Sara Jolie: In her second act as SHHS educator

Published 7:04 am Thursday, July 13, 2023

For the past 23 years, Sara Abbott Jolie has dedicated her time, energy and skills to Sam Houston High School.

In 2000, she got hired on as the family and consumer science teacher and remained in that role for 14 years. As the family and consumer science teacher, she taught SHHS students about applicable life skills, such as parenthood education, nutrition and food, housing and interior design and career and technical education.

Her goal, she said, was to give students the vital life skills that they could carry with them forever. “Through 14 years of family and consumer science classes, my students learned independence, goal setting skills, responsibility, how to care for their families and the importance of becoming productive citizens of our community.

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She knows she did her job well; her former students reach out. “It is extremely rewarding to hear from these same ‘kids’ 20 years later, how they are still using their family and consumer science skills.”

After getting certified in library science from McNeese State University, she moved into the role of library media specialist, and has been there ever since. She considers her current era the second act of her career.

“Act II has afforded me the opportunity to not only continue teaching, but to reach even more students … and to play a more active role in our school community as a high school librarian.”

She has made it a mission to make the library a hub for all facets of education. “I take pride in the Bronco Library being an accessible, welcoming environment with a diverse collection of materials to inspire our students to read.”

A primary focus for Jolie (and the advice that she gives to her fellow teacher) is to be aware of the humanity of her students “They will sit in your classroom on good days and bad, just like you.”

“You have the power to lift up the most defeated kid, aid the neediest kid and celebrate the successes with all your kids, because they will become your kids.”

She is currently in 3 school leadership positions: Peer Initiated Leader of Tomorrow (PILOT), Peer Support Team Advisor and Co-founder Big Sam’s Closet. Though she is a leader, she attributes the success of these programs to the students who participate.

PILOT is a Calcasieu Parish School Board student-led teen suicide prevention advocacy group program that creates safe spaces for students facing challenges that no teen should have to experience. “Within SHHS’s PILOT Club and Peer Support Team, members will discover a place where all students are not only welcomed and respected but will experience a totally unique group of students who strive to educate, advocatenand provide support to those struggling with mental illness, suicidal thoughts, bullying, etc.,” she said.

The group was inspired by “the actions of a SHHS student who took it upon himself to support his classmates safety after they lost a peer to suicide.”

“These amazing and selfless students save teen lives through a combination of peer support, awareness, education, advocacy and community outreach.”

In January of this year, PILOT became a non-profit organization.

She co-founded Big Sam’s Closet to provide SHHS students with necessary supplies anonymously. The program provides students with food, school supplies, uniforms and hygiene products. The Library Leadership students at the school manage the pantry, stocking, organizing and distributing supplies.

She said that through partnership with DeWanna’s Closet, Food for Thought, the Lake Charles Junior League and the school’s community, the Closet has never run dry, since 2015.

Prior to her time at SHHS, Jolie worked at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital Child Development Center for six months as a pre-kindergarten teacher.

She attended SHHS herself, and graduated in 1993. She then attended and graduated from McNeese and earned her vocational home economics certification in 1999.