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Coordinator Spotlight: Lt. Michael Brooks

Lt. Michael Brooks, a Prime Time program coordinator for four years, has been in law enforcement for 32 years.

He started his career in 1995. Raised by a minister, he knew he wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure what career path he wanted to pursue. He decided to try law enforcement, where he bounced from patrol to detective work, and then finally to working in schools. It was in schools that he began to find his path in his hometown of Donaldsonville, Louisiana.

“I was a poor kid myself, and the needs of the families and children in these neighborhoods was just… I wanted to help. The literacy rates are really low,” he said.

In 2017, he got a chance to make a big difference. With the support of the community, the sheriff at the time, Jeff Wiley, opened a community center at a former school in response to an uptick in crime. Named the Hickley M. Waguespack Center — or the Wag Center, as it’s known — the center is a substation of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Brooks has led the Wag Center since its opening.

“At the center, we do our homework together. We learn together. We play together. I pump everything I can at these kids – sports, books, whatever I can. Our sheriff, Bobby Webre, the work he does, it’s not for political gain. He does it because he cares,” Brooks said.

The center has become a neutral space – a safe haven – where the community can gather. In addition to Prime Time, the center provides a place for job fairs, a Back-to-School Bash, expungements, and Girl Scout meetings for incarcerated mothers and their daughters.

“We had homicides in broad daylight in our little bitty town. And we built that center in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a safe place for children, families, grandparents, and grown people to express themselves. It’s a hub and a lighthouse of hope and opportunity,” he said.

Prime Time serves not only as a way to bring families together and promote literacy but also to talk about important issues affecting the community.

“For parents, we know they are working and it’s a long day so, yes, we are going to have a good meal and we are going to have good conversations. It’s kind of like a good night at the movies. It’s not church. It’s not school. It’s something different. We have hard conversations, but they are real, and everybody appreciates it,” he said.

Applications Now Open for Spring Prime Time Programs

It’s time to get your community signed up for Prime Time!

Applications will be accepted until Oct. 17 for organizations that would like to host either Prime Time Family Reading, for ages 6-10, or Prime Time Preschool Reading, for ages 3-5.

Prime Time programs are free for the organizations that host them and for the families who attend. Eligible organizations include schools, libraries, museums, churches, government entities, and other community-based agencies that possess a valid EIN#. Organizations whose applications are approved will host the 90-minute sessions once a week for six weeks. Each partner site will receive a $1,000 site support stipend, stipends for team members, and a set of the children’s books used during the program. Participating families also keep all books for their personal home libraries.

An initiative of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Prime Time programs start with a shared meal, and then a storyteller reads families an award-winning children’s book. Following the reading, families are engaged in discussion around the themes found in the book using open-ended questions such as “what is a similar situation you have experienced,” “what would you do differently,” and “why.”

If you have questions about applying for a Prime Time reading program, please email [email protected].

Storyteller Spotlight: Daniel Gonzalez

Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, assistant dean for the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Human Development at the University of New Orleans, first began working with Prime Time nearly 20 years ago and has served as a scholar, storyteller and trainer.

He was drawn to the program because of his own experiences with reading together as a family, noting that “One of my seminal experiences as a child growing up in New York was going to the library with my mom. It was a big undertaking – taking buses and trains, kind of like CJ in ‘The Last Stop on Market Street’ (an approved Prime Time book). It’s one of my fondest memories; reading at the library with my mother.”

More Than 60 Prime Time Programs to Reach Louisiana Communities This Fall

More than 60 Prime Time Family Reading and Prime Time Preschool Reading programs will take place in 21 parishes across Louisiana from August through December.

A program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), Prime Time programs involve story sharing around an award-winning children’s book during a weekly session that takes place for six weeks at libraries, schools, churches, community centers and other local community gathering places. Prime Time Family Reading, for ages 6-10, and Prime Time Preschool Reading, for ages 3-5, encourage families to personally connect with literature and each other and think beyond basic plot details by using open-ended questioning that spurs and encourages rich discussion across generations. For Preschool Reading, hands-on activities are incorporated to keep younger children engaged.

