Juanda R. Bryant is a certified educator with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Juanda has her certification in Early Childhood through 6th Grade, Gifted and Talented, and English Second Language (ESL). She is a recipient of the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce 2018 “40 Under 40 Award,” Sam Houston Elementary 2017 “Teacher of the Year,” and Common Cents Credit Union 2016 “Outstanding Educator Award." Juanda is a decorated military veteran who served 12 years in the United States Army as a Transportation Coordinator (88N). She served in two campaigns: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Juanda is the author of two children’s books, “The Mini-Adventures of Danny and the Deployer” and “Operation Care Package.”
Juanda is also a motivational speaker as she teaches her principals of “Be, Know, and Do: believe in yourself, know your worth, and your purpose.” Juanda has also been featured in a number of magazines for her work as a book author: Southeast Texas Family Magazine, Military Kids Life Magazine, Melanin Milso Magazine, and Houston Voyage Magazine. She also has a monthly feature on the Army Wife Network (AWN) Podcast with her segment of “Sixty Seconds of Serenity.” Her segment encourages military spouses to engage and enjoy life.
Juanda is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Epsilon Theta Omega Chapter of Beaumont, Texas.
Currently, she is the Lead Counselor at PLA@ Smith Middle School in Beaumont, Texas. In her first year as a counselor at Smith, Juanda has built morale, planned and coordinated community service projects, and continues to build relationships with community stakeholders. Through her time in military service, education, and authorship, Juanda continues to serve all mankind.
BBP: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in education?
JS: My inspiration for teaching comes from my experience with my teachers from Martin, French, Odom, and Central High School and other educators I grew to admire. Their love for teaching, positivity and caring made me want to be like them. My teachers went beyond the call of duty because they did more than teach; they built relationships with parents, encouraged working in the community, and brought learning to life. They inspired me so much that I would go home and play school with my dolls and brothers. It now has transformed into my real life. Now when my teachers see me, they confirm my calling into education. It was my High School Counselor that inspired me to become a counselor. I have realized that my career in the military and education contribute to being a public servant.
BBP: What has been your greatest challenge as an educator, and how do you work through those issues?
JS: My greatest challenge as an educator is working through the pandemic. The pandemic is unchartered territory for us all; however, we know that education is essential. We must find ways to connect with our scholars and motivate them to learn even through a pandemic. I work through the pandemic issues by supporting teachers and scholars in building positive relationships and adapting to the new norms.
BBP: How have you worked to help students adjust to the "new normal" during this pandemic?
JS: Students are having a hard time adjusting to the "new normal" because of isolation. Children need to socialize, connect, build healthy relationships, learn empathy, decision-making, and more. At my school, we provide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) to help students acquire the skills they need to adjust to school.
BBP: What advice do you have for someone who may be considering a career in education?
JS: If someone is considering a career in education, we welcome you. Always keep children first. Working in education is a ministry, but the reward is seeing the fruit of your labor; when the child learns and excels in academics.
BBP: You have been actively involved in your community. Why do you think community service is so important?
JS: I have been doing community service since a little girl at Martin Elementary in Girl Scouts. I started as a “Brownie.” I believe that community service is a way to give back. It is a way to show appreciation and help those in need. There is a saying, "it is better to be the lender than a borrower." I will instead be the lender by lending a helping hand to serve the people of Beaumont, Texas, which extends to the nation with my honorable service in the United States Army. I instill community service in my scholars to be aware of the community's needs and get involved.
BBP: What is one thing you wished your community had?
JS: The community needs more attractions for our youth. Many students complain about boredom, so social media has become their entertainment. However, when dealing with young impressionable minds, social media becomes dangerous. I understand the pandemic limits large gatherings, but I wish we had a water park, a theme park, and even more for our youth. Academically, the community provides a wealth of resources for our youth; the issue is the right people accessing them. The community needs more after-school activities for children located in their communities.
BBP: To date, what would you say your most significant accomplishment has been? Why?
JS: It is hard to define my most significant accomplishment because all my accomplishments signify a milestone in my life. Every accomplishment took hard work. However, if I am going to choose, it's the accomplishment of joining the military and moving up the ranks to Sergeant First Class. It was the most challenging decision of my life, and I am so glad I did it to this date. I credit the military for my work ethic.
BBP: Would you change anything about your journey? Why or why not?
JS: I would not change anything about my journey. My journey has made me who I am today. Although my journey signifies struggle, it lets me know that I can stand the test of time.
BBP: What is your philosophy on life?
JS: There are principles of leadership in the military called Be, Know, and Do. I had to memorize these principles as I was coming up the ranks. They stuck with me, and now that I am a civilian, I adapted it to fit my life: Be yourself, know your worth, and do your purpose.
BBP: What is your favorite motivational quote? Why?
JS: I love the scripture, "Whatever you do, work at it with all our heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV. I love this scripture because it put in perspective for whom I am ultimately working. The scripture resonates with me to always do my best and keeping a positive attitude no matter the challenges.