The vote was unanimous: A new middle school in Manatee County will be named for Dr. Mona Jain.
“I am humbled and really touched,” Jain said. “Especially when the hometown recognizes you.”
A retired director of family health services for Manatee County Head Start, Jain has spent decades serving the Manatee County community after moving to the area in 1964 from India.
Jain said she was the first Indian-American teacher at the former Bayshore Middle School in 1970, and stayed on with the school when it became a high school. She still sees people in public that recognize her as their teacher.
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“I think that in a way, when someone is an educator, the greatest reward they get is when their students do well. And that’s all the recognition and respect they want, really,” Jain said.
She also served on the board of the Just for Girls Academy.
In 2015, Jain and her daughter, Dr. Anila Jain, were awarded the Edgar H. Price Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for their “tireless efforts in giving back to the community.”
“Mom is a people person,” Anila Jain said when they received the award. “There has never been a person she didn’t like. She is always involved and will never say: ‘No.’ I think I get my traits from her.”
Jain is also a founding member of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women Foundation and served on the steering committee for the Manatee County Aging Network.
This new middle school is expected to have capacity for 1,048 students and will be located next to B.D. Gullett Elementary on 44th Avenue East in Lakewood Ranch.
Speakers at the board meeting this week spoke of her inspirational nature and the constant attention she paid to struggling students, thoughts echoed by former students, fellow teachers, business leaders and doctors. Jain said she was touched that so many people from so many different backgrounds spoke about her at the meeting.