This school year, Prime Time is partnering with New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), a nonprofit founded in 2006 with a mission to deliver on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans, to bring Prime Time programs to a record number of schools in Orleans Parish.

“New Schools for New Orleans is excited to announce our partnership with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities through the Prime Time program. Twenty-two charter schools received funding to host a Prime Time program at their school site this fall,” said Nan Sterling, NSNO chief of schools. “We support our schools by increasing their commitment to family engagement and literacy. We look forward to visiting the schools and seeing our families interact with the program and bond with their children through the love of reading.”

Through the support of its partners, Prime Time programs are free for families and the community organizations throughout the state that host them. Families start the program by sharing a meal and also get to keep the books from the sessions to help build their home libraries. Prime Time’s fall reading programs are also sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Entergy Charitable Foundation, Zemurray Foundation, Community Foundation of North Louisiana, the Beaird Family Foundation, the Lamar Family Foundation, and the State of Louisiana.

Families can find a fall Prime Time program near them, along with contact information and dates, by visiting

“As we begin the new school year it’s exciting to envision our Prime Time programs reaching so many families,” said Miranda Restovic, president and executive director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and Prime Time, Inc. “Whether it’s in a school, a public library, a church or a community center, the goal of Prime Time is to expand on the literacy efforts already taking place in our state while opening up a world of questioning and discussion that will lead to our next generation of critical thinkers.”

In addition to Louisiana sites, Prime Time reading programs are hosted by state humanities councils throughout the United States. This fall, Prime Time will also take place in Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska and Washington.

Teachers and Teacher Assistants Invited to Job Fair

Head Start teachers, Early Head Start teachers, and Teacher Assistants looking for a new opportunity are invited to get to know Prime Time Head Start and Early Head Start at a Job Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon at Prime Time Head Start, 420 Dodson St., New Iberia. Prime Time, an initiative of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, offers generous benefits, a $1,000 sign-on bonus, and four locations in Iberia and Lafayette Parishes. Benefits, a list of current openings, and the online applications are available on our employment page.

Storyteller Spotlight: Natalie Marshall Williams

Natalie Marshall Williams first experienced Prime Time as a parent participant and was so impressed with the program she decided to become a trained storyteller. For the past 13 years, she has served in numerous roles – as a preschool facilitator, a scholar, a storyteller, a trainer, and a content developer for Prime Time HomeRoom and HomeRoom@Home.

Her favorite Prime Time Book: “The Big Orange Splot” by Daniel Pinkwater. “I like that it normalizes being yourself. It makes it okay to be different, to live your own truth. I also like that it pushes the idea that sometimes something that seems like a problem can turn out to be okay. And it’s so much fun,” she said.

Prime Time Partners with New Schools for New Orleans

Prime Time is excited to partner with New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) to bring Prime Time programs to a record number of Orleans Parish schools this coming 2023-24 academic year.

NSNO is a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 with a mission to deliver on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans. In keeping with that mission, NSNO is generously supporting Prime Time Family Reading and Prime Time Preschool Reading programs at 22 New Orleans public schools in the fall. Sharing a mission to engage families and their entire communities in literacy-skill development, we at Prime Time can’t wait to engage in this partnership and support New Orleans students’ success.

Register Now for Head Start for the 2023-24 School Year

Registration is now open for families for free preschool in Lafayette and Iberia Parishes.

Prime Time Head Start and Early Head Start is accepting applications for children ages six weeks to 5 years old for four locations, two in Lafayette, one in New Iberia, and one in Jeanerette.

A federally-funded program, Head Start is offered at no cost to qualifying families. Families interested in enrolling their child can visit for more information and a link to the registration portal.

A program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Prime Time Head Start and Early Head Start help children build basic skills, develop a love of literacy and hone critical-thinking abilities that will set the foundation for lifelong learning.

