybody has a story, and the lovely and amazing Ms. Faye Monson is no exception – except that she is exceptional! She has spent a lifetime making the lives of others better through her kindness, good deeds and hard work. She began her long career of serving others through work immediately after graduating Good Pine High School, and at eighty-three years young, has yet to find a stopping place – and may never find it.
Ms. Faye was born and raised in LaSalle Parish in the Rhinehart area. Her parents, Mr. Grant and Mrs. Ocie Cooper taught her the value of giving your best to whatever you find yourself doing through their dedication and commitment to their family. Mr. Grant was both a carpenter and a farmer, raising a variety of farm animals including hogs, chickens and cows, and Mrs. Grant worked at Good Pine High School in the cafeteria, cooking and serving lunches to the students. Her daughter recalls her mama being readily available at the school.
“Mama worked at the school in the cafeteria so I knew if I got into trouble, she would be close by,” she recalled. “One time a couple of boys were agitating me, and I asked them to stop. We got into a fist fight – and I wasn’t afraid – and needless to say when we got home, Mama administered punishment with a peach tree switch.” That was one of the many benefits of having your mama working close by and peach trees growing just outside of the front door of your home!
School back then was much different from school today, with a few exceptions. Ms. Faye and her classmates were educated in the era before schools were integrated and their memories of growing up and being educated together are fondly recalled. The school served children in first through twelfth grades and today that same facility, Good Pine Middle School, is an important treasure for all of those from that bygone era.
“Teachers back then were still allowed to make learning fun,” Ms. Faye shared. “They had time to teach and make sure that you understood and got the lesson. They could also paddle you – can I mention that?”
Ms. Faye recalled her principal, Mr. Britton, who was a fair man – a man who’d walk very quietly down the school halls and could appear before you knew he was there. She also recounted fond memories of her teachers including Mrs. Fannie Freeman, Ms. Callaway and Mrs. Holly. She shared the memories of school lunches that were not so different from the ones students experience today and remembered that her school had no plates to eat from and each student was required to supply his or her own. They also had to wash the plate after lunch and bring it back the next day!
Her educational years had a lasting influence on her career choices later on. After high school, she took various jobs cleaning homes, as job opportunities for young women in the late fifties were few and far between. She enrolled at Grambling State University and attended for two years pursuing a degree in bookkeeping – but that course was altered when she met and married a young man she met at Randolph Air Force Base. They had two sons, Robert and Alex.
It was just a matter of a few short years that Ms. Faye found herself back at Good Pine High School, working in the same cafeteria and cooking meals for the school’s students just as her mama did those many years ago. She seemed destined to be a part of the school community, in spite of a twentytwo- and-a-half-year detour working at the Beldon Plant in Jena. Once again, her path in life led her back to school, this time working with Mrs. Annie Riser in a Pre-K class full of four-yearolds, and eventually, at seventy-years-old, working in the Pre-K classrooms at Jena Elementary school as a paraprofessional with teacher Amy Poole Pardue. During her seventeen year stay at JES, she simultaneously held jobs at Wal Mart and had a bakery business. Incidentally, her nephew, Anthony Jackson, later became an educator and principal at Jena High School.
“The teacher and I had a lot of special needs children, and my favorite memories are of those students,” Ms. Faye fondly said. “I danced with them, compelled them to get up and do things with the other students. I can’t remember all their names, but I enjoyed all of them. Some just took your heart away.”
Ms. Faye’s kind hands and patient smiles made a lasting difference in the lives of many children during her tenure as a paraprofessional. She not only tended to their physical and educational needs, she also tended to their hearts.
Today, this amazing ‘young’ lady is still going strong. She retired from Beldon after twenty-two years. She retired from the LaSalle Parish School Board after seventeen years, then got another job – this time at The Jena Band of Choctaw, where she was recently awarded Employee of the Month – no small surprise. She moves around the facility like a young twenty something year old! She still bakes cakes for those who need them and she continues to wear a lovely smile and to speak with a kind, soft voice.
As for words of wisdom, Ms. Faye Monson has a few to pass on.
“Treat everybody the way you want to be treated. Be fair. Be honest. Don’t be quick to judge a person. Put God as the first person and the head in your life and serve Him. Keep on the right path and learn to listen to your elders and attend church as often as you can,” she said with conviction.
Ms. Faye Monson has lived a blessed life as per her testimony. She has also been very good to others, and if you happen to meet one of those people, they will assure you she has.
“I can’t complain,” she said. “God has been good to me.”
Ms. Faye till passes that goodness on to anyone and everyone who knows her. In one word she is ‘amazing’ and it appears her kindness and vitality still have much to give!