Jul 12, 2013

Educators Honored At Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium And Celebration

BATON ROUGE, La— The Department announced the 2014 Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year at the Seventh Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration.  This annual symposium is a day of professional development and recognition for Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists.

This year’s Principal of the Year is Ajit “AJ” Pethe, principal at Luling Elementary in St. Charles Parish, an elementary school serving students from Pre-K to 5th grade.  Mr. Pethe was an educator for sixteen years and has served as principal at Luling Elementary for the past six years. Mr. Pethe has led Luling to increase its school performance score by nearly twenty points during his tenure.

This year’s Teacher of the Year is La’Keisha McKinney, a reading and math teacher for gifted students in third through sixth grades at R.J. Vial Elementary School with sixteen years of classroom experience. Mrs. McKinney is National Board Certified and was awarded Teacher of the Year for Mimosa Park Elementary in 2007. Mrs. McKinney also is a member of the College and Career Readiness Taskforce, the School Improvement Team, and a district mentor.

“Congratulations to all of the finalists and to Mr. Pethe and Ms. McKinney, educators who truly inspire, not only their students and those they lead, but all of us through their unceasing dedication to children,” said State Superintendent John White. “We are grateful to all of the educators honored at this symposium and thank them for their passionate service to our state.

"Educators are one of our state's greatest resources; achieving our student learning goals is not possible without their tireless hard work and dedication," said Holly Boffy, secretary-treasurer of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and 2010 State Teacher of the Year. "We congratulate this year's finalists and give our heartfelt thanks to every educator working to improve outcomes for kids."

Prior to the awards ceremony, educators from across the state, including Louisiana’s Teacher of Year alumni, were honored at a luncheon hosted by Dream Teachers featuring New York Times bestselling author and founder of the Ron Clark Academies, Ron Clark. Clark was also named Disney’s American Teacher of the Year in 2000. Following the luncheon, educators from across the state participated in workshops led by Louisiana Teacher Leaders that focused on the state’s transition to more rigorous standards and assessments. This year, the state worked to align the application and selection processes to be more efficient to this shift. For more information on these programs, including an overview of the selection process, click here.

To celebrate their success in the classroom, Dream Teachers along with other sponsors presented the Principal of the Year finalists with over $2,800 in rewards and recognition.  The 2014 Principal of the Year received over $1,100 in additional rewards and recognition for a total package value of over $3,900.  Teachers of the Year finalists received over $4,300 in rewards and recognition. The 2014 Teacher of the Year received over $28,600 in additional rewards and recognition for a total package value of over $32,900.

The 2014 Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year programs represent Louisiana’s commitment to effective instructional and leadership practices that will lead to student success in college and career. This emphasis on educators and the integral role they play is a key aspect of Louisiana Believes, the state’s plan to ensure all students are on track for college or a career. This plan is centered on the belief that those closest to students must be empowered to make decisions on their behalf. This celebration and the professional development prior to the event focused on empowering and celebrating educators across Louisiana who are making a very real impact in the lives of children.

“Louisiana’s classrooms are filled with hardworking teachers dedicated to changing the lives if children. They have the most important job in the world, teaching our children. We appreciate what they do. We want them to know that,” said Jamey Firnberg, Board Chairman, Dream Teachers.

Dream Teachers, a partner in the event, is 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. This year’s sponsors include Albermarle, the Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge Foundation, the Boo Grigsby Foundation, and Mercedes Benz of Baton Rouge. 

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