Rohnert Park Councilwoman Jackie Elward visits French 2 Class


Photo by Summer Cole

French 2 students were visited by Jackie Elward during second period on Feb. 28th, 2023 to talk about her experiences in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Jackie Elward is currently a councilwoman in Rohnert Park, but originally is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Students have been learning about African history in their class, so Mrs. Simmeth decided to invite the councilwoman to come in and present about the area. 

Currently part of multiple city committees, including the Waste and Recycling Committee, the Casino Expansion Ad Hoc Subcommittee, and the Water/Wastewater Issues Committee, Elward also has a background in French teachings, as she formerly worked in the French American Charter School. 

With her background in French, Elward gave a well-detailed presentation completely in French to the students, stopping every now and then to let Mrs. Simmeth explain certain vocabulary to the students that they had not yet learned.

As Elward went through the presentation, she showcased slides filled with photos, showing multiple aspects of life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She started with the nature and wildlife of the area, then transitioned to the endangered animals, native foods, local culture, and natural resources. 

She also shared how she started her nonprofit organization, Les Enfantes Baobab (The Baobab Children), to help kids struggling due to the war in the Democratic Republic. This, along with her work in Rohnert Park, led to her being awarded “Woman of the Year” in 2022 by Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.

Sophomore Emily Hall shared, “I think the presentation was very good on teaching about the Congolese culture and helping to raise our awareness of other parts of the world.” 

After Elward finished her presentation, students actively participated in asking her questions in French that they had brainstormed based on research before she had arrived. 

Elward concluded her visit by leaving the students with a powerful statement:

Never underestimate yourself, and the power you have to change.

— Jackie Elward, Rohnert Park City Councilwoman