Spotlights
FACE of the Week: Monik Rolling, President of the Deer Park Elementary School PTA
As part of BCPS’ commitment to ongoing Family And Community Engagement, the “FACE of the Week” is a new, regular feature of the BCPS website that introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS special – our volunteers and PTA members.
11/06/2015

Spotlight

With all of it – five children in four different schools, working toward dual degrees in healthcare administration and business management, managing Girl Scout cookie distribution for much of northwest Baltimore County, serving as Daisy Leader for a "high-spirited" troop of Brownies, a heavy work schedule for her church – with all of that – you might think Mônik Rolling wouldn’t have the time or energy left to devote to being president of the Deer Park Elementary School PTA.

And you would be wrong.

"Nikki" Rolling always has time for children, she says, and she thinks other parents should, too. "If we can get to addressing many of the issues that children have when they are young, if we can pay attention and work with them early, then I believe we can avoid having to deal with problems later," the Randallstown resident says. "It’s worth it, because the way I see it, I’m investing in my children."

Rolling, whose own children range in age from 7 to 20, stepped up to become president of the Deer Park PTA in September as a way of better engaging parents in the education of their children. When she enrolled her son and daughter, Javon and Januairre, at Deer Park Elementary in March, she didn’t think twice about joining the PTA and, at Back to School night this year, taking its reins.

"A lot of parents tell me they have no idea what goes on in their child’s classroom," she says. "I want to know. I want to keep an eye on my kids and what they are doing. I want to be involved so I can have an educated voice. . . . And I want to make a difference."

Deer Park Principal Renee Jenkins has no doubts about that. "Her goal is to support the school in any way she can, and she does just that," Jenkins says. "I know great things will be happening with the PTA under her leadership."

Rolling, 41, says the PTA should be an advocate for the entire school community – administrators, teachers, parents, and especially students. "I want the parents to know that some of these teachers love your children as much as you do, and they want to see them succeed, too. I want parents to get involved in seeing and learning that," she says.

"I want . . . to reintroduce a greater sense of responsibility, commitment, and involvement in parents, while also encourage, lift up, and unite educators, to re-create a sense of community that is often missing in our society today," she says. "To quote an old adage I believe is very true – ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ And far too many times, the village just does not show up. I want to change that, or at least begin changing it."

A Grandfather’s Gift

Being busy and being involved has always been a part of Rolling’s DNA, but she adopted both her can-do spirit and her focus on children early. A Baltimore native, she idolized her grandfather as a young girl and learned from him lifelong lessons in perseverance and fortitude. He had first come to the United States as a German-Irish immigrant from Pakistan; injuries he sustained in a fire in Pakistan led to paralysis and prompted the move to Baltimore for treatment, she says.

"He could hardly move. He had to sit like this," she says, locking her own frame into a rigid, slanted straight line in a chair. "And yet he became a successful furniture maker – he had a place at the corner of Greenmount and 33rd in the city – and he raised nine kids. He passed when I was nine years old, but he provided for my grandmother until she passed (decades later)."

A graduate of Baltimore City College, where she says she instituted peer tutoring and a Big Brother/Big Sister program for younger students, Rolling says her first passion was health care. A graduate of honors programs in pre-med and psychology from the University of Maryland – Eastern Shore, Rolling began to develop an abiding love of children during a volunteer stint at the Wyman Park Medical Center.

"It was heartbreaking at the time to see all these babies being born with so many problems, so many born HIV-positive, for instance," she says of her emergence as an advocate. "No one wanted to touch them. No one wanted to bother with the veterans and the babies with all these problems, so I tried to do what I could.

"My mother says I’m always trying to save the world."     

The Power of the PTA

Today, Rolling has her hands full with the PTA, among her other daily obligations. She seeks to make the organization more active and family-friendly. Already the group has sponsored a successful Family Skate Night and enrolled more than 60 families during a recent membership drive, well on the way to Rolling’s goal of 100. She says the PTA ran out of application cards during the membership drive.

"She has worked diligently with the executive board to build our PTA," Principal Jenkins says.
"She was instrumental in accessing funds to support our kindergarten field trip, and she coordinated the Family Skate Night to build community and help families connect."

Rolling credits the power of the PTA: "It’s really a forum for parents and teachers to come together and, if they have questions or concerns to share, they can find a solution through the PTA," she says. She likes that the PTA allows her to support so many constituencies – parents, teachers, and students – "in one fell swoop."

Denise Madden, a special education paraeducator at Deer Park and vice president of the school’s PTA, says Rolling didn’t hesitate taking on the role of president. "She has definitely not been a president in name only," says Madden, noting that among Rolling’s first jobs was to ensure that the school’s students and staff receive the resources they needed.

"She works extremely hard to identify and carry out the needs of the Deer Park family," Madden adds.

Rolling says one area the PTA can assist is in providing students and teachers with support they might not otherwise have, be it in helping teachers stock classrooms with supplies or providing equipment for children of low-income families.  "We want to give every child a level playing-field," she says.

And for a busy parent like Rolling, the advantages of PTA membership far outweigh the demands on her time and resources; in addition to her already-busy days, she and her husband, Ronald Rolling, manage a music business from home.

"For me, getting involved in the PTA is a no-brainer if you are a parent. There are a lot of people out there (who) don’t have a voice or they don’t know how to have a voice. The PTA can provide that," Rolling says. "It gives our school an additional opportunity to help make better students, better teachers, and better parents."

To learn more about the PTA of Baltimore County, visit http://www.bcptacouncil.org/.   

For more photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157658562554424.

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, specialist, BCPS Family and Community Engagement.
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