Apr 17, 2023
Awards honor early education teachers and administrators who care for and educate infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

(BATON ROUGE, LA) - The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) announced today its 2024 Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year finalists. These 10 teachers and leaders represent early childhood care and education sites across the state. This is the second year the LDOE has presented these awards, which are designed to honor the early education teachers and administrators who care for and educate infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

“I’m grateful for the remarkable teachers and leaders who support Louisiana’s children during this critical developmental stage in their lives,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Congratulations to the finalists. They represent the many talented early care and education professionals across our state.” 

The five finalists for Louisiana’s Early Childhood Teacher of the Year are: 
  • Caldwell Parish: Stephanie Eubanks, Kelly Early Childhood Center (Head Start)
  • Lafourche Parish: Phedra Jackson, Lafourche Head Start
  • Rapides Parish: Elizabeth Berry, Foundations Christian Learning Center
  • Rapides Parish: Jennifer Cifelli, Foundations Christian Learning Center
  • West Baton Rouge Parish: LeighAnn LaCour, Port Allen Elementary School (Head Start)
The five finalists for Early Childhood Leader of the Year are: 
  • East Baton Rouge Parish: Tara Emery, London Bridge Early Learning Center, L.L.C.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish: Megan Garretson, Young Scholars Academy
  • Iberville Parish: Xavier Anderson, A Garden of Angels Learning Center/Academy
  • Jefferson Parish: Arielle Hughes, Carousel Preschool
  • Rapides Parish: Jamie Martin, Munchkinland Child Development Centers, LLC  
All Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year finalists will be honored at the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala, which will be held at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans on the evening of July 22.

The Louisiana Department of Education recognizes that great teachers and leaders are critical to the development of our children. The Department, in partnership with Dream Teachers, recognizes and celebrates some of Louisiana’s most exceptional early childhood educators through the Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year program. These programs provide an opportunity to acknowledge those teachers and leaders who are exceptional representatives of a critical profession. These dedicated educators deserve to be recognized for their contribution to the lives of our state’s children and their future success in school and life.

Candidates are early childhood education teachers and leaders who serve birth-five year old economically-disadvantaged children, children who are in publicly-funded programs, children who have disabilities, and/or children who are experiencing homelessness, by working in a Type III child care center, an Early Head Start or Head Start Center, or in a Family Child Care site with academic approval.

For questions about the Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year programs, email devon.camarota@la.gov.