Prime Time Head Start follows a Tier 1 Curriculum, the top rating for instructional materials by the Louisiana Department of Education, in order to provide a seamless transition into kindergarten. The Early Head Start program promotes the physical, mental, social, and emotional development of infants and toddlers in a safe and caring environment. Prime Time welcomes students of all abilities, with 10 percent of seats reserved for children with special needs.

In addition to services for students, Prime Time embraces a family engagement approach with support and services for the entire family. Those opportunities include help with going back to school and employment, monthly Family Engagement Network Meetings, Family Learning Parties, and a parent and caregiver Policy Council through which families help govern Prime Time Head Start and Early Head Start centers.

Documents needed for registration include, where applicable, verification of child’s birth (birth certificate), immunization record, physical and dental exams within the past year, proof of residence, income verification, SSI documentation, FITAP documentation, current foster care documentation, and documentation of eligibility for public assistance.

For more information, visit our registration page, email [email protected], or call 337-465-2428.

Prime Time to Distribute More Than 700 Boxes of Books

More than 725 Prime Time Boxes will soon be distributed to organizations throughout Louisiana and made available to families.

Prime Time Family and Preschool Boxes are take-home versions of Prime Time reading programs. Each box contains books to build families’ home libraries, additional learning supplies, and a Grown-Up Guide for caregivers that provides support for discussion and activities to implement Prime Time’s humanities-centered methodology at home.

With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 525 Prime Time Preschool and Prime Time Family Boxes will be distributed at no cost throughout Louisiana. Additionally, with the support of the Community Foundation of Northwest Louisiana, 250 boxes will be distributed in North Louisiana.

See the list of organizations that will distribute Prime Time Boxes. 

First Institute Workshop Announced

This summer the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) will host the inaugural Institute for Louisiana Culture and History (ILCH) intensive workshop for Louisiana social studies K–12 educators on June 12–14, 2023, in New Orleans. This year’s summer workshop will focus on Indigenous, colonial, and African history in 18th-century Louisiana in alignment with the Louisiana Department of Education’s (LDOE) new 6th grade social studies standards.

The summer intensive workshop will provide Louisiana public school social studies educators the opportunity to build their content knowledge by engaging with nationally known historians and scholars, taking field trips promoting experiential learning, and participating in social studies working sessions exploring how to use expanded standards-aligned content found on LEH’s 64 Parishes online encyclopedia,, in the classroom.

The institute will provide a $250 stipend to all participants on completion of the three-day workshop and paid secure parking. The institute will also provide hotel accommodations and mileage and meal reimbursement for participants traveling more than 60 miles from New Orleans.

Click here for the full schedule and list of facilitators

Social studies educators and specialists employed by public schools in Louisiana, with a preference for those working with 6th grade social studies content, are encouraged to apply.

Apply now here:

Application time is approximately 15 minutes. Applications close April 23 and selected participants will be notified on May 1. In order to ensure maximal attendance at institute workshops, we ask that all applicants agree to attend if selected to participate.


About 64 Parishes Encyclopedia and K-12 Educational Resources

Encompassing an award-winning quarterly print magazine, website, encyclopedia, and K-12 resources, LEH’s 64 Parishes explores Louisiana history and culture. 64 Parishes encyclopedia hosts over 1,100 entries about Louisiana accompanied by thousands of archival images, documents, and audio files. The encyclopedia is one of the LEH’s most-used resources, reaching hundreds of classrooms across Louisiana each year.

The institute is expanding encyclopedia content and adapting and grade-leveling encyclopedia entries for the classroom. As part of the effort to better serve students and teachers, institute staff has also rolled out a new search function that allows teachers to search content by the new Louisiana social studies standards numbers.

The LDOE, one of LEH’s partners on the 64 Parishes encyclopedia expansion, has introduced new social studies standards to be rolled out in the 2023–24 school year. The new course frameworks will expand the study of Louisiana history and culture in the state’s public schools from third and eighth grade to nearly every grade. Together, LEH and LDOE are mapping these new social studies standards to the content on, creating resources for teachers and students, including grade-level appropriate adaptations of key texts.

The ILCH workshops and 64 Parishes encyclopedia expansion are made possible in part by a grant from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation.


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