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Public Schools Close For Holidays; Classes Resume January 3
Christmas/Winter Break started at midday, Friday, December 21. Classes resume on Thursday, January 3, 2008.
School Board Offices were closed Monday through Wednesday, December 24 through December 26, and reopened Thursday, December 27. For the New Year’s Holiday, offices were closed Monday through Wednesday, December 31 through January 2, 2008. School Board offices reopen Thursday, January 3.
Woodlake Elementary Wins “Hope For Education” Contest
Woodlake Elementary School will receive $200,000 in technology products and software from Samsung Electronics and the Microsoft Corporation upon being chosen the National Grand Prize winner of their 2007 “Hope for Education” contest. Principal Jean Krieger and her students recently were honored at the Instructional Technology Center in Mandeville at a special event at which Dr. Krieger was presented with a symbolic check representing the award, and students were entertained by a musical concert by Aly and AJ, a popular, well-known sister duo.
Corporate executives from Microsoft and Samsung announced that Woodlake Elementary School parents John and Lauren Markezich had submitted the entry that was selected for the grand prize award over 8200 entries from schools across the country. The technology award includes flat screen televisions, computers, digital cameras, DVD players, and LCD monitors for the school.
Through Samsung’s “Friends for Life” program, the school also received a specially-trained black Labrador named Kali, a new helper for Special Education Teacher Joel Hamm in working with her special education students.
Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price welcomed corporate guests S. W. Hong, executive vice president of Samsung North America; Lisa Faia with Microsoft; and Steve Cook, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Samsung North America to the area and then congratulated the school on its achievement.
Dr. Krieger said, “I’m excited to see how the children will react. There will now be computers in every classroom, spread out across the school so every child, every day, will have the chance to be touched by this technology. It’s wonderful to have support like this. It will give Woodlake a head start on keeping up with technology.”
Mr. Cook said the technology will help students to develop their full potential. “The Hope for Education program helps children aspire to do their best in a very competitive workforce. We are striving to understand what the needs are in education, so we can do more as a company.” He said the program enabled his company to “give back” to the community, and one goal of the effort was to help schools hit hard by Hurricane Katrina.
Woodlake Elementary’s administration and faculty were credited with accomplishing much in the way of preparing their students for the future and its use of technology.
Ms. Faia said that Microsoft is aiming to help students use techonology that is interesting and meaningful to them. “We are excited to work with Samsung to support local educational programs,” she said, noting that the 8200+ entries in the contest prove that teachers and administrators realize the important role technology plays in the educational experience.
The children enjoyed several songs performed by recording artists Aly and AJ Michalka, and the two performers enjoyed learning the school’s “firecracker” hand motions. The young performers said they intend to add the “firecracker” to their performances on tour -- So a little bit of Woodlake Elementary School will be shared across the country.
District Begins Standard Bearer Process
| Along the road to continued improvement, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System has become part of a select network of school districts across the country taking part in a new program to bring greater focus to improvement efforts.
Called the Standard-Bearer School District Network, the new program will help identify core School System goals, practices related to those goals, and effectiveness in reaching those goals.
The Standard Bearer program was developed and is monitored by the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform of Louisville, Kentucky, an organization that provides technical support to school reform efforts across the Nation. The School System is a member of the Schlechty Center network and recently undertook this challenging program to focus on goals that help ensure that all students are well-educated, which is the program’s key initiative.
The process requires that several commitments be made by participating school districts, such as identifying the system’s “core business,” clearly defining goals and the results of reaching those goals, and adhering to a new strategy called “Working on the Work (WOW).” By developing the capacity to effectively address areas of high importance, the Standard-Bearer School District carries on its “core business,” which is defined as ensuring that every student, every day is provided challenging, interesting, and satisfying work.
The Schlechty Center emphasizes the direct link between the kind of assignments students are provided and the willingness of students to engage in schoolwork. The more willing students are to engage in and persist in their work, the more likely they are to learn what schools, parents, and community deem important, according to Schlechty program guidelines.
Above all, the Standard-Bearer network emphasizes the development of leaders whose main purpose is to develop other leaders. This professional development is important if any one leader leaves the system, other leaders will be ready to fill the gap and encourage additional leaders themselves. A “Principals Academy” also is part of the program to sharpen administrative leadership skills.
Superintendent Gayle Sloan said the School System will be working closely with the Schlechty Center during the Standard Bearer process, adding that it is one of the finest groups she has ever seen in education circles. “The program calls for a systemwide audit to determine which structures are already in place to support the continued improvements that we are striving for,” Sloan said. An annual review of the Working on the Work strategy will help the School System assess its progress within the Standard-Bearer network.
“Being selected for the Standard Bearer program is going to be really helpful in a number of ways,” Superintendent Sloan said. “Because we will network with a large number of high-quality school districts already in the Standard Bearer process, we will be able to get valuable insight in many areas of school improvement from other systems.”
Mrs. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, said, “Our high school and junior high administrators are excited about the opportunities that the Schlecty Center has to offer. The training they have attended and collaboration among their peers have been valuable as they lead their schools focusing on student engagement. The resources and networking will continue to assist our administrators as they are setting their vision for their school.”
The group has already helped the School District by recommending that St. Tammany contact a school district in Georgia widely-known for its excellent student transportation system where administration officials could find ideas that might of benefit to the St. Tammany Public School System bus service.
Classes Go On At Fontainebleau High School After Disruption
Classes at Fontainebleau High School were disrupted somewhat on Wednesday, first before school began and then near the end of school, as special precaution was taken to evacuate the school as a result of bomb threats.
The first was called in to the 9-1-1 emergency line and Sheriff’s Department officers searched the school. Everyone already at school or arriving at school was directed to the stadium during the search. Finding nothing of concern, officers determined the school safe for students and staff to enter, and classes began shortly after the normal starting time for school.
Out of an abundance of caution, the school was evacuated late in the school day, when someone reported possibly overhearing a verbal threat. Law enforcement officials again searched the school and found nothing. Students and staff were able to return to classes before routine dismissal for the day.
School and law enforcement officials take any threat seriously and are encouraging anyone with information to contact the school at 892-7112 or the anonymous Safe School Crimestopper Tip Line at 1-877-903-7867. Parents also are urged to check with the school for reliable information about this or any other school matter. During incidents such as the ones experienced at the school Wednesday, rumors can develop quickly and spread misinformation that can be equally disruptive to school.
As always, security at Fontainebleau High School will be closely monitored and students will be encouraged to maintain a positive and normal school routine this week.
New Transportation Director Hired
|Ronald J. Despenza, a native of the New Orleans area, with over 30 years of experience in public sector transportation administration, has begun work as the newly-appointed Director of Transportation for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System. Mr. Despenza was hired after a two-month search for applicants nationwide.
During his first week in the School System, he met with Transportation Department staff, bus owners/operators and administrative personnel at special “Meet and Greet” events in both Slidell and Mandeville.
Mr. Despenza is a 1987 graduate of Southern University of New Orleans with a Bachelor of Science degree in Transportation Management. He has served for the past 16 years as Director of Transportation for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada, which serves more than 294,000 students. There he oversaw an annual transportation budget of $89 million and the operation and maintenance of 1400 school buses. He supervised as many as 1800 employees in his department.
Among his duties in Nevada were the research and implementation of the computerized bus routing and scheduling system Edulog, a system the St. Tammany Parish Public School System has used for several years. After implementing the System in the Clark County School District, the district was able to save in excess of $10 million, according to Mr. Despenza.
Before his position in Nevada, he was Assistant Director of Transportation and a Supervisor for Driver Training and Safety for the Orleans Parish School Board.He also served as a Motor Vehicle Technology Instructor for Delgado Junior College in New Orleans.
In commenting about his new position, Mr. Despenza said he is settling in, learning the way the bus system works in St. Tammany, and looking for a house to move into. “The administration here has been extremely helpful in getting me acclimated,” he said. “I’ve gotten a warm welcome everywhere I’ve gone.” He added that his goal here is to provide a high level of service in the Transportation Department.
Energy Conservation Effort Promoted in Schools
Schools for Energy Efficiency (SEE) is a new program being launched in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System this year to help reduce energy costs. The program focuses on doing simple things each day that will cut power consumption by 10 percent over the course of the year.
“Energy is one of the top three expenditures in our district,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan, in announcing the program. “We spend on average $215 per student each year on energy, so our goal of reducing energy waste by 10 percent will translate into more than $700,000 a year in savings.”
The theme of the SEE Campaign is “You Have the Power” -- the power to make the simple changes in day-to-day activities that help save energy and cut down on pollution as well. “So we are not only saving money, we’re teaching the children in our district about doing the right thing, for themselves and for future generations,” Mrs. Sloan stated.
The systemwide energy reduction efforts are being coordinated with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to achieve Energy Star status for schools that accomplish significant reductions in energy usage.
Students Earn Credits In New Welding Classes
A new vocational program at Fontainebleau High School, the only one of its kind in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, is teaching students the art of welding. With the program in its second year, Instructor John O’Bryant is excited about the response to the program.
Forty students are taking part in the Level 1 welding class, and seven students are in the Level 2 class. The Sullivan campus of the Louisiana Technical College (LTC) in Bogalusa is working in partnership with Fontainebleau High School on the program, supplying some materials; dual enrollment status with the vo-tech school; and, on occasion, judges to oversee welding competitions.
While other high schools teach welding skills as a part of other shop classes, O’Bryant said the Level 2 students receive a lot of hands-on welding experience in the special two-hour class time, and that ongoing welding time helps them earn certification and get jobs right out of high school if they choose. “One of my students last year got a job as a tacker and started making $25 an hour right out of high school,” O’Bryant reported. “It’s a program in which students can see definite value.”
Mr. O’Bryant is looking forward to continued improvements in the teaching facility at Fontainebleau High, as new welding booths are built and newer machines are ordered and installed. Learning to weld not only takes time, but also good-quality machines drawing the correct electric current. Keeping pace with the machines and techniques used in industry helps, and Mr. O’Bryant appreciates the efforts by Sullivan campus officials, Fontainebleau High School’s administration, and the students themselves to actively keep up with the skills and equipment needed.
While welding is normally a part of a diversified high school shop program where a variety of skills were taught, welding now has become a class of its own at Fontainebleau High. By being more focused now, the program is giving students greater opportunity to develop their welding skills. Also, students exit the program having a choice of options available to them. They earn articulated credit at any LTC campus, which will start them on their way to a full degree in Welding, and they also earn the entry-level workplace certification, which will allow them to immediately enter into the workforce if they wish.
Will Wainwright, Regional Director of the Louisiana Technical College System, said that the program at Fontainebleau High has been doing a great job in preparing students with the needed career skills. “With their expertise in using the new welding technologies, there will be even greater opportunities to expand into in-depth training for the students,” he said. “We’re excited about this program, since the equipment they are going to be using will be exactly what they will see in industry.” He sees welding as a basic skill that can open doors into many different career paths, including manufacturing, fabricating, and shipbuilding, for example.
“Welding is an art,” Mr. O’Bryant explained. “Some of my students have a real knack for it. I tell them that every welder has a different style, so to learn it requires someone to do the absolute best they can.”
Part of the program is taking part in competitions, weekly in the class itself and, on occasion, at the district level when the top students go to the Sullivan campus in Bogalusa, as well as the area level in Baton Rouge. Mr. O’Bryant’s group is doing well in those competitions. In the process, teams develop confidence as team members help each other become even better welders.
District Teachers of the Year Announced for 2007-2008
|Three St. Tammany Parish Public School System Teachers have been selected District Teachers of the Year for 2007-2008, one at the elementary level, another at the middle school/junior high level and a third at the high school level. All three were honored at the November School Board meeting.
