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Head Start Superheroes: Mona Jules
Mona Jules is an amazing role model for children, staff and families.
Mona was forced to leave her community and attend residential school in Kamloops when she was only six years old. She was separated from her three siblings, who she only saw occasionally from a distance.
Although she was able to return home five years later, being separated all that time from her family, with no love and no loving touch, left emotional wounds. For a very long time she resented her own language.
But Mona’s strength of spirit eventually brought her home to her language. She went on to become a language assistant, researcher, instructor and student, and in 2008, at age 67, Mona graduated with her Bachelor’s degree from SFU’s Kamloops program.
Mona’s love for the children and teaching Secwepemctsin language and culture is a blessing to the Little Moccasins Head Start program at Chu Chua.
Kye7e comes twice weekly and immerses the children in language from the moment she arrives until she leaves for the day. Kye7e teaches with alphabet chants, drumming and using the “Total Physical Response” (TPR) method.
Mona says, “I find that very young children need a very stimulating environment. Children are not embarrassed to make mistakes. They can learn a huge amount of whole phrases—in teaching single words, language teachers underestimate the capacity of the very young. At the same time, if the teaching method isn’t stimulating or fun enough, it’s more difficult. Young children cannot be taught with written explanations or other methods older language learners can grasp. For a language to transfer, stories are one way that children hear the language and learn values and cultural teachings.”
“Thank you, Mona, for your example and all that you share,” says Arlene Mitchell, Headstart Coordinator for Simpcw First Nation.