October 21, 2010

NBC show highlights work to refurbish outdated public schools.

LSU College of Engineering Ph.D. student Monique Johnson was featured on the Oct. 22 episode of NBC’s “School Pride,” showing her work to refurbish Lanier Elementary School in Baton Rouge, La.   

Johnson, who earned her undergraduate degree in architecture and master’s degree in engineering science, focusing on construction management from LSU, owns Gulf Coast Revitalization Construction, located in Baton Rouge.

Juggling her classes at LSU, teaching engineering classes at Baton Rouge Community College and running her own business kept Johnson busy this past summer.

“Once I learned more about the project and how I would be helping local school children, I decided I wanted to join the team,” she said.

Johnson’s summer became more hectic when Gary Brown, producer of NBC’s new series “School Pride,” approached her about documenting Lanier Elementary School’s transformation.  

“The show is all about giving back to the community, but the catch is we don’t have as much time to work” explained Johnson. “We had eight hours to do a four-day job, but it was definitely worth it in the end. The team worked hard and our sponsors, Hill Abstracting, Beautiful Blessings and Stanley Roberts, were pivotal to our success.”

Investing in her community is nothing new to Johnson.  For her final project to complete her master’s degree, she worked on a local house to reduce its utility usage by 40 percent, making it more cost effective for the residence and better for the environment.  She has also created and introduced a sustainable building material that is being used in the United States, Canada, Africa, the Dominican Republic and the British West Indies.  Her work has garnered such an impressive reputation that she was able to meet Nelson Mandela to discuss the new material.

“Meeting Nelson Mandela was incredible,” said Johnson. “Working with such an iconic figure was an amazing experience.”

Lanier Elementary School was built in the 1950s as a charter school by the nonprofit organization Advance Baton Rouge. As enrollment has increased, so has the need for renovations. For more information on Lanier Elementary, visit www.lanier.ebrschools.org.  

About School Pride

From executive producers Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Denise Cramsey (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “True Beauty”), “School Pride” is a proactive, alternative series that tells the stories of communities coming together to renovate their aging and broken public schools. While transforming the school, the community also restores its sense of value and school pride. For more information about NBC’s “School Pride,” visit www.nbc.com/school-pride.


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Article by Crystal Jackson, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu

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