Jul 15, 2016

Elementary, Middle, and High School Educators Honored at 10th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium

BATON ROUGE, La. – In a celebration of excellence in education for Louisiana, the Department tonight announced the overall 2017 Teacher and Principal of the Year at the 10th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration. The annual symposium is a day of professional development and recognition for Teacher and Principal of the year semi-finalists and finalists.

The 2017 Teacher of the Year is Joni Smith, a 7th grade science teacher at Albany Middle School in Livingston Parish.  Ms. Smith feels she has definitely found her niche in teaching. Through hard work, her students rank first in Livingston Parish for test scores in Life Science, and fourth in the state. She continually encourages her students to become community leaders and actively engage in serving those in need. As the 2017 Teacher of the Year, Ms. Smith drove away with a one-year lease on a new Mercedes, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge.

The 2017 Principal of the Year is Sedric Clark, principal at Mansfield High School in DeSoto Parish. In his six years at Mansfield High School, the graduation rate has increased from 66 percent to 96 percent and the school has moved from a D to a B letter grade. Mr. Clark is quick to point out the success of his students is a team effort. These successes have led Mansfield High School to being recognized as a Top Gains School for 2015 and a TAP Founders Award Finalist in 2016.

"The educators honored tonight are a fine representation of the high-caliber professionals we are fortunate to have in Louisiana schools,” said State Superintendent John White. “This is a chance to celebrate the profession of teaching, a chance to recommit to the effort of ensuring our teachers have what they need to do their job well. It’s a chance to recognize our state’s educators not only for their dedication to their students and their profession, but also for their demonstrated ability to educate and inspire their students through meaningful and effective learning experiences.”

Additionally, recognized during the evening were the 2017 Elementary, Middle, and High School Teacher and Principal of the Year winners. The 2017 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Amber Beach, Princeton Elementary School, Bossier Parish; the 2017 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Ms. Anna Tarver, Gilbert Junior High School, Franklin Parish; and, the 2017 High School Teacher of the Year is Mr. Torrence Williams, West Feliciana Parish High School, West Feliciana Parish.

The 2017 Elementary School Principal of the Year is Ms. Elizabeth Cook, Cypress Point University Elementary School, Monroe City Schools; the 2017 Middle School Principal of the Year is Mr. Kenny Delcambre, Sixth Ward Middle School, Lafourche Parish; and, the 2017 High School Principal of the Year is Mr. Joey LaRoche, KIPP Renaissance High School, KIPP New Orleans Schools.

“Great teachers and principals open the door for our children to achieve their dreams,” said Dr. Holly Boffy, vice president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the 2010 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year. “Celebrating the efforts of Louisiana’s outstanding educators through the Teacher and Principal of the Year program is just a small way of acknowledging the exceptional work and long hours these individuals put in every day to prepare our students for their future. This year’s finalists represent the top of our profession in our state, and on behalf of BESE I wish to thank them for their commitment and congratulate them on the honor.”

Also honored during the evening’s festivities was the Louisiana Association of School Executive’s Superintendent of the Year, Darrell Fairburn of Washington Parish. Mr. Fairburn is in his 10th year at the helm of the Washington Parish school system. Under his leadership, the Washington Parish school system has improved the district’s letter grade to a B; increased graduation rates 5.8 percentage points over the last five years from 76.8 in 2010 to 82.6 in 2015; and, increased the percentage of students performing at Mastery on state assessments by 12 percentage points from 2013 to 2015, from 17 percent to 29 percent. Prior to his tenure in Washington Parish, Mr. Fairburn spent 17 years at Sumner High School in Tangipahoa Parish where he was principal and coached track and basketball before being appointed Supervisor of Personnel for the district.

Dream Teachers, a non-profit organization founded in 2006 for the purpose of recognizing Louisiana’s finest educators and education leaders and to encourage educational excellence, served as presenting sponsor of the 10th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium.

Other sponsors for the event included the Albermarle Foundation, the Boo Grigsby Foundation, Entergy, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors, Roy O. Martin, Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge, School Aids, Billy Heroman’s, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Community Coffee, Scott Equipment, The Picard Group, Richards Honda, Lamar Advertising, Moran Printing, Enterprise, Coca-Cola, Regions Bank, and Innovative Analytics.

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