Thirty Years of Shaping Lives- How Monica Has Made an Impact
When Monica Jestes began her teaching career at SouthSide 30 years ago, she hoped to work with an organization that shared the same passion for children and education philosophy as she had- where the programs focused on the children and the families they served. Monica’s friend, a teacher at SouthSide, then “SouthSide Day Nursery,” had shared numerous stories about the exceptional teaching staff and programs. She invited Monica for a tour of the center and Monica’s heart was stolen that day by the children at SouthSide. Monica knew that SouthSide was right for her and, 30 years later, she still feels the same way - and everyone at SouthSide feels the same way about her!
When the Hearts preschool class was asked what makes Monica so special, the children had the following comments about her.
- “She takes good care of the school.” -Carlos
- “She’s smart.”-Ivan
- “She takes care of the kids and the teachers.”-Luca & Rebekah
- “She’s so good”-Musa
- “She smiles.” –Yuliana
Monica says that throughout her time at SouthSide, the organization has remained true to its mission. “We are still nurturing, educating and inspiring.” Monica says, adding, “I look forward to coming to work every day, seeing the beautiful faces of all of the children and hearing the words ‘Hi Miss Monica!’ which are usually followed by a big hug.”
Over the past 30 years, Monica has worked in nearly every department of the organization. She worked directly with infants, toddlers and preschoolers as a classroom teacher for 15 years. She transitioned into SouthSide’s former Parents as Teachers Coordinator role and worked with the St. Louis Public Schools to coordinate SouthSide’s “Parent as Teachers” program. When that program ended, Monica was asked to serve as the Administrative Assistant and eventually transitioned into her current role as the Office Manager. In her current position, Monica is the glue that holds SouthSide together. She orders diapers, processes payroll, manages SouthSide’s food program and ensures that everything in the organization runs smoothly.
While Monica says she has had so many wonderful memories throughout her time at SouthSide, one of her favorite moments was seeing the new SouthSide Early Childhood Center building on Jefferson Avenue become a reality for the children and families.
From every child, family, volunteer, staff member, board member and donor who has walked through SouthSide’s doors over the past 30 years, thank you for all that you do, Monica. SouthSide would not be the same without you!