Kelly Marcelle Stomps, a third grade teacher at Woodlake Elementary School in Mandeville, won the elementary division honor. Stephanie Purser, a fourth grade teacher at Bonne Ecole Elementary, was named Middle School/Junior High Division winner; and Barry Dotson, High School Division winner, teaches ninth grade mathematics at Fontainebleau High School.
Mr. Dotson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of New Orleans in 1985 and has 22 years of teaching experience. He has been a member of several professional associations, including the Louisiana High School Coaches Association and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. At Fontainebleau High, he serves as varsity boys basketball coach and has coached the tennis and golf teams.
He credited his own high school teachers for inspiring him to pursue a career in education. While studying the field of electrical engineering, he realized that he enjoyed greater fulfillment in his tutoring of others and coaching youth sports teams, so he made the switch to education. “My life has been and is continually being enriched by the accomplishments of my kids,” he said in looking back over the many students he has taught in the past two decades.
Mr. Dotson says he never hesitates to “beg, borrow, or steal” new ideas from his teaching colleagues, and, according to Mr. Dotson, “Working alongside many gifted educators has allowed me a tremendous insight into my field.” In his classroom, he tries to create an open learning environment where his students can exchange ideas, debate, overcome difficulties, and understand what is being taught.
Mr. Dotson also stated that he knows that change is inevitable, especially in the way young people adapt to technology and gather information. “To communicate effectively with today’s students, we must be receptive to change,” he concluded. “It’s an awesome challenge today to keep students on track.”
Ms. Stomps, a classroom music instructor, has taught for seven years and currently teaches students from all grade levels at Woodlake Elementary School. She graduated from Louisiana State University with a Masters in Music in 2005 after receiving a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 2000. She also conducts the Suzuki Strings program at the school.
She is a member of several professional organizations and has served as president of the Red Stick Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerek Association for the past two years. That professional organization helps music educators promote the creative use of music and movement. “I truly believe that music unlocks the secret of success for children,” she told the School Board.
Her career started with her joyous discovery of her own musical skills in first grade. Today, she shares that love of music with her students in any way she can. “I believe music is a unique world that is related to other subjects,” she said. “The best way for students to learn and understand music is through experience and active participation.”
Principal Jean Krieger stated that Ms. Stomps works with all the students at Woodlake Elementary during the week and over the past five years has taught them a variety of patriotic and seasonal songs. “This creates a wonderful atmosphere and climate for the day,” she said.
Ms. Purser is a fourth grade teacher at Bonne Ecole Elementary School, also with a total of seven years of teaching experience. She graduated from Louisiana State University in 1998 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. In 2007, she began coursework with Northwestern State University for a Master’s Degree in Education with a Concentration in Educational Technology Leadership.
Her professional affiliations include memberships in the National Council of Teachers of Math and the Louisiana Reading Association. She vividly remembers the moment when she suddenly understood fractions after years of difficulty; and, from that point on, her efforts to become a teacher were motivated by wanting to help children understand the wonders of mathematics by discovering how each individual student learned best.
Teaching became her calling, and giving each student a chance to discover his or her own best way to learn was her method. Keeping her students actively engaged in the learning process is the key, she said. “To promote a sense of security, I subscribe to Responsive Classroom techniques,” Ms. Purser stated. The goal of the Responsive Classroom methods is to establish a safe, challenging, and joyful environment for learning early in the school year through increased student awareness of what is expected of them.
Another priority for her is the growing use of educational technology, which is no longer an option in the teaching profession. “It is essential that teachers enable their students to one-day compete in the business world by providing them with classroom experiences using available technology,” she explained.
Mrs. Ginger Roper, Ms. Purser’s former principal at Bonne Ecole Elementary, complimented her for her energy and enthusiasm. “Her students’ expectations for both achievement and behavior are set high,” Mrs. Roper said. “She is constantly improving her teaching techniques through continuing education, therefore bringing even greater learning opportunities to her students.”
Ms. Purser gives credit for her success to the ideas shared among her colleagues for making education work for students. She tries to bring positive attitudes to her classroom to help captivate and motivate her students in their efforts to learn.
Every school in the district chooses a School Teacher of the Year and from those, three are chosen to represent the district in the three grade level divisions. District winners are eligible for Regional selection, and from there they can advance to the Louisiana State Teacher of the Year competition.
Teacher of the Year candidates are judged on specific criteria, including teaching skills; certification; plans to continue in the profession; respect of students, parents and colleagues; community leadership; affiliation with professional educational organizations; knowledge of education policy; and demonstration of a superior ability to inspire students of diverse backgrounds and abilities to learn.
Public Schools Will Close For Thanksgiving Holidays November 19 through November 23
School is out for a week-long break from Monday, November 19, and running through Friday, November 23, in observance of the Thanksgiving Holidays.
Classes resume on Monday, November 26.
St. Tammany Parish Public School System offices and support facilities will be closed Thursday and Friday.
School Bus Fuel Adjustment Will Help Ease Current Fuel Pump Shock For Owners and Operators
Drastic increases in fuel prices in recent weeks and particularly in diesel fuel prices are causing concerns among school bus owners and operators, who have seen diesel prices rise to the highest level ever recorded, with a 36 cents per gallon increase in this month to date. Although the School System has for many years provided a fuel adjustment allowance to help owners and operators deal with significant fuel cost increases, concerns have reached rumor level that the System will cap its fuel adjustment during this time. School System officials have no intention of putting a cap on the adjustment and are continuing to follow the practice of determining the monthly fuel adjustment for bus owners and operators based on diesel fuel prices recorded on the fifteenth of the month.
The adjustment formula provides a one cent per mile increase in fuel cost allotment for every five cents per gallon increase in diesel fuel costs. The monthly fuel adjustment is based on the diesel fuel prices found in the AAA Fuel Gauge Report for the New Orleans area on the fifteenth of each month. If prices on November 15 hold at current levels, the School System fuel adjustment for the month will be a 7 cents per mile increase in fuel allotment costs, based on the 36 cents per gallon increase from last month divided by 5 cents. This estimated adjustment is subject to change, based on the actual November 15 recorded cost of diesel fuel.
Bus owners and operators who have questions about the adjustment may contact the School System Transportation Department for information.
Elementary Schools Fencing Project Is Completed
To help improve security and better control access to schools, fences around the perimeters of all St. Tammany Parish Public School campuses became a high priority last year, and the elementary school portion of the project is completed.
According to George Gouzy, Director of Purchasing, bids are currently going out for the next phase of the project for middle schools and junior high schools. The elementary school phase cost $138,000 of the total $700,000 allocated for the two-year project.
The four- to six-foot high fencing is aimed at controlling access from the outside by focusing school visitors toward one or two entry points. The fences also will help keep students within campus boundaries while school is in session.
The fencing of school campuses is just part of several security-enhancing initiatives being conducted by the School System. Other recent initiatives include addition of School Resource Officers at all high schools, a partnership with the Crimestoppers Safe School Hotline, a visitor identification system currently being piloted in some schools; and other measures are being considered
In addition, a recent $500,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Education will be used to help schools upgrade their emergency response plans and provide first responders with information that will allow first responders to be familiar with school layouts before they arrive at the scene of an emergency.
Access To Care Program Helps Hurricane Emotional Victims
Individuals, as well as their family members, who were directly affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma may be eligible for assistance through the “Access To Care” program, which can provide up to $2000 per person in reimbursement for mental health or substance abuse treatment.
Access To Care is designed to help individuals cope with difficult emotional issues regardless of residence, insurance coverage, or immigration status. To enroll, call 1-866-794-4673 before March 31, 2008.
You are eligible for Access to Care if you:
• Lived in a pre-disaster ZIP code prior to landfall in one of the counties designated by FEMA for individual assistance following Katrina, Rita or Wilma and suffered significant impact, such as:
• Displaced from home or school
• Participated in the rescue and recovery efforts
• Sustained severe damage or destruction of residence
• Lost employment
• Sustained and obtained medical treatment for a physical injury caused by one of the hurricanes
• Other significant impact - a direct result of the hurricane and/or continued challenges as a result of the hurricanes
• Lost an immediate family member, defined as grandparent, grandchild, spouse, partner, parent, child, sibling, step-parent, step-sibling or step-child, because of one of the hurricanes.
For any questions, call Melissa Groover, Education Program Consultant, at (225)342-3351, the Department’s toll free number listed above, or email Ms. Groover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposed Learning Park Has Widespread Benefits to Community
A proposed shared educational facility in St. Tammany Parish, said to be the first of its kind in the state, is gaining momentum as parish government, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, and three area post-secondary institutions continue discussions about the concept and preliminary design.
The School Board approved support of the concept at its October meeting. The plans are to build a consolidated college and high school campus on 25 acres near Lacombe. The space allocated to each institution has not yet been finalized.
The learning park, referred to as “University Square,” would include facilities for Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of New Orleans, and Delgado Community College and would be the first complex in the state where colleges share the same site. The high school would teach advanced courses in science, technology, and the arts.
The site lies east of Louisiana 434 and north of Interstate 12. Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Development Co., part of one of the largest timber producing companies in the nation, donated the land, which is part of 885 acres set aside for a town center development surrounded by 1,400 homes.
The high school component would accommodate about 300 students. Students from all public high schools would have the opportunity to take advanced studies in science, technology, and the arts in a university-like setting. St. Tammany Parish Public School System Superintendent Gayle Sloan said that the students would still be based at their home high schools and attend the basic academic classes and extracurricular activities there, then travel to the centrally-located high school for special studies. Students would be expected to be self-motivated, focused in their studies, and well-disciplined.
“This is going to be a fantastic opportunity for us,” Mrs. Sloan stated. 'We see this learning park having tremendous potential for all of our students. The park is intended to meet the diverse needs of our entire Parish community.”
The idea was discussed at the last School Board retreat as a possible option to better serve students willing to apply extra effort in advanced students, allowing many to earn high school and college credits at the same time. “For some time now, we have investigated and dreamed of a facility that would provide advanced and expanded opportunities for our students. Our initial idea was a Northshore Performing Arts Center in partnership with SLU, and that developed into the Northshore School of the Arts, which is a continuing success,” Mrs. Sloan said.
In 2004, school and community officials visited a new high school in California designed to teach advanced classes in arts and technology. “That led us to envision an arts and technology facility of our own,” she further explained. The research continued with a planned visit to the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) in August of 2005, but Hurricane Katrina intervened.
Parish President Kevin Davis told the School Board that the consolidated campus would help bring the college classes together to one central location. Currently the institutions rent classroom space scattered throughout the Parish, including Southeastern which has a sizeable presence at the Koop Drive office building near parish government headquarters.
College representatives told the School Board the project provides students with a tremendous opportunity to learn from a variety of schools. "The University of New Orleans is highly committed to this parish, and we're very pleased to be included," said UNO representative Norma Grace.
Officials hope to make vocational-technical training also a part of the concept, since the Slidell Technical College was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina two years ago and has not been rebuilt. Vo-tech students from St. Tammany have had to travel to out-of-parish campuses in Bogalusa and Hammond to complete their programs. Parish President Davis said the Parish would not wait for the vo-tech school in Slidell to be rebuilt by the state. “We want to move on this,” he stated.
Davis also told the School Board that Parish government is planning to finance the building of the structures needed for the college classes through a lease-purchase agreement. The School System would be given land to build its own high school. The high school would be done in a phased program, with bond issue money being used to build the facility, according to Superintendent Sloan.
Davis hopes to have the college buildings completed and open for classes within two years. Preliminary drawings of the campus illustrate the common resources to be shared by the institutions: green space, retention ponds, athletic fields, and a library. The library may be built and staffed by the St. Tammany Parish Library System, if initial discussions for that agency to participate materialize. The complex also will offer a performing arts center and student union. Davis said the colleges are excited about the prospect of saving money by sharing the common areas.
