Jul 28, 2017

Elementary, middle and high school educators honored at annual awards gala

BATON ROUGE, La.- The Louisiana Department of Education tonight announced the 2018 Louisiana State Teacher and Principal of the Year at the 11th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Awards Gala. Kimberly Eckert, of Brusly High School in West Baton Rouge Parish, was named the 2018 State Teacher of the Year, and Thomas Byler, of North Vermilion High School in Vermilion Parish, was named the 2018 State Principal of the Year.

2018 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year

Eckert has been teaching for nine years. She is currently an English I teacher at Brusly High School, but has also served as a special education inclusion teacher, a reading interventionist, a speech teacher, a mentor teacher, a master teacher, and an instructional coach. Through these roles, she has earned numerous accolades. Eckert has been named the regional Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (LACUE) Teacher of the Year twice-first in 2012-2013 for regional middle schools and most recently in 2016 for regional high schools; selected as her district's Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2012-2013 for her work as a special educator in Port Allen Middle School; presented the Kagan Scholarship; and given the Discovery Star Educator award. In addition to her teaching awards, Eckert has secured several grants to further educational initiatives, presented at local and state conferences and has had her work on integrating technology for struggling learners in a flipped classroom featured in LACUE publications and her students' work showcased on WAFB, a Baton Rouge news station, on multiple occasions.

2018 Louisiana State Principal of the Year

Byler has held various leadership positions during his 26-year career in education. He is currently the principal of North Vermilion High School. Under his leadership, the school has remained an A-rated school, and the school's performance score has increased from a 92.9 to 119.0 over three years. Prior to taking the helm as principal, Byler served as the school's assistant principal, athletic director and head football coach. Before joining the staff at North Vermilion, he was an athletic director and the head coach of basketball and softball at Erath High School. Byler also  taught Biology II - Anatomy and Physiology, Physical Science and Algebra I. In addition to his classroom and leadership experience, he has held active roles in in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and the Louisiana Association of Student Councils.

(To read more about the overall winners, click here).

"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."

In addition to announcing the overall state winners, the Department named the 2018 Elementary, Middle and High School Teacher and Principal of the Year winners. The 2018 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Rosemary Grimm of Princeton Elementary School in Bossier Parish; the 2018 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Marcy Mahler, of Sixth Ward Middle School in Lafourche Parish; and the 2018 High School Teacher of the Year is Angelina Drago, of Hammond High Magnet School in Tangipahoa Parish.

The 2018 Elementary School Principal of the Year is Cleo Perry, Jr, of Crestworth Elementary School in East Baton Rouge Parish; the 2018 Middle School Principal of the Year is Bobbye Delaney, of South Cameron High School in Cameron Parish; and the 2018 High School Principal of the Year is David Gray, of Union High School in Union Parish.

All 2018 Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists and semifinalists were also celebrated, along with Louisiana's two Milken Educator Award winners and the Louisiana Association of School Executive's Superintendent of the Year. Catherine Randall, an educator in St. Bernard Parish, and Devon Willis-Jones, a principal in Iberia Parish, received the Milken awards, and W.L. Trey Folse, the Superintendent of St. Tammy Parish, was honored as the State District Superintendent of the Year.

(To view a full list of winners, finalists and semi-finalists, click here). 

The annual awards ceremony, held at the Crowne Plaza Executive Center in Baton Rouge, is co-sponsored by 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. The event, now in its 11th year, drew its largest attendance to date, with a sold-out crowd of more than 700 guests.

In recent years participation in the Teacher and Principal of the Year programs has greatly increased. Since 2014, the number of districts submitting both teacher and principal applications has increased by 200 percent; the total number of teacher and principal nominations has grown about 300 percent; and charter participation has climbed from one single application to 32.

The 2018 Teacher of the Year finalists represent various subject areas, including Math, English Language Arts and Arts Integration, Special Education, Agriscience, and Career and Technical Education. Eleven of the 48 honorees are male.

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