Rock the CATWALK model profile: Monyka Price to ‘school’ CATWALK attendees in fashion, education
Editor’s note: This year we are highlighting some of the Rock the CATWALK community models – showcasing their talents, passion and careers leading up to the annual fashion show.
Monyka Price gives children the counseling and guidance she never had growing up. She uses her personal experiences to cultivate a better understanding of Cleveland students’ goals and aspirations.
Before transitioning into education, Price worked as a home goods buyer for JCPenney. With an eye for design, she excelled quickly and was eventually buying for all Northeast Ohio locations.
As she climbed the ladder, she reached a point in her career where she needed a change.
She took a buyout and shortly thereafter earned her first master’s degree in early childhood education, then her second in education administration and later attended a superintendent program at Cleveland State University. She is currently enrolled in a doctoral education leadership program at Youngstown State University.
A path to leadership
Now, Price’s job as Chief of Education for the city of Cleveland — part of Mayor Frank Jackson’s cabinet — allows her to help a district full of students, rather than just one classroom or school.
“I believe speaking to our young people, as early as possible, about what they aspire to do and become, and then cultivate that, by connecting them with shadowing experiences and internships,” she said. “It will do one of two things, reinforce what they think they want to do, or it’ll dispel it. And they’ll be able to do that early on, before they get to a college level.”
Now in her ninth year, Price is immersed in the city’s education system at a high level. Interacting with staff across the district, as well as Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) CEO Eric Gordon, she often jokes she is an “educator who just happens to work in government.”
“I didn’t have a ‘Monyka Price’ in my life,” she said. “There wasn’t anyone coaching me. No one gave me a blueprint of what I needed to do to reach my goals. That’s what I wanted to do for young people. I knew I wanted to do it beyond the classroom and knew I was best suited to be a talented administrator or a school leader versus a teacher. I knew that’s where my talents were.”
Striving to better prepare Cleveland’s students for college and beyond, Price is helping to remove obstacles for students, including financial barriers, by creating partnerships with 18 area colleges and universities.
As chief of education, she is also involved in implementing United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Wraparound strategy, which places a site coordinator in 25 CMSD schools. The site coordinator works to combat social and emotional factors influencing students’ academic performance, including access to healthcare, food and other support services.
An eye for fashion
While Price enjoys her current career path and is glad she made the change, she does miss working in fashion at times. She’s considered a fashion forward person and is hopeful her assigned boutique, Cleveland Consignment Shoppe, will represent her personality in the outfits they choose.
“I like vintage clothing, I can appreciate fashion from various eras and I’m excited to see what it will entail,” she said. “I would love a retro look. I can fit in most decades, except the 50s. I love the 70s and love what is on the horizon today.”
One thing she is worried about is finding clothing that fits her well. Incredibly petite and athletic, her mantra is “high heels all day, every day,” and she has the closet full of shoes to prove it.
It’s Price’s first time at Rock the CATWALK (RTC) and she was invited by event co-chair Kristen Baird Adams. She is excited to see what the night — and her boutique — has in store for her.
“I admire and respect the work United Way does,” she said. “When I was a principal, I utilized United Way’s services to help parents and children. As far as RTC, I thought, ‘You know what, this is an organization I certainly believe in,’ so I thought it was a worthy cause.”
This year’s Rock the CATWALK is Thursday, November 3 at the Global Center for Health Innovation. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are on sale now. For more information, contact Megan Shadrach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-436-2131.