Schools Are Taking Extra Care in Prevention of Infectious Conditions
In light of recent attention given to staph infections across the country, we are taking extra precautions in our schools. St. Tammany Parish Public School System officials are in contact with the Department of Public Health and follow Health Department and Centers for Disease Control recommendations as needed to help prevent the spread of infectious conditions. In addition, we are urging that all students and staff follow “universal precautions” for proper hand washing at home and at school, as always, to help prevent the spread of all infectious conditions.
Ribbon Is Cut On New Covington High School Administrative Section
The official opening of the new main entrance and administrative office complex at Covington High School was held October 22, with a number of special guests on hand for the occasion. Principal Danny Guillory cut the ribbon surrounded by School Board officials, Mayor Candace Watkins of Covington, architect representatives, and Covington High personnel, including Past Principals Betty Cronin, Jack Loup, and Catherine Boesch; Denise Wagner, daughter of former Principal Louis Wagner; and former Coach Jack Salter.
Superintendent Gayle Sloan made a few remarks, noting the event was the result of a team effort across St. Tammany Parish in support of the bond issue that financed the $2.4 million project. “This project helps clearly define Covington High, gives it a modern look, and links the old with the new. Our Board is absolutely committed to provide this kind of support for one of our premiere schools,” she said.
Mr. Guillory thanked the community for passing the bond issue and making improvements to school facilities a priority and explained that the new administration section is one of two construction phases for a project funded by the 2004 Bond Issue. The second phase of the project, a new library and multi-media technology center, is currently under construction and is expected to be completed during the spring semester.
The striking design of the new area helps parents and visitors recognize the main front entrance to the school, he went on to say. “No more guessing which door to enter to make your way to the front office. This new addition has been much-needed for a long time now,” he said, adding that it provides a welcoming area, a variety of office spaces for administrative personnel, the School Resource Office, the School Nurse, and attendance office personnel. Also included are conference rooms for special education meetings and professional development. The new section centralizes many of the student services offices, Guillory noted.
Also present were School Board Members Beth Heintz, Charles Harrell, Jack Loup, and Michael Dirmann; Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse; Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Cheryl Arabie; Denise Barnes, Senior Supervisor for Secondary Instruction; Kieran J. Weldon, Executive Vice President of Fauntleroy & Latham Architects; and Sandy James, Career Technical Coordinator. Members of the ambassadors association and Will Wainwright, Regional Nine Director of the Louisiana Technical College System and Dean of Sullivan Technical College in Bogalusa also attended.
Guests were treated to music by Covington High students, playing under the direction of teacher Mel Rogers, and to a tour of the new facility.
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College and Career Fair Scheduled To Be Held October 29
The Fall 2007 College and Career Fair hosted by the College Counseling Center will be held on Monday, October 29, at Fontainebleau High School. Students in Grades 9 through 12 are invited to attend, along with their parents, to hear from a number of college and university representatives.
The two-hour event begins at 6:00 p.m., with 75 institutions expected to have tables offering a variety of printed information and representatives on hand to answer questions.
For a list of the participating educational institutions and other agencies, CLICK HERE. Call 985-898-6478 for additional information.
School Board Encourages Observance of National School Lunch Week
The week of October 15 through October 19 is National School Lunch Week, and schools throughout the St. Tammany Parish Public School System are participating in the event with a wide variety of programs and special menus. National School Lunch Week provides a good opportunity to focus on the need for healthy eating habits and the nutritional meals offered through the School Food Service Program.
Schools are offering special presentations and decorations as students observe the event. The theme of this year’s National School Lunch Week is “Vote for School Lunch.” Many parents, grandparents, School Board members, and state and local officials are visiting schools this week to take part in the special activities.
At its October meeting, the School Board last week passed a resolution thanking the many Student Nutrition Advisory Councils; Mrs. Sylvia Dunn, Director of School Food Services, and her staff; and the many Food Service Managers and technicians in the schools for providing an excellent School Food Service program.
The School System’s Food Service Program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with its Gold Certification for outstanding work in providing nutritious meals and nutrition education to go along with them. The “Go, Glow and Grow” informational program has been particularly effective in providing students good nutrition pointers. Also the Food Service Department was spotlighted in a recent USA Today article series on nutrition in the schools.
The St. Tammany Parish Food Service Program serves approximately 8,927 breakfasts and 26,098 lunches daily to students and employees.
Emergency Drill Is Conducted At Fontainebleau High and Fontainebleau Junior High schools Friday, October 12
Unusual activity at Fontainebleau High and Fontainebleau Junior High Schools is no reason for concern. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and the School System are staging an emergency drill at the high school campus, with participants from a variety of law enforcement and first responder agencies and some pre-selected and trained school personnel and students who will take part in the mock event. The junior high campus is the operation center for the event.
In an ongoing effort to maintain safe schools for students and staff, the St. Tammany Parish School System is working cooperatively with the Sheriff’s Office to simulate a shooting incident that will allow officials to evaluate existing emergency preparation and response plans.
Only Sheriff-designated individuals are permitted on the campuses of both Fontainebleau High and Fontainebleau Junior High during the drill. The drill is expected to end by 1 p.m.
Drill Helps With Emergency Preparation and Response
As part of an ongoing effort to maintain safe schools, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and the St. Tammany Parish School System staged an emergency drill at Fontainebleau High School October 12, to allow officials to evaluate existing emergency preparation and response plans. A variety of law enforcement and first-responder agencies, including local and municipal police departments, participated in the event, as well as about 100 school personnel and 100 students who were pre-selected and trained for the drill. The event simulated response to an active shooter on a school campus.
The drill gave officials a real-time testing of emergency response plans, a natural outgrowth of emergency planning that the School System has done on paper over the years. The drill, which was five months in the making, was the next logical step in emergency preparation.
According to Captain Tim Lentz of the Sheriff’s Office, who coordinated the activity, this drill will serve as a model plan for response not only at schools but also at agencies, businesses, and other entities in the parish. Safety of all concerned was an important emphasis during the exercise, and officials took extraordinary care in staging the event. The result was a well-executed exercise from beginning to end.
Gayle Sloan, Superintendent of Schools, said, “Although we enjoy life in a safe community, with safe schools, we know that no community is immune to the possibility of acts of violence. We must be as prepared as possible to respond effectively to emergencies on our school campuses, if the need arises.”
“We have worked over the years with law enforcement and first responder officials in helping our schools prepare emergency plans, and we have sat across tables with them discussing ways to maintain and improve security,” she added. “This drill was the next step needed to help all of us determine the strengths and weaknesses of our preparation and response plans. We know that in an emergency situation skills like good judgment and good instincts are essential. Drills like these help to hone those skills,” Mrs. Sloan said.
Sheriff Jack Strain said, “I hope that at the end of today school administrators, law enforcement personnel, and families across St. Tammany understand that we accept the fact that something like this can occur and that we have prepared for just about any scenario. We will respond quickly, we will respond with the appropriate assets, and we will deal with any situation, to bring it to a fast end and to save as many lives as we can.”
Fontainebleau Junior High School was used as the operation center for the drills. All schools were closed for students for the day, to permit a pre-scheduled day of record-keeping and professional development for teachers.
Both law enforcement and school officials will spend time de-briefing from the drill. The two groups will use the information they gained to follow up with emergency plan revisions if needed. Continued collaboration is expected to be a mainstay of communication with all involved.
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Students Will Not Attend School Friday, October 12
Students in St. Tammany public schools will have the day off on Friday, October 12, to give teachers half-a-day for record keeping and the other half-a-day for professional development sessions. Classes will resume on Monday, October 15, 2007.
Ronnie Richmond Is Named Director of Maintenance and Custodial Services
Former Assistant Supervisor of Maintenance Ronnie Richmond has been appointed the new Director of Maintenance and Custodian Services, following the retirement of Jim Scharf last month. Mr. Richmond, a native of Slidell, has served as Assistant Supervisor for the past 15 years. He will oversee a department of approximately 95 employees.
He told the School Board at a recent meeting that he and his staff are discussing new ideas to continue improving his department’s efficiency, both in maintenance and custodial services. Mr. Richmond expressed his confidence in the personnel within the department and in their ability to continue providing outstanding service in the maintenance of schools and other System facilities.
Parish Fair Features Educational Exhibits of School Histories
The Educational Exhibits theme for this year’s St. Tammany Parish Fair
“Recapturing Our History” gave fairgoers an interesting overview of the history of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, school by school. On display in more than 50 exhibit booths were photos, drawings, and items from the past, as well as the creative work of students in today’s classrooms.
The Fair began Thursday, October 4, 2007, and ran through Sunday, October 7, 2007, at the Parish Fairgrounds between Columbia and Florida Streets in Covington.
Now in its 98th year, the Parish Fair spotlights the accomplishments of the youth of the Parish, through livestock and poultry shows, home economics and horticulture exhibits, and club and organization exhibits, in addition to the school displays. Since its beginning, the Fair has involved students from the School System, including school bands marching in the Fair parade, musical and dance performances by student groups during the Fair, and wide participation in the many activities, contests, and pageants that take place during Fair week and on Friday, Fair Day, for students. The Fair exhibits offer students often a first-hand look at many aspects of St. Tammany Parish life they may not be familiar with, including the local horticulture and animal life.
The educational exhibit booths feature the talents of hundreds of students who contribute in many ways, including writing assignments, art work, math and science projects, research, etc. Setting up exhibit booths together before the Fair begins also builds a team spirit among teachers and students, as they work to showcase their schools.
For a list of public school educational exhibit participants at the St. Tammany Parish Fair and prizes they won, CLICK HERE.
Consultant Will Provide Professional Planning Services
Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse reported to the School Board recently that, after reviewing various options for professional planning, the System will engage Martin Bruno, Jr., former Slidell City Planning Director, as a consultant to provide professional data analysis and planning consultation services for the School System as needed. Mr. Bruno is well respected within professional planner circles and was elected to the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows in 1999. He also served as Past President of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Planning Association and other elected offices with the organization.
His career in the planning profession spans more than 30 years. He retired from the City of Slidell this past summer after 14 years as Slidell City Planning Director. His strong associations with other planners and government officials in the Parish and his familiarity with the regulations and planning data is expected to be a benefit to the School System, said Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse.
“We are very excited about working with Mr. Bruno,” Mr. Folse stated. “As a city planner, he always made himself available to the School System to advise and help us. We are pleased now to establish a stronger tie with him and to have him available to help us with our professional planning needs.”
School System Launches Parent Version of Safe Driving for Teens Forum
A “Parent Focus on Safe Teen Driving” program designed to provide parents with important teen safety information was held for the first time this year, taking place the evening before the all-day Teen Focus on Safe Driving forum. Parents from across the Parish shared in the experience, which took place at Castine Center in Pelican Park near Mandeville. The parent session was the outgrowth of suggestions by parents of teens and other previous Teen Focus participants to provide the same critical information to parents and guardians.
Parents heard many of the sobering facts that teens would hear the next day. Superintendent Gayle Sloan told the group that the Teen Focus program was initiated in response to the deaths of 11 teenagers in tragic highway accidents in 2004. She explained that common themes among teen driving fatalities had been identified and that the program was designed to address those problem areas. Students are reminded that driving a car is not a right, she said, but a privilege based upon an understanding of responsible driving practices. That fact is something parents can reinforce, and that is why the Parent Focus became an important component of the program.
A panel discussion included comments by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain; Dr. Todd Thoma, an associate professor of emergency room medicine at LSU Shreveport; and Michael Dirmann, a School Board member and insurance executive. Other panelists were Drew Lehmann of PRIDE; Trooper Louis Calato of Louisiana State Police, Troop L; and Stacey Mequet, Youth Service Bureau. Dennis Mitchell, a motivational speaker and author, talked to parents about his personal experience with the loss of his child as a result of a drunk driver and about instilling a sense of personal responsibility for actions.
Among the topics discussed were district court programs for juvenile traffic offenders, the common causes of accidents among teens, insurance and liability issues for parents, etc. The program started with a spirited performance by the PRIDE Troupe, a 170 member organization that brings the message of a drug-free lifestyle to teens across the parish through original songs and skits.
