On Monday students at CSAL Middle School in Baton Rouge arrived for standardized testing week. Each of the 279 students testing walked in to a surprise on their desk. A personal note from the principal of the school, LaMont Cole. Pictures of the notes began being shared on social media early Monday morning with people expressing how thoughtful an act it was. One of the notes read, “Alexandria, I am so glad you came to CSAL. You are an outstanding young person to work with. Do your best on testing this week. Good Luck, LaMont Cole.”
Testing can be a stressful time for young people. Cole knows this, he’s been in education for 21 years. Reached by phone late Monday night, The Rouge Collection asked Cole why he decided to write a note to each student on their desk. Cole said, “I wanted my students to know how much I believe in them. I wanted them to know how much I care. They are some pretty amazing young people. I am inspired by them to be a better man. They exhibit so much hope, life and joy, it makes proud I get to work with them each day. I am a lucky man.”
Cole went on to say, “I work with black children who know who they are and where they are going and every day they allow me to be a part of their lives. They accept me for who I am. They don’t judge me. They believe in me. They give me confidence. People have asked how did I, or how could I walk from desk to desk and write personal notes to every child. I respond: with a group of kids like them how could I not? Most kids were surprised. A lot of them were very appreciative, but the most humbling reaction is one young lady told me she would remember my message to her for the rest of her life. For me that’s enough.” Some students didn’t want to erase their notes from their desk before testing began. It meant a lot to many of the students. Joe Clark from, “fair East Side High” on the movie Lean On Me, is what LaMont Cole is to Baton Rouge.
Principal Cole started writing the notes on Sunday afternoon at 2pm and didn’t finish until 12am. He had to be back at the school for 5:30am to get the day started. Cole said, “Honestly I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal.” For LaMont Cole this was like much of everything else does, for the benefit of the people. Principal Cole also serves on the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council. He represents the 7th district, which happens to be the poorest district in Baton Rouge. So he sees what these kids need at every level.
CSAL Middle School has a student population that is 100% black, as well as 100% black teaching staff. The locally ran charter school is the highest performing middle school charter in Baton Rouge, with a 97.4 letter grade B performance score. This is just a good dose of #BlackExcellence to start your week. With educators like LaMont Cole, the babies are in good hands.