STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Monique Breaux, recreation coordinator of the Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Department, spent her summer getting training and education with the aim of being a better public servant for residents and visitors.
Breaux was one of two selected nationwide for a John C. Potts “Pottsie” Leadership Development scholarship to attend the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Directors School. The American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administration in conjunction with NRPA sends seasoned park and recreation professionals to teach the weeklong school that was offered in August in Oak Brook, Illinois.
This program is “for up and coming parks and recreation professionals who want to pursue a long-term career and become a parks and recreation director,” Breaux said.
She also became a Certified Youth Sports Administrator through the National Academy for Youth Sports Administrators on September 9.
Students of Potts Leadership Development School spent a week learning from the top parks and recreational professors alongside 180 of the brightest parks and recreation workers from across the country, Breaux said.
Breaux, who compared it to graduate school, said she will spend another week there in 2020.
“I was blessed to be selected and represent Marble Falls,” she said. “It was intense. It had lectures, required public speaking and all the things that go with being a parks and recreation director.”
The curriculum included how to work with residents of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, and physical challenges. It even covered the new terms and words for those groups. Today’s retired population don’t want to be called senior citizens; thet prefer active aging adults, she said.
The most important part of the school was the emphasis that people, no matter who, have a lot in common, Breaux said.
“Why does it have to be us versus them on any level,” she said. “It’s no longer us versus them. We are more connected now. We have so many multicultural families and dynamics. We have to include everybody.”
Understanding and embracing that connection is key for a parks and recreation department that strives to meet the desires of its residents and visitors, she added, since staff are considered public servants.
After all, people want to go to their parks to enjoy themselves without fretting about anything else, she noted.
Breaux was also voted to serve as fundraising co-chair for the Edroy Jenkins Scholarship. The Edroy Jenkins Scholarship raises money for incoming NRPA Directors School attendees who may need minimal financial assistance.
Breaux called the National Academy for Youth Sports Administrators certification “a tool to help bridge the gap between the city and different recreational leagues.”
She went to the onsite academy hosted by the city of Arlington’s parks and recreation department then spent July and August learning the material that was online and studying for the nine-part exam that covered budgets, how to work with coaches and board members, how to obtain volunteers, bullying prevention, and learning the signs of child abuse.
She has more knowledge and understanding of the unique challenges for the youth leagues and the players who participate.
“It helps me be on the same page with everyone as far as schedules and kids,” she said.
Breaux believes having this knowledge and learning from the best from across the country means she can be better at helping people who utilize the parks.
“We serve the public,” she said. “We want to put forward a parks and recreation department that’s second to none.”