The St. Tammany District PTA helped with the parent’s event and encouraged parental participation. Supervisor of Instruction Peggy Sharpe said the program was well received by parents, and they already have given School System officials ideas for making next year’s Parent Focus even better. “After the response to this year’s event, we are absolutely going to have one again next year,” she said. Some parents said they wished their teens could have been with them for the presentations and that idea will be taken under consideration for next year’s parent meeting.
Teens Focus on Safe Driving Helps Students Steer Clear of Tragedy
Student teams totaling more than 200 participants from public, private, and parochial high schools across the Parish met at Castine Center in Mandeville recently to absorb a wealth of information about safe driving practices and the possible consequences of not driving safely. The annual all-day program, first held in 2004, brought together a panel of experts from law enforcement and other first responder groups, emergency room medicine, and substance abuse organizations to talk to students about the real cost of driving mishaps and ways to improve safety among inexperienced drivers. The student teams will take the information back to their high schools where they spread the word about safe driving through a driving awareness plan the team develops.
Special guest at the teen’s forum was Miss Louisiana Amanda Joseph. Miss Joseph gave personal experiences about a vehicle accident in which she was involved and what she learned from the accident. She also spoke to them about the choices they make in life and how even small, split-second choices can affect people for the rest of their lives.
Many views were expressed by the students as well. Some participated in live, on-stage one-on-one interviews and some were featured via a special video presentation produced by Channel 13, the School System education television channel. Those opinions ranged from simple hints for safer driving to profound observations of why teens have a harder time keeping their attention on the road.
Speakers during the day included Dr. Todd Thomas, who teaches emergency medicine at LSU Shreveport. He spoke on the physics of car crashes and the injuries that can result. Motivational speaker Dennis Mitchell shared his personal story of loss at the hands of a drunk driver and encouraged the students to make wise choices in life, particularly when driving. Other speakers included Trooper Louis Calato, State Police Troop L; Drew Lehman and Libby Cole, PRIDE; Stacey Mequet, Youth Service Bureau; and Captain Kevin O’Neil, Slidell Police Department.
Participants were greeted at the door by crash dummies Vince and Larry as they arrived for the event. They also had an opportunity to see a display of art from a parishwide art poster contest held to illustrate the theme of this year’s forum. The winning art poster was featured on the front and back covers of the School Action Plan Binder distributed to attendees.
A “Jaws of Life” demonstration was conducted in the parking lot to illustrate how accident victims often must be saved from vehicles. Students saw personnel from Fire Protection District No. 4 pry open the car and peel back smashed metal and glass to get accident victims out of the wrecked vehicle. A number of exhibit booths also offered information on the subject of safe driving from a variety of agencies.
The Teen Focus on Safe Driving was first held three years ago by the St. Tammany Parish Public School System in response to a number of tragic car accidents that involved teen fatalities. Superintendent Sloan said the School System saw a community need for a forum where ideas could be exchanged regarding safe driving for teens. Although the number of accidents involving teen fatalities has decreased since the first Teen Focus, causes for accidents identified at that time are still the chief causes today: driver inexperience; distractions such as cell phones and loud music; speeding; lack of seat belts; and, in a few cases, alcohol.
According to one of the event’s coordinators, Peggy Sharpe, evaluations of the event were very positive, with many participants saying it was the best Teen Focus on Safe Driving ever held. “They liked the many interactive displays with the hands-on experience,” she said. “I think it was a great success. Every time we hold a Teen Focus forum, we find out what works best and what things really make an impact.”
Next spring, a follow-up seminar will be held to reinforce what was learned and to hear reports of how effective team plans have been during the course of the school year.
Covington High School Holds Open House For Automotive Technology Certification Program
An open house for the new ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) automotive technology certification program at Covington High was held recently, giving school officials an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a new training initiative that is being well-received by students and community partners alike. During the event, students gave visitors tours of the automotive diagnostic and repair shop, including two internet-based systems used to supplement instruction in key automotive technology areas.
Principal Danny Guillory stated he was very proud to showcase the automotive program, noting that the program can offer Covington High students all four areas of ASE certification that can be learned at the secondary level– brakes, electrical, engine performance, and suspension/steering.
Principals recognize the importance of this program to their students, Mr. Guillory said. The Covington High program began about four years ago when Mr. Guillory was counseling a student who was considering dropping out of school. The student told him he had decided to study diesel mechanics, but CHS had no certification program in automotive technology. “He wanted to further his education, but he wanted it to be in the field of auto mechanics,” Guillory explained. That set the wheels in motion for administrators to pull together a way to offer such a program.
Since then, he has discovered that the program also is important to the community. “The ASE certified automotive technology program not only gives the students a chance to further their post secondary education, but it should prove to help our local automotive service businesses as well,” Guillory said. “This is absolutely a wonderful opportunity for our schools and business community to come together and help our students further their dreams and interests.”
Superintendent Gayle Sloan said that she has been serving on the Louisiana High School Redesign Commission for the last two years, and the CHS automotive technology program is representative of the new directions for high school instruction. “I am a very proud Superintendent to see how this has come together among school officials, business stakeholders, and the students,” she said.
The program offers the “real-world relevance” that high schools are striving to give their students, she commented. Students definitely have to be focused, committed to success, and use high-level academic skills to take part in the automotive technology program, she stated. “This is really about engaging our students in something that makes sense to them, something where they can see tangible results.” The partnership of community businesses is invaluable in making the program a success, she concluded.
Region Nine Director of the Community and Technical College System Will Wainwright said the program was all about the students. “That’s why we are all here,” he said, thanking parents for their support of the program. “This has become important to the local and regional economy also,” he added, noting the large number of community business partners involved in the project.
Mr. Wainwright explained that putting the program together required a tremendous coordinated effort, plus an awareness of the value of technical college professional development. “A career pathway has been realized today,” he commented. The success of the program is just a beginning, Mr. Wainwright said. “The sky is the limit for these students,” he concluded, challenging each student to embrace the training, work hard, and value the internship experience.
Steven Fauntleroy, a student involved in the program, said he was honored to take part in the automotive technology course at Covington High. He thanked all those who helped put the program together for he and his fellow students.
Anthony Renaud, instructor for the course, said that putting the course together took a team effort with supporters from the School Board, automotive service business community, and the Louisiana Technical College System. Students in the Covington High School course also are enrolled in the technical college, following the same curriculum, he explained. Upon completion of the program, they earn both high school credit and technical college credit.
An advisory board made up of members from throughout the business community will be essential, Mr. Renaud commented. He thanked several area tool suppliers, automotive dealerships, and technical college representative for helping outfit the shop area. “When you start a program like this, and you are looking at four bare walls, it really helps when community businesses come together to donate the tools, car parts, engines, and vehicles to make it all happen,” he said.
Organizations who contributed to the success of the program included Snap On Tools, Gulf States Toyota, Nissan of Slidell, Delgado Community College, and Sullivan Louisiana Technical College.
Kids For Cops Program Raises More Than $20 Thousand for Two Sheriff Deputies
|The first annual “Kids for Cops” fund-raising project by the St. Tammany Parish Public School System raised $24,256.68 and a check for that amount was presented to Sheriff Jack Strain at the September School Board meeting. The money will go to help defray the medical expenses of Sheriff’s Deputies Mark Bott and Mary Mayo, who were injured in automobile accidents earlier this year,. On August 31, students and staff members were encouraged to donate a dollar to the new “Kids for Cops” program and, in return, wear a cap or hat to school for the day. In addition to providing help for the two deputies, the project also served to raise the awareness of students of the contributions made by police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Upon receiving the check, Sheriff Strain expressed his gratitude for the donation and told how much it meant to his deputies. “Our deputies go out daily to work and make sure our Parish is safe,” he said. “This donation by the school children is going to melt some of their hearts.”
The Kids for Cops program will continue yearly, giving the School System a chance to show support for those in law enforcement. Superintendent Gayle Sloan said the program is evidence of the cooperative relationship between the School System and the law enforcement community and safer schools are a result of those efforts. The Kids for Cops initiative will be a continuing source of assistance and connection to law enforcement agencies throughout the Parish.
The program can serve as a model for other school districts to use in setting up their own partnerships with their law enforcement community. A trademark will be registered for Kids for Cops, and an internet domain has been reserved for the program, the Superintendent reported.
According to the sheriff, Deputy Mayo is currently undergoing treatment in Atlanta, Georgia., to learn how to live with her injuries, and she plans to return to Covington. Deputy Bott will soon be returning to the Sheriff’s Office for “light duty” work as he continues his recovery.
“We have always appreciated our relationship with the law enforcement community and hope in this way to express our gratitude for the outstanding service these men and women provide our Parish,” Superintendent Sloan stated.
Click here for a picture of the check presentation.
Employees With Perfect Attendance Records Recognized
|The School System launched a special program this year to encourage and recognize perfect attendance by System employees, and the first annual reception for those with perfect attendance records for the previous year was held recently. Human Resource Supervisor Brandon Clanton coordinates the program and emceed the event, which took place in the Atrium of the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex.
Those attending were congratulated for their accomplishment and for showing their dedication to their job and to the students of St. Tammany. Superintendent Sloan thanked the group for setting a “wonderful example” for the students by their dedication and work ethnic.
School Board President Neal Hennegan read a resolution which was passed by the School Board at its September meeting, acknowledging the commitment of employees who earned perfect attendance records and expressing the Board’s appreciation for their efforts.
“The strength of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System is determined in large part by the dedication and hard work of the employees,” Hennegan read, “and perfect attendance by employees serves as an example for students that can encourage improved student attendance and positive work habits that will serve them well through life.”
The program was initiated in recognition of this and other benefits. The Perfect Attenandance Award is offered to all non-management employees and those with no absences last year earned a Perfect Attendance pin as well as the public recognition before the School Board.
Perfect attendance is also important in helping maximize instructional time, limiting disruptions to learning, and it can be linked directly to student achievement and a positive learning environment.
Bus Owner/Operator Israel Batiste won a grand prize in a drawing among perfect attendance workers attending the reception. The prize included tickets to a Saints football game and accomodations in the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans. Health Management Partners Employee Assistance Program and Dussouy Insurance Agency donated the grand prize package. To view a photo of the drawing winner, Click Here.
Members of the Covington High School advanced chorus and Show Choir entertained the audience before the program began.
Employees honored for their perfect attendance included the following: Alan Hingle, Betty Fussell, Deborah Strickland, Billie Pendergrast, Debra Pierce, Kenneth Penton, George Gottschalk, Deborah Vinterella, Cathy Henderson, Stephanie Buchanan, Karen Walters, Takenya Veasley, Diane Caporino, Lee Jones, Lynda Bosco, April Waguespack, Thomas Walley, Johnny Stevens, William Berthelot, Monica Sonnier, Kelly Eugene, Shelly Silva, Sandra Warren, Tanya Burton, Patty Blair, Laura Tomes, Willis Walley III, and Geraldine Winzy.
Other employees with perfect attendance were Nancy Blake, Christie Burke, Yvonne Populis, Sharon Yoli, Cynthia Salter, Lisa Myers, Annie Clark, Elijah Carter, James Mayeux, James Gray, John Fortner Jr., Mary Dicks, Nona Sharp, Robert Larsen, Salvador DiMaggio, Victoria Williams, Carol Naquin, Charles Hill, James Fife, Daniel Scheer, Cheryl Modica, Cynthia Carter, Gary Mitchell, James Dawsey, Deborah Mitchell, Priscilla Cyprian, Cathy Stevens, Frederick Wichers III, Lawrence Garrett, Stanton Bruhl, and Connie Penn.
