Catalyst Parent, Advocate, and Board Member

Monica Smith grew up and attended traditional public schools in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. After graduating from high school she attended Wilbur Wright College. She now works as a teacher’s assistant in the Oak Park School District and lives with her family in Austin. These experiences that she had growing up inspired her to be the advocate for kids that she is today.

Monica has two daughters – one in 8th grade and one in 4th grade. When it came to choosing schools for her girls, Monica struggled. She wanted her daughters to have the best education possible, with the best opportunities. But in Austin, she felt like she had limited choices. Her nieces went to Catalyst Charter Schools, a new charter public school right in her neighborhood. Monica did some research and loved it. At Catalyst, she felt as if her daughters would be nurtured and would grow into caring young adults. She was right – they love it and cherish their time there.

This year has been challenging for children across the globe, and that includes Monica’s daughters. They’ve been remote learning for the last few months. While they’d rather be with their classmates and teachers, the whole family is getting used to learning remotely. Catalyst made the transition easy for families, with all the technology and support they needed. They’re even on top of the high school admissions process. Monica’s oldest daughter is now starting the high school search process. She’s looking at high schools like Whitney Young and Westinghouse. Monica’s dream is for her daughter to get into whatever high school her daughter wants, whatever will make her happy.

Monica has been a strong supporter of Catalyst and became their newest parent board member. She hopes to advocate and ensure that even more children have the opportunity to attend schools where they feel welcome and supported, like Catalyst. There are other neighborhoods in Chicago in which families have an abundance of excellent school options. She wants to ensure that all children, regardless of where they live or how much money their families have, have excellent opportunities.