Saying ‘Goodbye’ not the end of the road

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE-Elexia Henderson has accomplished more than most. She has been an advocate for environmental issues, senior citizens, and education initiatives, but how many boards she has served on isn’t what is really important. It is how she has touched the lives of everyone around her.

&#8220I have had the pleasure of helping many kids, including ensuring one of my son’s friends went to college,” Henderson said.

&#8220I feel like the most important thing I have done in my life is help the young people become who they are today. It doesn’t matter if they have been my students, my children, or my numerous &#8220adopted” children. If they tell me I have helped them be what they are, then I say that is an accomplishment,” Henderson said.

Affectionately known as &#8220Momma Leq” in St. John Parish, she has been a guiding and calming force to everyone around her, even her fellow school board members. As she steps down from the board after losing her re-election bid, her peers say that there will be a loss of a sometimes well-needed peacemaker amongst them.

Think twice before you speak once is the advice she offers to almost anyone.

She has been an active part of the River Parishes Education Initiative and holds degrees from several universities.

Those including an undergrad degree from Grambling, Master’s at Nicholls State, and Tulane and Southeastern universities for plus 30.

&#8220Education is in my blood, I may not be on the board, but I will always be there to give them my take on education issues. It’s like a pastor who’s not a pastor anymore, but he is always a preacher, and I will always be a teacher,” Henderson said.

Some of the board members are the very same people that Ms. Henderson helped guide through their school years and they agree that she has impacted all of them.

Patrick Sanders and Keith Jones are two board members who say Henderson helped them be where they are today.

&#8220You will be truly missed on this board .You have been there to calm us down when we might have gotten into major disagreements. You are very knowledgeable and your presence on the board has been both an asset and an inspiration. You were also a tough teacher and principal.” Board member Sanders said.

&#8220Ms. Henderson you have always brought us together to make us all gel, regardless of our different personalities, and as a student, friend and peer I want to thank you for everything” board member Jones said.

Board president Gerald Keller said, ”You have really impacted all our schools in so many ways. You are really a great lady.”

Besides being on the St. John Parish school board she has served as a volunteer director on minority affairs for the AARP.

&#8220Being in charge of minority affairs for AARP enabled me to travel many places throughout the country and even Canada to learn about the needs of retired persons from different minority cultures in our country. I have traveled to Indian reservations, Hispanic neighborhoods, Asian communities and other minority areas and seen for myself what these people need and how to meet those needs,” Henderson said.

Henderson served on the board for the council on aging and said one of her duties was to help guide people to who they needed to contact to get their social security checks.

As a member of the minority affairs committee she traveled to Washington D.C as a spokesperson for minority cultures. But that is not her only trip to D.C. to speak out for a cause.

She was invited to the capital again when she was a part of the Mississippi River Corridor task force under Governor Mike Foster.

&#8220I met with Governor Foster several times when he personally asked me to be a member of the task force after I adamantly opposed the relocation of Aristech to the River Region. Aristech wanted to put a cumin phenol plant here that was known for emitting carcinogens that were linked to cancer,” she said.

&#8220Industries look for locations that have little resistance to their presence there and where the resources needed for industry such as railroad, highways and rivers are available. I was able to bring the environmental concerns to the forefront and they didn’t come,” she said.

The Mississippi River Corridor task force was established by Governor Foster to study the effects of the various chemical plants’ impact on the river and its surrounding regions.

Henderson said she will continue to do volunteer work at the hospital in the Medical Surgical unit, and will also still be an active voice in education issues, particularly to help to continue to improve test scores.