By: Rebecca S. Jones
African-American News & Issues
HOUSTON- Born into a family of educators was a gentle and meek product of Palestine,Texas, Mrs. Rosalyn Sweat. Rosalyn grew up with a mission and vision to serve “my people” as she defines it. In 1999, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Prairie View A&M University. In 2003, she received a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Texas Southern University. Determined to fulfill and accomplish her career goals she began teaching at Aldine Middle School. There she was assigned to teach 8th grade. In 2008, she was named Assistant Principal at Aldine’s 9th grade campus. The following year, she became a member of Houston A+ Challenge’s Cohort II and served a year-long residency as a Principal Intern at Carver Magnet High School and Parker Intermediate School.
After completing her residency, she was named Assistant Principal at Eisenhower High School. To date her career path has totaled 14 years of experience in education, through the Aldine Independent School District. It is through this experience that she has been taught that a successful environment is established when there is structure and a demand for high academic expectations. She has served as Principal of Carver Magnet High School since 2011; of which she has become the first female principal to serve in this capacity.
Carver Magnet High School is one that has been in the community since 1915. However, it was originally White Oak (Colored) School a one-room school and apart of Harris Country Common School District. In 1937, White Oak School was added to the Aldine Independent School District. Under the direction of Mr. Archie Anderson who served as principal from 1941 to 1957 it was renamed to George Washington Carver School. In the 1950’s a new high school was built and erected. The old campus was named Carver Elementary and later changed to A.B. Anderson Elementary. In 1978, George Washington Carver High School was renamed Aldine Contemporary Education Center. The school later became known as George Washington Carver High School for Applied Technology, Engineering and Arts, of which is operates under today. The curriculum implemented within Carver, has produced graduates with personal and professional success; it has also remained a cornerstone of the Acres Homes community.
Mrs. Sweat has an educational philosophy which focuses on establishing a safe and nurturing learning environment. In her role as a campus leader, she strives to help children develop self-discipline, an attitude of responsibility and a commitment to accept moral and ethical values. Her ultimate philosophy is, “Failure is not an option!” It is further her objective and goal to ensure through education, exposure and opportunity that every student that walks through Carver Magnet High School will be successful.
Mrs. Sweat explained of how her biggest smiles are accounted for when her students both past and current return to tell of her accomplishments that they have made. Mrs. Sweat is thankful for being a part of the Aldine Independent School District family. Thus she believes that AISD puts an individual in contact with the right people. She stated that they have devised a support system that is very accommodating and to any individual who is really trying to go somewhere they will provide and assist with that effort. Continuing she sung the praises of Mr. Roy Douglas Malonson who is the Chairman of the Acres Homes Chamber for Business and Economic Development. She exclaimed that he has assisted her with gaining support from the community and providing his knowledgeable history concerning the community of which she serves. She admonishes and encourages aspiring educators to remember that, “education is the key to success and to never quit or give up.”
Rosalyn is married to Ryan Sweat and they have two small children, Ryan II and Jordan. She regards them as her inspiration, and is grateful of the strong support system that her family provides her. In Rosalyn’s spare time she enjoys shopping and traveling.
Mrs. LaShonda Bilbo-Ervin was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She attended Northeast Louisiana University now known as the University of Louisiana in Monroe where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education. After graduating college, she moved to Houston where she began teaching 4th grade at Peck Elementary in 3rd Ward. In 2006, she was promoted to being the Assistant Principal at Booker T. Washington High School. Mrs. Ervin was trained under the late
Mr. Franklyn Wesley who was the principal of Booker T. Washington for 42 years. A true learning experience is what she recalls Mr. Wesley providing her with. She regarded him as a pioneer in many aspects. Booker T. Washington High School was established in 1893 and was named Colored High. Upon establishment it was located at 303 West Dallas in Downtown Houston. It was renamed in 1928 as Booker T. Washington High School. The school was moved to Independence Heights in 1959 where it sits today.
Ervin stated that in order to be a principal, one must have compassion for his or her students and the community of which it is apart. She expressed her joy of seeing students returning back to share in their accomplishments of continued education. Students like Jamie Marie Bledsoe who graduated from Booker T. Washington a few years ago and invited her to her college graduation and is now an elementary school teacher; are among the examples that lets Ervin know that her work is not in vain. She stated that, “it gives you a sense of accomplishment knowing that your students did not just stop their education after they have exited the doors of your institution.”
Her mother has proven to be her inspiration. She stated that her mother encouraged her to stay in school and to reach for her total potential. Mrs. Ervin has prided herself in using her high-heels for walking up and down the corridors of Booker T. She stated that, “kids need to know who you are.” Her students come first and paperwork is secondary. She makes it her business to not only become acquainted with the troubled students, but all of the students. She feels that, “children need someone to connect with them, as well as correct them”.
Mrs. LaShonda Bilbo-Ervin believes that, “If you can educate someone, you can help save their life.” She continued, “You have to work at Booker T. Washington and that is what I am committed to doing, this is not a job for the weak.” She said that she wanted to work at a place where she felt that she was needed. Booker T. proved to be that place where she is needed and called upon to be a role-model, Mother-figure, Counselor, Mentor and so much more. Nonetheless, she applauds her staff and the teachers that work beside her. Being in education for some years now, Ervin realizes that one must have a passion in order to be an educator. “The road is not easy to be an administrator but the lives that you have an opportunity to change make it worth the travel”, Ervin stated.
Mrs. Ervin expressed her delight about building a new campus for Booker T. She said that she anticipates the project being an amazing experience and she is excited about the state of the art high school that will be built in the community. She encourages everyone to be on the watch for the new and improved Booker T. Washington.
Together these two highly intelligent and educated women are making strides in the Black Community. Dually, they have become two of the first Black female principals in historically Black schools in the Houston area. African-American News & Issues is proud of the talents and salutes: Mrs. Rosalyn Sweat and Mrs. LaShonda Bilbo-Ervin who are making a positive difference in the public school system and the Black community.