Jul 20, 2012

Nearly 300 Educators Honored During 6th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration

BATON ROUGE, La. - Empowering educators and parents to make the best choices for children is at the core of Louisiana Believes, the state’s comprehensive plan for continued improvement in education. And, during the Sixth Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration in Baton Rouge, the Louisiana Department of Education honored nearly 300 educators making choices in our schools and classrooms leading to increased student achievement.

"Great teachers and great leaders are the heart and soul of great schools. These distinguished educators and administrators are a fine representation of the high-caliber professionals we are fortunate to have in Louisiana public schools," State Superintendent John White said. "Each of the educators we honored during the celebration of education represent the backbone of our educational system. They are shaping the lives of our children, and we all enjoy thanking them in this very special way."

The highlight of the evening was the naming of Dr. Amy Weems, a teacher at Ouachita Parish Junior High School in Ouachita Parish, as the 2013 Louisiana Teacher of the Year. And, thanks to the generosity of Mercedes Benz of Baton Rouge, the honor came with a set of keys and the use of a new Mercedes Benz for one year.

A third generation teacher, Dr. Weems has taught Home Living to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Ouachita Junior High School for the past year and a half. She has more than 8 years of experience in Louisiana classrooms. Dr. Weems was selected from 24 Regional Finalists for Louisiana’s 2013 Teacher of the Year. Also announced during the event were the 2012 Superintendent of the Year, Mr. Wayne Savoy of Calcasieu Parish, the 2013 Teachers of the Year for elementary, middle, and high school, and the 2013 Principals of the Year for elementary, middle, and high school.

The 2013 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Melissa Williams, Highland Elementary, Ouachita Parish; the 2013 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Amanda Warren, Lake Harbor Middle School, St. Tammany Parish; and, the 2013 High School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Amanda Baudot, Hahnville High School, St. Charles Parish.

The 2013 Elementary School Principal of the Year is Ms. Nikki Fryou, Hattie A. Watts Elementary School, St. Mary Parish; the 2013 Middle School Principal of the Year is Ms. Judy Grooms, Emmett E. Cope Middle School, Bossier Parish; and, the 2013 High School Principal of the Year is Ms. Nanette McCann, Baton Rouge Magnet High School, East Baton Rouge Parish.

"Our teachers and principals work tremendously hard during the school year. And, this is the one event devoted entirely to expressing our gratitude for that hard work to improve the lives and ensure the futures of our state’s children," Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Penny Dastugue said. "It’s always a joy to gather our best educators for this summer gala so they can network, share ideas, and be recognized for the great jobs they do."

Teacher and principal of the year regional finalists will receive a $50 guest room gift certificate from Crowne Plaza Hotel, a restaurant gift card for dinner for two, a $50 discount coupon from H&R Block, an engraved glass paperweight, and $500 from Dream Teachers. In addition, the Teacher of the Year Regional Finalists receive a 1-year school site lease for SMART ideas concept mapping software from SMART Technologies valued at $1,500.

The state-level winners of the teacher and principal of the year will also receive Community Coffee for one year in the school lounge, two tickets to Blue Bayou Water Park in Baton Rouge from Coca Cola, an ActivSound 100 system with four speakers from AXI Ed Solutions, a leather laptop bag from Pearson’s Travel, a $100 gift certificate from School Aids, a $100 discount coupon from H&R Block Tax Preparation and $2,500 from Dream Teachers.

In addition to the one-year lease on the Mercedes, Dr. Amy Weems will receive two round-trip plane tickets from Baton Rouge Metro Airport, a 4-day car rental from Enterprise, jewelry compliments of Cohn Turner, a SMART Board ™ with projector and software from SMART Technologies, a scholarship for a Dale Carnegie Training Program, an appearance at halftime of an LSU football game, the chance to throw out the first pitch at an LSU baseball game, free Raising Cane’s for a year, and $5,000 from Dream Teachers. It’s a prize package worth nearly $50,000.

Dream Teachers, a non-profit organization founded in 2007 for the purpose of recognizing Louisiana’s finest educators and educational leaders and to encourage educational excellence, served as presenting sponsor of the event.

Other sponsors included Mercedes Benz of Baton Rouge, Entergy, Enterprise, Exxon Mobil, LaCapitol Credit Union, Mockler Beverage, Himmel’s Architectural Door & Hardware, Saia Auto Consultants, Coca Cola, Albemarle Foundation, SMART Technologies, School Aids, Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge Foundation, DOW, The Boo Grigsby Foundation, The Picard Group, Community Foundation of Acadiana, Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, Performance Contractors, Billy Heroman’s Flowerland, and Community Coffee.


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