From public school cleaner to assistant principal, meet Louisiana go-getter Pam Talbert

Michael Eli Dokosi Sep 8, 2019 at 08:00am

September 08, 2019 at 08:00 am | Success Story

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

September 08, 2019 at 08:00 am | Success Story

In the 1990s, Pam Talbert, who is now an assistant principal, cleaned schools and a nursing home before busing students in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pic credit: WBRZ

A Louisiana African-American woman observed she couldn’t help her wards with their homework when it came to reading although she could help them with their math tests.

That realization led her to take a diagnostic test which then revealed that she had a deficiency; she only had a third-grade reading level.

Well, Pam Talbert isn’t a lazy woman and being a mother to three children required work. Thus, she worked as a janitor in schools and nursing homes while serving also as a school bus driver in the 1990s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Although shy in elementary school, making her recoil into her shell and not getting the needed literacy skill, help from her children turned things around for her.

She took remedial courses to get better and her children took it upon themselves to also tutor her in phonics.

Pam Talbert via WBRZ

“They’re my inspiration because they know how hard it was for me,” Talbert said of her daughter and two sons. “I’d sit at the table crying because I couldn’t read the word ‘bear.'”

She said: “I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Southern University and got my first teaching job in 2002”. “I started [teaching] fourth grade.”

She has handled classes of second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh graders. Talbert was also a dean of students and recently began her second year as assistant principal at Istrouma Middle School in Baton Rouge, a school she was once worked as a janitor.

“Looking back, I would’ve never dreamed to be here but I knew I had the drive,” Talbert said. “I had to persevere. It was important that I went to school — then kids wouldn’t go through what I went through if I had leadership to give them the education [they needed].”

Talbert said it’s her students and fellow staff members that make her happy to come to work each day.

“I love the way they’re always willing to learn how to get better not just the students, the faculty,” she said. “I have expectations and they’re doing what they can to make sure no child gets left behind.”

Talbert hopes to open a school for adults and children with literacy issues. Together, she and her eldest son will soon go back to school to earn their PhDs, Talbert said.

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