Photo courtesy Lindsay McMurtray
Mississippi Children's Museum Outreach Coordinator Monique Ealey sees the facility as a resource for families and educators around the state, so for her, it's important that the museum has outreach programming. She says the programs give some children opportunities they may not get otherwise.
Ealey, a Jackson native, received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Jackson State University in 2005, and a master's degree in rehabilitative counseling from JSU in 2007. She also received a master's degree in educational leadership from Grand Canyon University in 2017.
At the beginning of her time with civil-service organization Americorps in 2000, the program placed her at Stewpot Community Services.
"I just really, really found my passion there working with children that most people either write off as bad, or people just kind of forget about them because of the areas that they live in," she says.
Prior to the museum hiring her in 2016, she says the position of outreach coordinator did not exist, and MCM was able to hire for that position through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
"It was just very much so aligned with my personal mission to serve children in under-served communities, so it was just a really good fit to be able to provide the educational component and travel outside of the walls of the museum or a classroom," Ealey says.
MCM's outreach programming includes professional development for teachers, literacy outreach in Jackson and the Mississippi Delta, and more. Some of the programs include "Fit for Fun," where Ealey does a story time with children and then has a physical activity session; and the seven-week program Planting the Seeds to Read, where children come with their parents to the museum, and receive dinner, and then do literacy sessions.
While the museum does literacy lessons, the parents go into sessions to talk about issues such as how to help children with homework and dealing with children who may have disorders such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder.
Ealey says she likes working with children because she is giving back, and helping shape and mold future leaders.
"I feel like I play a very instrumental role in shaping the people that will one day lead our state," she says.
On Monday, Jan. 29, Ealey will become Mississippi Children's Museum's assistant director of programs.