Also recognized for perfect attendance were Licia Mumme, Lori Parks, Natalie Rink, Patricia Champagne, Patsy Johnston, Diane Tamberella, Gilbert Perry, Gregory Blackwell, Otha Fussell, Wayne Raborn, Robert Memleb, Susan Zabenco, Patricia Glass, Adrienne Willie, Donna Fricke, Gregory Windom, Jewel Gennaro, Peter LaLanne Jr., Ricky Windom, Timothy Windom, Rosslyn J. Adkins, Belinda Breaux, Bernard Stiegler, Carol Lecompte, Gary Clement, Kerri Reynolds, James D’Antoni, John Boogaerts, Marlene Champagne, Pauline Moticheck-Smith, Shaun Sharpe, Shelby Marange, Sheri Graham, Shirley Gray, Teresa Skaggs, David Ducre, Maryelen Achee, Fay Day, Michael Kingston, Karen Newman, Sean Esker, and Mark Hazlett.
Employees with perfect attendance also included Alicia Blackwell, Dennis Fussell, Dwana Drinkard, Glenn Hoffman, Kelly Windom, Kelvin Latiolais, Kenneth Fussell, Linda Welshofer, Nicole Tumminello, Rhonda Miller, Robert Creel, Sharon Galloway, Gina Deforest, Patricia Astarita, Lisa Cook, Jamy Lambert, Elsie Wall, Lycreshia Morse, Marie Comblin, James Cole, Kenzie Sharp, Sharlene Algaier, Susan Coffey, Leslie Martin, Jeannie Beaushaw and Barbara Jones.
Annette Miller, Deana Rodriguez, Linda Brown, Melvin Miller Jr., Kathleen Deshotel, Gavin Vitter, Bruce Wilson, Joan Cody, John Monroe Jr., Elaine Fichter, John Macaluso Jr., Lucious Williams III, Jimmy Tillman, Warren Thibodeaux, Frances McGrath, Ann McBride, Linda Stock and Ramona Ussin were also on the perfect attendance employee list, as were Joyce Malley, Betty Ward, Patricia Allen, Marian Slade, Michele Page, Wanda Sanders, Celeste Treille, Barbara Garrett, Scott Lindsey, Michael McNeil, Cynthia Bowman, Dana Rester, Emile Weathers III, Gary Nunez, Gwendolyn Brady, Leslie Doucet, and Rodney Brady.
Others with perfect attendance were Dawn Bourgeois, Dianne Richardson, Angelle Betzer, Edward Selmon, Flora Vicknair, Peggy Hingle, Stacey Leeper, Tammy McManus, Wayne Williams, Paul Richardson, Deborah Jenkins, Donna Mansfield, Lynne Gulino, Richard Gulino, Nancy Guillot, Virginia-Ann Laperouse, Charlene Mediamolle, Kim Pellegrini, Merle Mulkey, Gregory Watson, Shermaine Broussard, Judi Olsen, Gertrude Wells, Hope Reimonenq, Walter Ducros Jr., Jessica Chandler, Jennifer Sprung, Christian Stucke, Clint Woods, Edward Ramon, Hittie Brink, James Necaise, John Dazzo, Kenneth Johnson, Sandra Aleman, Melanie Jarrell, and Troy Duncan.
Also on the perfect attendance list were Andrea Arceneaux, Anthony McGee, Cleveland Pellegrin, Delores Landor, Donna Crawford, Douglas Collins, Gerald Hanson, Linda Creel, Kimberly Markovits, Wayne Riviere, Leslie Thomas, Mark Chauffe, Peggy Brewster, Randall Ostendorf, Raymond Klackle Jr., Regina Benton, Robert Hesson, Robert Ferrier, Ronald Modica, Sabrina Graham, Sheridan Lang, Terry Engel, Alicia Lewis, Willie Dyson, Elaine Michelet, Molly Collins, Rosslyn Adkins, Amy Ducree, Karen Anastasio, Robert Deroche, Clifford Hinkle III, Martha Junot, Christopher Nelson, Stephen Wirtz, Jeffrey Ziegler, Yvonne Walker, Carol Cobb, Deborah Pfeifer, Rachel Edelman, Jeanette Dixon, Shirley Donald, Alfred Gillum, and Sandra Scott.
The list of perfect attendance employees also included George Syll, Hattie Brink, Jerry Rogers, Jeanne Parrish, Carolyn Poirier, Wilibert Johnson, Dorothy Jefferson, Sharon Frierson, Gail Marshall, Rene Cintron, Michelle Echols, Erin Oramous, Karen Randolph, Bradley Hill, Gerald Hebert, Albert Hollie, Hazel Smith, Veran-Ann Pressley, Myra-Jean Stewart, Donald Jenkins, Karen Callahan, Debra Annessa, Robert Walker, Robert Peters, Brenda Palmer, and Karen Faciane.
School System Receives Grant To Strengthen Emergency Plans
A $542,176 grant for “Safer St. Tammany Schools” was awarded to the St. Tammany Parish Public School System recently by the U.S. Department of Education under its Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant program.
The money is targeted to help school boards enhance and fortify readiness and emergency response management plans, according to U. S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. School systems receiving the grants address four phases of crisis planning: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
The overall aim is to provide a safe learning environment by strengthening emergency management planning and better coordination with community resources in matters of student safety.
Grant funds can be used to train school personnel and students in emergency management; communicate emergency management polices to parents and guardians; coordinate with local emergency responders (fire and police) and groups responsible for recovery issues, such as health and mental health agencies; and purchase equipment.
Audits of building and facilities and implementation of an Incident Command System are other uses included in the grant program.
Jim Suitt, Security Coordinator for the School System, said the grant will fund a Systemwide collaborative effort to update Critical Incident Plans in all schools and support offices. A secure Web site will provide emergency personnel and first responders with up-to-date information critical during an emergency situation, including phone numbers of key administrative staff, campus maps, road layouts and utility schematics. Aerial and exterior photos of each school also will be online to give law enforcement personnel responding to emergencies a headstart on knowing school building layouts.
“Implementation will be state-of-the-art,” said Mr. Suitt. “The system will address a variety of hazards, from hurricanes and earthquakes to fires and tornadoes, and will help determine appropriate means of response and evacuation, if needed.” Many law enforcement vehicles are equipped with laptop computers now, so officers arriving at the scene of a hazardous situation will have ready access to a wealth of information.
School systems receiving the grants must develop written plans that are coordinated with state Homeland Security plans, support the implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and include preparations for possible infectious disease outbreak such as an influenza pandemic.
“We are very pleased to have been awarded this ‘Safer Schools’ grant, which will allow us to focus even more on maintaining secure schools and campuses,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan, upon being notified that the School System would receive the grant. “With this grant we will be able to take our crisis planning and response to a higher, more effective level in our continuing efforts to provide safe schools for the students in our community.”
The grants are through the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
School Board Bond Rating Is Upgraded: Highest Ratings Among School Boards in State
The bond rating awarded the St. Tammany Parish School Board by Moody’s Investors Service was recently increased to “Aa3”, not long after Standard & Poor’s awarded the Board a “AA-” bond rating. These credit ratings are at the highest level attained by any school board in Louisiana, according to Grant Schlueter of Foley & Judell, Bond Counsel to the School Board.
“You’re on top,” he told the School Board at a recent committee meeting. “The two top national bond rating services both gave you double A category ratings. No other school district in the state has those.”
Moody’s, a national bond rating agency, based its upgrade on four factors, including the strong comeback shown by the School System two years after Hurricane Katrina, strong growth in the local tax base, modest debt burdens to taxpayers, and the healthy financial operations of the School Board. “They liked what they saw in what the School System did to speed recovery after the hurricane,” Schlueter said.
The high bond ratings for the School Board means that when the district issues general obligation bonds, the Board can attract lenders offering lower interest rates. Lower interest rates in turn result in substantial savings to property taxpayers. According to Schlueter, taxpayers have saved millions of dollars in interest costs on bonds due to the continued high credit ratings of the School Board.
Schlueter said that Moody’s was particularly impressed by the School System’s strong comeback after the hurricane. The Moody’s report recognized the strong management at the School District and its immediate action after the hurricane to open schools as quickly as possible. Despite every school suffering damage, all schools re-opened on October 3, 2005, some having to share campus space at nearby schools.
The Moody’s report further notes that the School Board “has historically maintained a strong fund balance. As anticipated, the fund balance has remained strong, which is a key factor in the rating upgrade.” According to the Moody report, the School District has demonstrated a willingness and ability to maintain strong financial operations throughout a challenging environment, which supports the rating assignment.
Parents To Focus on Safe Teen Driving
The St. Tammany Parish Public School System is sponsoring a special event for parents to help focus attention on teen driving habits and ways to improve safety among teen drivers. “Parent Focus on Safe Teen Driving” will be held on Tuesday, September 18, 2007, beginning at 5:30 p. m. at Castine Center in Pelican Park, Mandeville. The two-hour parents program is an outgrowth of the “Teen Focus on Safe Driving” program that has been held annually since 2004.
The agenda will include presentations by the law enforcement, medical, and educational communities on such topics as laws related to teen driving, risk factors surrounding teen driving accidents, insurance questions, statistics related to accidents involving teenagers, and community programs offering help and information about the problems. The event also will include exhibits by various law enforcement, medical, and other agencies and organizations involved in efforts to reduce teen injuries and deaths resulting from traffic accidents.
Terry Meyer, a Supervisor with the School System, said the parents meeting is the result of numerous requests to get the teen safe driving information into the hands of parents as well as the teenagers. In 2004, the parish suffered the loss of several students in automobile accidents, and Superintendent Gayle Sloan initiated a community forum committed to finding ways to help prevent automobile deaths and injuries among parish teens. Chief among suggestions coming from this forum was the goal of bringing greater awareness of the hazards associated with teen driving to the attention of students and their parents.
The first Teen Focus on Safe Driving brought together more than 300 people, including teams from eleven public, private, and parochial high schools; law enforcement representatives; school and community leaders; and various community organizations. At the teen event, participants learn vital facts about issues surrounding teen driving, hear first-hand experiences, and have the opportunity to share their thoughts and brainstorm ways to help reduce teen accidents. Each high school team then devises a plan of action to focus on ways to help prevent automobile deaths and injuries among teens to be implemented at their schools throughout the year.
Superintendent Sloan continues to be a strong proponent of the award-winning “Teen Focus on Safe Driving” program and has urged extending the concept to parents.
“We are looking forward to bringing parents throughout our community together to learn more about the issue of teen safety and to exchange ideas about ways to help ensure that our young people make wise and safe driving decisions,” said Mrs. Sloan. “We, as a community, must do all that we can to help safeguard them.”
Parents are urged to attend this important event. For more information parents may call 985-898-6430.
STI Web Site Helps Update Parents On Student Progress
Information about the St. Tammany Parish Public School System Software Technology, Inc. (STI) grade reporting system has been mailed to parents of students in grades four through twelve. In the past two years, the new internet-based STI technology has provided an effective and convenient means of communication between home and the school. The information sent out August 26 includes login identification, password, and instructions on how parents and guardians can access, via the World Wide Web, their childrens’ grades, attendance, class schedules and homework assignments.
The web address for accessing STI is https://stihome.stpsb.org. For convenience, the home page of the St. Tammany Parish School Board Web site has a graphic link to the STI log-in page. Parents visiting the STI site navigate through a series of drop-down menus to select their childrens’ schools and then log-in using the supplied ID and password.
Passwords sent out last year to provide parental access to STI remain the same this year, and new students have new passwords automatically assigned to their STI login accounts.
School officials caution parents to keep their log-in ID’s and passwords secure, to help prevent unauthorized access of school records. After completing a visit to the STI site, parents are asked to “log off” so the session will be closed.
For more information on the service, parents may visit the help page at https://stihome.stpsb.org/help.htm or contact the school principal.
