As a new teacher Jeanene Holliday quickly realized that young, delinquent and at-risk girls weren’t getting much help in developing the social and academic skills they desperately needed to succeed. The future Law Center student made a personal commitment to do something about it.
In 2004, as part of her master’s program at the University of Houston, she developed and founded “Missy-C,” an after-school program designed to teach good study habits and appropriate social behavior through character education and values clarification training. Her program at Lake Olympia Middle School in the Fort Bend school district caught on quickly and has reached hundreds of pre-teen children over the years. Holliday continued her volunteer project even after enrolling in the Law Center as a part-time student in 2007 and despite a rigorous schedule as a full-time teacher.
After earning her J.D. in Spring 2011, Holliday hopes to take her program nationwide, and she recently earned an accolade -- a Certificate of Special U.S. Congressional Recognition -- that may help her on her way. In announcing the honor, U.S. Rep. Al Green commended the effort as “a dynamic program that teaches the essential importance of academic achievement while developing talents and gifts in our youth that will build strong leaders of tomorrow.”
Holliday, who also works as an Irene Merker Rosenberg Scholar at the law school’s Center for Children, Law & Policy, gives credit for the most recent success of the program to Prof. Ellen Marrus, director of the children’s center, and the late Prof. Rosenberg. "Both have inspired me to strive for excellence in everything I do, especially when it comes to helping today's youth,” Holliday said. “My goal is to continue impacting the lives of at-risk young girls by providing opportunities that deter truancy and other delinquent behaviors. I am very grateful to have had such great mentors in my life as a law student!" The spirit and inspiration of her two Law Center professors have given her confidence that her program can succeed on a national scale. “Yes, this can be done,” she exclaims. “After all, as Professor Rosenberg said, ‘Just do it.’ ”
And, just who is Missy and what does the C stand for? “The name was originally Ms. C, pronounced Missy,” Holliday explains, “and it eventually became Missy-C. The C stands for its three educational objectives: character education, cultural awareness and community leadership.”