Baton Rouge Parents Magazine

Building a Multi-Generational Legacy Founded on Intentional Relationships at CSAL Middle

From an early age, Lamont Cole, Principal of CSAL Middle School in Baton Rouge, appreciated the role of school administration. “When I was in school, I always had a great relationship with my principals,” said Cole, “I recognized not every student had that same relationship.” This early influence propelled him towards a career in education, striving to give every student the same positive leadership he experienced.

Cole began his education career in 1998 and, six years later, became a principal himself. Now, with over 21 years of administrative experience, he is steadfastly committed to building intentional relationships. “I always try to get to know the kids while they are under my care,” Cole emphasizes, underscoring the importance of relationships in fostering a supportive learning environment. Motivating students and staff can be challenging as educational trends shift and curriculums evolve; but despite these hurdles, Cole continuously facilitates positivity, “I try to motivate my staff to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.”

Cole isn’t all talk; he puts his beliefs into action. He tells a story of a young girl who wore tall striped socks every day, “I made a point to tell her how insanely marvelous her socks were because I knew she might get ridiculed for it,” says Cole. It is this attention to detail that makes Cole a profound, 21st century leader.

As a principal, Cole gets to set the school’s cultural tone, and his goal is to open up kids to freedom of expression, even if it looks like wearing tall, striped socks daily. “We talk to kids a great deal about exploring who they are, where they come from, and the situations they find themselves in,” says Cole. By setting high standards and fostering discussions around identity and personal growth, Cole aims to create a space where students feel empowered to embrace their heritage and opportunities for growth and change. The environment Cole and his team have created at CSAL Middle impacts students beyond the classroom, influencing every aspect of their lives, including their home and community.

Cole is starting to see the fruit of his impact blossom as he is at a place in his career where he is teaching children of past students. “I’m now impacting a second generation,” says Cole, “and it gives me a sense of pride and responsibility.” When looking at local and national data, finding a minority principal, especially of Cole’s tenure, is rare. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 23.6 percent of principals in Louisiana are Black/African-American. This percentage drops significantly lower nationally, where only 9.5 percent of principals were African-American in the 2020-21 school year. Cole emphasizes the importance of having diverse role models for students. “We need more Black men leading in this role,” he asserts, “I don’t think students, no matter where they come from, see enough Black men in these roles.” For Cole, every day presents an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students and their families through representation and connection. Summing up his feelings toward his career, Cole states, “This is the best profession in the world – we are truly saving lives.”

To learn more about the great things happening at CSAL Middle School, visit their website.