Local Teachers To Conduct Science Experiments on Weightless Flight
Six St. Tammany Parish public school teachers will be flying high August 30 as they experience weightlessness while on G-Force One, a plane that simulates zero gravity by following a roller coaster flight path. The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program is similar to the training used by astronauts to get familiar with and work in the reduced gravity of space. The ride features 15 parabolic flights and weightlessness lasts approximately 30 seconds each flight.
St. Tammany science teachers Jane Gallardo, Fontainebleau Junior High; Rene Rome Davis and Belinda Breaux, Madisonville Junior High; Catherine Dee, Clearwood Junior High; and Heidi Rhea, Tchefuncte Middle School; and math teacher Dawn Casselberry, Northshore High, will take part in the project, which will allow them to see first hand the effects of zero gravity. A total of 58 math and science teachers and college education majors from Louisiana and Mississippi are taking part in this unique teacher professional development program, which is sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation.Ms. Rhea said she was “absolutely thrilled” about her amazing opportunity to take part in this program.
“I have been a big NASA fan since 2001, when I was part of NASA’s NEW program and spent two weeks at Johnson Space Center with 20 teachers from around the U.S.,” she explained. “Looking at the astronauts floating in microgravity looked like so much fun, and now I get to do it, too.” The teachers have already gone through training for the upcoming event, planning three science experiments to do in addition to the “fun” things like flying like Superman, Ms. Rhea went on to say. The experiments will be video taped for the teachers’ use in developing science curricula for their schools and classrooms.
“When I think about the upcoming flight, I can’t help but feel a surge of excitement and anticipation,” said Ms. Casselberry. “As a high school math teacher, I anticipate the word ‘parabola’ will have a whole new meaning after undergoing the 15 of them the plane will be making to create the weightlessness.” She hopes to be able to give her students a new perspective when teaching math problems and practical applications that involve weight, velocity and gravity.Ms. Gallardo reported that the space unit has always been her favorite science unit to teach. Fontainebleau Junior High has taken 100 eighth graders to the Houston Space Center annually for the past eight years, she noted, adding that, thanks to Northrop-Grumman, she will now be able to experience weightlessness, video tape experiments while in the plane, and tell her students all about it when she returns. “It is wonderful for companies like this to sponsor such great programs for teachers,” she said.Ms. Davis feels that to have the chance to experience zero gravity is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Northrop Grumman Foundation’s Weightless Flights of Discovery will allow us to understand Newton’s Laws of Motion in a whole new way!“ she said.According to Ms. Breaux, the teachers will be flown out over the Gulf of Mexico in a special area where they will fly the pattern that makes them weightless. “We will be filmed and given the chance to share via video the experience with our students in the classroom.”Ms. Dee, a sixth grade science teacher at Clearwood Junior High, stated that the experience will definitely be one of the highlights of her career. “I am looking forward to following in the footsteps of physicist Stephen Hawking, who took this flight at the end of the last school year,” she said. Ms. Dee hopes that by sharing this event with her classes, it will bring excitement and real-life experiences into the classroom that will foster a love of science and learning among her students.
The Northrop Grumman Foundation Weightless Flights of Discovery program teacher training program provides educators with first-hand application of math, science and engineering principles aboard microgravity flights, during which they will conduct experiments that test Newton’s Laws of Motion. Teachers will bring their experiences and in-flight video back to the classroom to incorporate into lesson plans to help motivate and prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Northrop Grumman Foundation is teaming with the Zero Gravity Corporation of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to provide the flights. This is the second year of the program, with eight workshops and 16 flights on the 2007-2008 schedule. The workshops focus on preparing teachers to lead students in topics that relate to 30 National Science Standards, according to Northrop Grumman Foundation officials.
Kids for Cops Program Is Launched
“Kids for Cops”, a new St. Tammany Parish Public School System community involvement program, is being launched this year, with the first event scheduled for Friday, August 31. The program seeks to build on the already-strong relationship between the School System and law enforcement agencies of St. Tammany Parish by promoting activities among students and school faculties to benefit designated police department and sheriff’s office needs.
The August 31 event will give students a chance to donate a dollar to help pay the medical expenses of two St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office deputies recently injured while on duty. In return for the donation, students will be allowed to wear a cap to school Friday, August 31.
Deputy Mary Mayo and Deputy Mark Bott, injured earlier this year in traffic accidents, are facing significant medical bills and the School System, with the encouragement of Superintendent Gayle Sloan, is hoping to raise funds through the “Kids for Cops” program to help defray their hospital expenses. The program will feature an annual event to benefit law enforcement and re-inforce the close-working relationship between the School System and law-enforcement community.
Superintendent Sloan said the “Kids for Cops” project will give the School System a wonderful opportunity to raise community awareness and show appreciation of law enforcement’s contribution to the well-being of our community and school system. “We have always appreciated our relationship with the law enforcement community and hope in this way to express our gratitude for the outstanding service these men and women provide our parish,” she stated.
Flyers for students to take home and several posters have been delivered to schools telling of the August 31 fund-raising effort. “This School System has always appreciated our relationship with its police forces,” said Mrs. Sloan.
According to Cathy Aime, Administrative Supervisor, “We are expecting strong participation by our students. We are looking forward to a very successful launching of the ‘Kids for Cops’ program with this event.”
College Career Fair Rescheduled For April 23
The 2007-2008 College and Career Fair, originally set for October 8, has been rescheduled to Wednesday, April 23, 2008. The popular annual event provides information on a wide variety of colleges and college financial aid programs to ninth through eleventh grade students and their parents.
The College and Career Fair will provide students an opportunity to visit with representatives from a number of colleges and universities, as well as pick up information on other programs of interest to graduating high school seniors.
Northshore High Graduate Wins Top LSU Honors
A Northshore High School graduate from Slidell was recognized at LSU commencement ceremonies this month as he was awarded one of Louisiana State University’s top undergraduate academic honors.
Dustin Matthew Spiehler received a University Medal from LSU for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average at the August 10 commencement ceremony. He graduated summa cum laude after being on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll List in the Fall of 2004 and 2006 as well as the Spring of 2006. His future plans include attending law school.
He was one of 41 residents of St. Tammany Parish to graduate from LSU this month at the university’s 263rd commencement exercises.
A business management major in the E. J. Ourso College of Business, Dustin was recognized with Outstanding Student Awards in 2006 and 2007, and he has received both the TOPS Scholarship with honors stipend and the LSU Alumni Scholarship. His campus activities have included membership in the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, the Alpha Lambda Delta Society and the Foreaux Society, which honors students who achieved a 4.0 grade point average during their first two semesters at the university.
Emergency Information Brochure Is Available For Parents
An Emergency Guide for Parents brochure has been distributed, and students should be bringing home the pocket-sized publication with the School System’s emergency phone numbers for parents to call to get the latest information on situations of concern. The brochure includes two wallet-sized punch-out cards with information critical to keeping abreast of School System news during times of weather extremes or other extraordinary emergencies.
The brochure contains an explanation of procedures for early school dismissal and emergency school closings, the process required for emergency release of students to parents, and ways to stay aware of developing situations that may affect school operation and the community as a whole.
Sources of information for emergency School System news includes Cable Television Channel 13 (St. Tammany Parish Educational Television), the School System Web site, local television and radio stations, and the Emergency Phone Alert System.
The phone alert system can be reached from inside the parish by dialing 985-635-0801 and then pressing 1. From outside the parish, the emergency phone number is 1-800-580-1874.
If a parent or student has information about a potentially serious school safety concern, they are reminded to call the school principal or the Crimestoppers Safe School Hotline at 1-877-903-7867.
With the opening of a new school year, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System wants to remind parents of the importance of providing their children’s school with emergency contact phone numbers in case of unexpected events, such as campus disruptions or hurricanes. This information is critical to helping school officials reach parents or contacts quickly if needed.
Schools Welcome Parents to Open House Events Now Scheduled
Public schools throughout St. Tammany Parish have scheduled their Open House events for 2007-2008, inviting parents and guardians to visit their children’s classrooms and talk to their teachers. The Open House gives parents a chance to meet their children’s teachers and helps familiarize them with school and classroom procedures, activities and events.
“Parental involvement is such an important determiner of student success, and we encourage parents to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about their children’s schools and to get acquainted with teachers and school administrators,” commented Schools Superintendent Gayle Sloan. Often, school open houses are the first occasion a parent has to actually visit his or her child’s school, she said, and this event opens the door to future dialogue between the parent and the teacher.
School officials are looking forward to meeting parents and sharing information about schools. For the dates of Open House programs at specific schools, click here.
School System Schedules College Information Workshops
The Fall 2007 College and Career Fair, originally set for October 8, has had to be rescheduled. A new date will be set for the popular annual event, where information on a wide variety of colleges and college financial aid programs will be available to ninth through twelfth grade students and their parents.
The College and Career Fair will provide students with an opportunity to visit with representatives from a number of colleges and universities, as well as pick up information on other programs of interest to graduating high school seniors.
In addition to the College and Career Fair, several workshops are being offered during September and October for college-bound high school students.
A Tuition Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) workshop will be held on Thursday, September 6, at 7:00 p. m. at Jefferson East, a School Board support facility located at 227 North Jefferson Avenue in Covington. A TOPS workshop also will be held on Monday, September 17, at 7:00 p. m., at the Slidell City Auditorium, 2056 2nd Street in Slidell. Students in grades nine through twelve are invited to attend the TOPS workshops along with their parents.
In October, two workshops on college financial aid will be held for students in grades ten through 12 and their parents. These sessions will be held at the Slidell City Auditorium on Monday, October 22, and at Jefferson East on Thursday, October 25. Both begin at 7:00 p. m.
NCAA seminars for college-bound athletes will be held in November. The first seminar will take place on Thursday, November 15, at 7:00 p. m. at Jefferson East, and the second will be held on Thursday, November 29, at 7:00 p. m. at Slidell City Auditorium.
For more information, CLICK HERE to go to the College Counseling Web site.
School Employee Contracts Approved
|A new four-year contract was approved by both the St. Tammany Parish School Board and the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees Thursday night. The contract, the sixth with the Federation, is the first four-year contract for the seven employee groups; previous contracts have been for three years.
The School Board voted in favor of the contracts at a special meeting before the regular monthly board meeting. Federation members met later and also approved the contracts.
Among the contract details were $1000 salary increases for both certificated and non-certificated employees each year for the next four years; salary schedule step adjustments for bus drivers and attendants, food service technicians and assistant managers; supplemental pay for dance and cheerleader faculty sponsors; and an increase in Board contribution to the Health and Welfare Fund for dental benefits.
The mileage reimbursement for eligible employees also was increased.
The seven employee groups represented includes teachers and other certified personnel, secretaries and clerks, food service technicians,paraprofessionals, maintenance, custodial, and bus owners/operators/attendants.
Other provisions in the contract are a transition to direct deposit of payroll checks for all employees by July, 2008.
Special provisions were included for recovery contingencies for extraordinary circumstances such as hurricanes and for plans to deal with critical shortage areas in the workforce.
New salary schedules were approved by the School Board at the August monthly meeting, and these have been adjusted to reflect changes made by the approval of the collective bargaining contracts. CLICK HERE to see the new salary schedules.
National Media Spotlights School Food Service Program
The St. Tammany Parish Public School System Food Service Program was spotlighted as part of the coverage about healthy food choices for school children in an August 8 article in USA Today newspaper.
USA Today was referred to the St. Tammany Parish Public School System when it contacted the United States Department of Agriculture for suggestions about outstanding school nutrition programs. Efforts throughout the School System to improve the eating habits of pupils were detailed in the article, including everything from student-inspired menus meeting USDA standards for good nutrition to the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. The move from less nutritious fare to a more wholesome selection took time, the article pointed out, but today’s school lunches use whole wheat flour, lean meats, and lighter desserts. Given special mention was the School System’s "Go, Glow and Grow" nutritional awareness program, which connects the school cafeteria with the classroom in educating students about healthy food choices.
Cypress Cove Elementary School in Slidell was recognized in 2004 as the first school in the Nation to earn the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Certification award presented by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The award honors schools that meet recommended nutrition and physical activity standards set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
In 2005, every elementary school food service program in the School System was recognized for having earned United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Gold Level Certification for offering outstanding nutrition and nutrition education in school.
CLICK HERE for photo.
St. Tammany Parish Public Schools Begin 2007-2008 Year
Teachers and school administrators welcomed students back to school this Friday, and students acclimated to the daily school routine once again after their summer break.
During the first day, students became acquainted with new classrooms and new teachers, visited with friends that they had not seen all summer, and were provided a variety of important papers and materials to bring home, including the District Handbook for Students and Parents, contact information forms, media release forms, etc.
School activities went smoothly, according to principals, as they welcomed students in first through twelfth grade. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will begin school full time on August 21, after screening and a half-day for orientation.
Some bus transportation difficulties arose on the first day, and school personnel are working hard to iron out problems and deal with particular concerns. School transportation officials worked through the day and planned to work through the weekend to make adjustments in bus transportation routes and schedules.
Schools Take Heat Precautions
School administrators across the Parish are taking extra precautions to help ensure that, during this period of extreme temperatures, students are not exposed to excessive heat, particularly during physical education class, recess, and other outdoor activities.
The School System Athletic Director is working with coaches in reviewing guidelines for working with student athletes in the heat, for monitoring their exposure to high temperatures, and for providing good hydration. Band directors also are paying special attention to heat factors and their outdoor practices during this time.
School officials will continue to monitor the extreme heat conditions in this area and will take precautions needed to help ensure the well being of students.
Parent Transportation Help Line Will Be Available August 12
A special Parent Transportation Help Line will be in place on Sunday, August 12, from 3:00 p. m. until 6:00 p. m. for parents to call for information about bus transportation for their children. The telephone number is 892-2276. Parents may call during the three-hour period to get contact information for their children's bus drivers and then will be able to call drivers for student pick-up and drop-off times and locations.
This special line is being provided to help expedite information to parents about the changes to bus routes that have been required with the addition of new bus drivers to the School System. The Transportation Department will be working over the week-end to continue making needed alterations to scheduling and routing and will have the information ready for bus drivers to give parents who access the Help Line.
Students Return To Schools On Friday, August 10
|After weeks of preparation for the opening of the 2007-2008 School Year, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System welcomes students back to campuses across the parish this Friday, August 10.
School personnel have been on site for some time, readying facilities for the influx of children. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will be screened between August 10 and August 16, with those classes starting full-time on August 21. Teachers will return August 8 to take part in professional development and to prepare their classrooms for opening day.
Parents wishing to check on opening times, dismissal times, and supply lists for particular schools can CLICK HERE to visit school Web sites for the information.
Students at 45 Schools To Wear Uniforms This Year
|Beginning with the 2007-2008 School Year, uniforms will be required permanently at forty-one St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, following a change in School Board uniform policy last February. Four additional schools are requiring uniforms this year, and parents at these schools will be voting in the next couple of years whether or not to make the arrangement permanent.
The new policy calls for any school that had a “yes” vote for uniforms in two consecutive cycles to continue requiring uniforms without further parent voting.
Schools with uniform requirements this year are Abita Springs Elementary, Abita Springs Middle, Abney Elementary, Alton Elementary, Bayou Lacombe Middle, Bayou Woods Elementary, Bonne Ecole Elementary, Boyet Junior High, Brock Elementary, Carolyn Park Middle, Chahta-Ima Elementary, Clearwood Junior High, Covington Elementary, Creekside Junior High, Cypress Cove Elementary, Fifth Ward Junior High, Florida Avenue Elementary, Folsom Junior High, Folsom Elementary, Fontainebleau Junior High, Honey Island Elementary, Lake Harbor Middle, Lee Road Junior High, Little Oak Middle, Lyon Elementary, Madisonville Elementary, Madisonville Junior High, Magnolia Trace Elementary, Mandeville Elementary, Mandeville Junior High, Mandeville Middle, Monteleone Junior High, Northshore High, Operation Jumpstart, Pine View Middle, Pitcher Junior High, Pontchartrain Elementary, Riverside Elementary, St. Tammany Junior High, Salmen High, Sixth Ward Elementary, Slidell High, Slidell Junior High, Tchefuncte Middle, Whispering Forest Elementary, and Woodlake Elementary.
Currently, students at six schools are not required to wear uniforms. These schools are Covington High School, Fontainebleau High School, Mandeville High School, Pearl River High School, Covington Pathways and Slidell Pathways.
For information on specific school uniforms, visit the school Web site or call the school.
Seven New Principals Welcome Students To Schools
|The 2007-2008 School Year starts with seven new principals at the helm of St. Tammany Parish Public Schools. All look forward to welcoming students to school on opening day, August 10.
Ms. Schanette Hebert was appointed Principal at Alton Elementary School, replacing Mrs. Gwendolyn Wade who retired at the end of the last school year. Ms. Hebert previously served as a Resource Helping Teacher at Alton Elementary School.
Dr. April Owens will serve as Principal at Bonne Ecole Elementary School, following Mrs. Ginger Roper’s retirement. Dr. Owens was most recently an assistant principal at Florida Avenue Elementary School.
At Mandeville Elementary School, Ms. Elizabeth Laine was named as Principal following the retirement of Ms. Isabelle Moore.
Ms. Kim Wood becomes Principal of Mandeville Middle School this year, replacing Joseph Fetter, who retired. Ms. Wood formerly served as Assistant Principal at Pine View Middle School.
At St. Tammany Junior High, Vincent DiCarlo will serve as Principal, replacing Mrs. Hannah Rucker, who has been named Director of Truancy for the School System. Mr. DiCarlo formerly served as an Assistant Principal at Slidell High School.
Ms. Laura Norsworthy was appointed Principal at Tchefuncte Middle School, and she will replace Principal Roxanne Lagarde, who has been named a Human Resources Coordinator at the Central Office. Ms. Norsworthy was previously an Assistant Principal at Pontchartrain Elementary School.
The Operation Jumpstart alternative school will consist of two schools beginning this year. Daniel Thiel was appointed Principal of the junior high grades sixth through eighth, and Principal Chris O'Regan will administer the ninth through twelfth grades. Mr. O'Regan has been Principal over the entire school since its inception. Mr. Thiel came from a Parishwide Assistant Principal position.
For a complete listing of principals at all St. Tammany Parish Public schools, visit www.stpsb.org/schools_directory.php.
New Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Is Appointed
Mrs. Cheryl Arabie will be the new Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System when current Assistant Superintendent Dr. Margo Guilott retires at the end of July. The School Board approved the appointment of Mrs. Arabie at its July Board meeting upon Superintendent Gayle Sloan's recommendation.
Mrs. Arabie currently is a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction. Formerly principal at Lake Harbor Middle School in Mandeville when it opened and an Assistant Principal at Mandeville Middle School before that, Mrs. Arabie moved to the Central Office in 2005 to oversee District Strategic Plan Assessment Data and Tracking, as well as data analysis and School Improvement Plan supervision.
“Mrs. Arabie’s expertise comes primarily from her own teaching and school-based leadership experiences that will help her to focus on how curriculum and instruction decisions will affect the classroom and the schoolhouse. That’s critical to helping ensure that the initiatives she will oversee are about what’s best for kids,” said Superintendent Sloan.
"I am looking forward to working under Mrs. Sloan's leadership as I continue my career in education, and also to working with the dream team of supervisors in the Curriculum and Instruction Department as we continue the many initiatives that Dr. Guilott launched," Mrs. Arabie commented.
Mrs. Arabie has a Master's Degree +30 from Southeastern Louisiana University, with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree from Louisiana State University. Her St. Tammany teaching assignments have placed her at Fifth Ward Junior High and Mandeville Middle School, but earlier in her career she taught in Okinawa, Japan, and Baton Rouge.
In remarks before the Board, Dr. Guilott wished her well on taking over the post. "Cheryl Arabie is a master organizer able to see the big picture," Dr. Guilott said. "She’s going to love her job and will be great at it."
Assistant Principals Are Appointed
At its July meeting the St. Tammany Parish School Board made final appointments of school administrators for the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year. Five assistant principals for specific school assignments and six to the parishwide pool of assistant principals were appointed, upon the recommendation of Superintendent Sloan.
Approved for permanent assignment to specific schools were Clifford Kendall, Little Oak Middle School; Shelly Morris, Lee Road Junior High School; Kimberly Thomas, Pontchartrain Elementary School; Deborah McCollum, Covington High School; and Lesa Bodnar, Folsom Elementary School. Parishwide assistant principals will be Terrie Mathison, Christopher Oufnac, Lelia Parker, Roslyn Hanson, Sarah Revere, and Eddie Walker.
Parishwide assistant principals are assigned to various schools as needed, and they gain valuable administrative experience in the process. CLICK HERE for photos of the two groups.
Personal Data Error Is Reported by State Board of Regents
|The Louisiana Board of Regents has reported that it inadvertently posted on its Web site personal data, including social security numbers, of some students across the state who took part in the Louisiana State Educational Planning and Assessment Plan (EPAS) test between 2001 and 2003. The Board of Regents staff removed the personal data earlier this month, within hours of being notified that it was accessible.
A security firm has been hired to determine whether the information was accessed by anyone or has been used in a malicious manner," according to State Superintendent of Education Paul G. Pastorek, in a special notice he sent to all school superintendents.
Parents with questions about the posting may contact the Board of Regents for more information at the web page http://notice.regents.state.la.us or call Kevin Hardy at 225-342-4253. CLICK HERE for more information.
Collective Bargaining Progresses During Summer
Negotiations for new employee contracts between the St. Tammany Parish School Board and the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees began June 6. Seven employee collective bargaining units and a management team representing the Board have met during the summer and made significant progress. A proposed contract is expected to be presented to the School Board for its consideration at the August Board meeting.
Pete Jabbia, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, said that negotiations have gone smoothly. The seven employee groups involved are teachers, bus owner/operators/bus aides, custodians, maintenance, paraprofessionals, food service, and secretarial/clerical. According to Bill Brady, one of the management negotiators, the talks have been very productive.
Members of the bargaining team for the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees were Elsie Burkhalter, president of the St. Tammany Chapter, Louisiana Federation of Teachers and School Employees; Traci Beaucoudray; Anna Bennett; Myra Brown; Patricia Craddock; Margie Crenshaw; Archie Galloway; Gary Gennardo; Deborah Green; Michael Gulino; Joann Miller; Lizette Pichon; Dianne Richardson; Elaine Schwartz; Linda Stock; Jerome Troullier; and Marvel Winne.
Members representing the School Board, in addition to Mr. Jabbia and Mr. Brady, were Al Bordelon, Consultant/Negotiator; Michael Cosse'; Dennis Sharp; Mary Ann Cucchiara; Madeline Davis; Lori Niehaus; Sharon Hosch; Brandon Clanton; Byron Williams; Amy DiCarlo; Amiee Woessner; Sylvia Dunn; and Jim Scharf.
Dates Announced For 2007-2008 Budget Process
A budget calendar for formulating and approving the Fiscal Year 2007-2008 Budget for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System has been announced by the St. Tammany Parish School Board. The Superintendent will present her recommended budget for the coming fiscal year at the August 2, 2007, Committee As A Whole meeting. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for August 16, and the Board will receive input from anyone wishing to comment on the proposed budget at that hearing. Consideration of adoption will be September 13.
CLICK HERE for budgeting process calendar.
CLICK HERE for the proposed budget.
Teachers Take Advantage of Summer Professional Development
Many St. Tammany Parish Public School System teachers have been hard at work this summer taking advantage of a variety of professional development opportunities. Summer institutes, more than a hundred workshops and a multitude of courses are available for educators wishing to advance their abilities and qualifications during the summer months when school is out. Several schools have offered summer retreats and intensive training for their specific schools. A wide assortment of technology training classes are going on as well.
Natalie Bostic, a preschool early intervention teacher at Madisonville Elementary, is working on her Master's Degree; and, with the help of the School Board with some of the tuition, she is taking a four-week course at Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU). "I am definitely learning a lot from it," she said. She just moved to St. Tammany from St. Charles Parish and is grateful for the chance to go back and get her masters. "I just love this opportunity," she stated.
Alicia Fussell, a first grade teacher at Folsom Elementary, is earning her Master's Degree in educational leadership, a move she feels will help her career in education. This summer she took courses at SLU about school law and organizational skills in an administrative role, learning about leadership qualities and how to be a leader in school -- all of which will allow her to get a Teacher Leader Endorsement on her teaching certificate. "We all loved the course," she noted. "We learned all about the policies and procedures of different parishes." She is starting her fourth year in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, and she says the teacher tuition exemption program has helped her tremendously.
Margaret Piazza, a teacher for the past 19 years, took part in a two-week workshop this summer that culminated a year-long math-science partnership grant program. She and 20 other teachers have been studying "Science Across the Environment," part of a three-year-long professional development program that included an overview of Louisiana wetland biology. The program included field trips to Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium, as well as canoe trips on Cane Bayou and visits to the Southeastern Research Facility at Manchac.
At the Big Branch Wildlife Refuge near Lacombe, teachers were encouraged to set up field trips for their students to the area. "This was my third consecutive summer to take advantage of professional development programs, and I can attest to the benefits from attending these programs," Ms. Piazza stated. "As I tell my students, we should all be life-long learners. The learning process should never stop (especially for teachers), and I also enjoy the comraderie of being with other teachers and gaining from their knowledge and experience."
She believes she is expanding her knowledge base by participating in these professional development activities and, as a result, will become a more effective teacher. "And, my students love hearing about my experiences about what I did during the summer," she concluded.
Graduating Class of 2007 Reaps Rewards
The School System graduated 2,096 high school seniors this year from its seven high schools, and many of those graduates have not only a diploma but scholarship dollars to show for their hard work.
The May, 2007, graduates enjoyed offers totalling $17,679,913 in college scholarships, including TOPS dollars earned. The TOPS portion represents only one year of scholarship money, since TOPS is awarded one year at a time. College scholarships excluding TOPS came to $15,215,101.
The Class of 2007 had five National Merit Finalists and ten National Merit Semi-finalists.
Lake Harbor Middle School Teacher Receives Presidential Award
Suzanne Buras, a fourth grade teacher at Lake Harbor Middle School, won the Presidential Award in Mathematics and Science Teaching for elementary schools in Louisiana this past May. She was introduced to the School Board at its June meeting by Dr. Margo Guilott, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Program was established in 1983 by the National Science Foundation and is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on classroom teachers of mathematics and science.
The program identifies outstanding mathematics and science teachers, kindergarten through 12th grade, in each state and the four U.S. jurisdictions. These teachers are leaders in the field of science and mathematics education and serve as models for their colleagues and leaders for the profession. The competition alternates each year between teachers of grades K-6 and teachers of grades 7-12.
Throughout the year, Suzanne Buras keeps her students engaged in mathematics with “All in the Family Finances,” an activity that requires students to pay monthly bills, carry out classroom jobs, use Quicken software to reconcile monthly bank statements, submit job applications, write resumes and cover letters, and create a weekly menu of balanced dinners. “Students are engaged in activities that require them to accurately keep records, use basic math and calculator skills, understand basic economy, use writing skills, and more. They enjoy All in the Family Finances because it is a hands-on, true-to-life activity where they get to make decisions and be creative,” said Ms. Buras.
“Education should equip children to be thinkers and problem-solvers who can handle any problem that life throws at them,” she said. “I like to compare children to the early pioneers who, although they started out with limited resources, learned to be among the most resourceful people in history. They learned as they went by building upon the knowledge gained though their experiences and through discovery. As a teacher, my role is that of mentor, learning facilitator, and fellow pilgrim, not merely of one who imparts knowledge.”
In the past eighteen years, thirteen St. Tammany Parish Public School teachers have won the Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching.
Board Retains Tax Millage Levels
As required by State law, the School Board conducted its annual review of property millage collected for the School System at its June 14 meeting and voted to keep the tax millages at the same level as last year.
The Board, in keeping with A Committee As A Whole recommendation, voted to continue to collect a total of 77.84 mils. The separate taxes making up that total include a Constitutional Tax (4.47 mils); an Additional Support Tax (5.69 mils); a Constructing, Maintaining and Operating Tax (4.05 mils); an Additional Support - Improving, Maintaining and Operating Tax (41.73 mils); and a Bond and Interest Tax which services the bonded indebtedness (21.90 mils).
Superintendent Gayle Sloan recommended that the Board could keep its tax millage rate at the same level due to the implementation of cost-cutting measures that have improved the financial situation of the System. Those measures include the move to a partially self-funded health insurance program, energy conservation, and general belt-tightening measures.
“While the Board could capture a substantial amount of additional dollars, approximately $5 million per year, with a roll forward to the maximum allowable rate of 83.10, I believe that the proper course of action is to hold stable at our current rates,” Superintendent Sloan said.
Board member Donald Villere said it was important to note that the millage levels were the same as last year. “This is not a roll forward. We feel we can live within the millages that are proposed,” he commented.
New School Construction Projects Are Under Way
|Several major public school construction projects, including three new schools proposed in the 2004 bond authorization and rebuilding Salmen High School are moving forward.
Contracts have been signed for the $7.8 million Early Childhood Center in the Pearl River area. The 42,124 square-foot structure will have 16 classrooms and is expected to serve as a model for similar Early Childhood Centers throughout the parish. The notice to proceed with construction was issued in May. Verges Rome Architects of New Orleans finalized the design and Polk Construction is contractor for the work.
Also moving forward is the foundation work on the new high school being built on a 60-acre site northeast of Mandeville. The high school project is budgeted at $38.5 million and will be located off La. 1088, two miles north of Interstate 12. Fauntleroy & Latham Architects are the architects, and The McDonnel Group is the contractor on the project.
Offering a total of 158,550 square feet of floor space, the high school buildings will contain 39 classrooms in two wings, nine computer/business labs and six science labs. Among the classrooms will be an art classroom and a Family Consumer Science room.
The cafeteria will seat 336, with three service lines available, and the gymnasium will accommodate 1,100 people in the stands. The site will have 216 faculty parking spaces and 590 spaces for student vehicles, plus 24 parking spaces for administration and visitor use.
Future plans call for a 2,900 seat football stadium, two practice fields, four tennis courts, a field house, concession stands, and additional parking for athletic events, as well as a baseball field, a softball field, and a 500-seat auditorium.
While the School System is narrowing its search for land on which to build at new elementary school in the Bayou Woods/Slidell area, architects are continuing with a schematic design for a new elementary school in the Mandeville area. That school, with an expected budget of $8.6 million, will be near Magnolia Trace Elementary School and will serve students in kindergarten through first grade.
Over at Salmen High School, architects are working on the design for a new raised one-story structure for the school that was demolished due to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Last year, the school opened on the former school site in temporary facilities.
Emergency Planning Takes Forefront
Using lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina, School System officials undertook extensive review of emergency preparation and response procedures for schools and support offices. The effort resulted in the Proactive Readiness Emergency Plan (PREP) document, a compilation of procedures developed from a variety of sources, including experiences immediately following the hurricane. The PREP document outlines a checklist of essential things to do before and after an emergency and provides a template for schools to use in developing their own plans and procedures.
The PREP materials have been well-received, not only by St. Tammany schools, but by other school districts as well. School System officials have made presentations referencing the plan to national conferences during the year, and representatives from school districts across the country have asked to use the plan as a model for their district emergency planning.
The School System is currently evaluating emergency measures to help assure effective implementation across the parish. According to Superintendent Gayle Sloan, PREP is a purposeful and deliberate plan that enables the School System to better prepare for and recover from emergencies in the future.
In addition to the PREP, the School System has initiated a number of other preparation and responses, including a caller alert phone system to contact employees and parents when emergency conditions arise; an 800 toll-free number for employees and parents who evacuate the area, so they can call to get status reports following an emergency; automatic payroll backup to ensure employee paycheck distribution following a disaster; and backup of the School System Web site to an out-of-state server to assure continued operation in disaster conditions. "We continue to learn new lessons," said Mrs. Sloan.
A recent employee meeting at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex was called for employees at that facility to review emergency evacuation plans for the building. Code alerts, evacuation routes, and other measures were discussed to remind employees of procedures that are designed to ensure the safety of employees in the event of an emergency. Later in the afternoon, a fire alarm sounded and the building was successfully evacuated according to instructions given in the plan. School System and school officials will continue to focus on safety at schools and School System facilities and consistently evaluate emergency plans and procedures.
New Administrators Appointed By School Board
The St. Tammany Parish School Board appointed one principal and three assistant principals at the June Board meeting, bringing the total of schools with new principals to seven for the 2007-2008 school year.
The June appointees are Laura Norsworthy, Principal at Tchefuncte Middle School; Shalone LaCoste, Assistant Principal at St. Tammany Junior High School; Wayne Grubb, Assistant Principal at Slidell High School; and Scott St. Pierre, Assistant Principal at Creekside Junior High School.
Ms. Norsworthy was Assistant Principal at Pontchartrain Elementary School. Ms. LaCoste currently teaches mathematics at Pearl River High School. Mr. Grubb was a longtime head football coach and teacher at Slidell High School, and Mr. St. Pierre was formerly in a Covington area parochial school administrative position.
Administrative appointments made in April and May include Ms. Schanette Hebert, Principal of Alton Elementary School; Dr. April S. Owens, Principal of Bonne Ecole Elementary School; Ms. Elizabeth Laine, Principal of Mandeville Elementary School; Ms. Kim Wood, Principal of Mandeville Middle School; Mr. Daniel Thiel, Principal of the junior high school at Operation Jumpstart; and Mr. Vincent DiCarlo, Principal at St. Tammany Junior High.
Favre Welcomed As School System Athletic Director
In a move that will take St. Tammany Parish public school athletic programs to a higher level, the St. Tammany Parish School Board has appointed Larry Favre as the first Athletic Director for the School System. Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse introduced Favre to the Board at its June meeting, saying that the appointment will ensure the continued high quality of St. Tammany sports programs.
Mr. Favre has been serving as physical education instructor and football coach at Fontainebleau High School. He says his goal in the new position is to improve both academic and athletic opportunities for students. He also is expected to represent the parish in regional and statewide organizations, bringing to light issues of interest from junior high and high schools across the parish. Supervisor Kevin Marse served as School System liaison for athletic programs and facilities across the parish prior to the appointment of Mr. Favre.
Woodlake Elementary School Teacher To Be Honored
Sharlene Algaier, a teacher at Woodlake Elementary School in Mandeville, once again will meet Governor Kathleen Blanco at the Capitol in Baton Rouge, this time on June 19 as recipient of the Louisiana Civic Education Teacher of the Year. The honor was bestowed on her earlier in the year by the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education.
Ms. Algaier was congratulated earlier by Governor Blanco when she received honors as "Humanities Teacher of the Year, Elementary Division" for the State of Louisiana in 2005.
The latest accolades focus on her classroom mini-society, where, on the first day of school, students elect mayors, council members, judges, and various committee members, and together they run a virtual town. The third grade students write a constitution, conduct Parliamentary meetings, and even conduct mock trials.
Ms. Algaier has taught at Woodlake Elementary School for the past 18 years and has been a teacher in the St. Tammany Public School System for 30 years altogether. "The award is a great honor," she says, adding that it came with a beautiful plaque. Dr. Jean Krieger, principal of Woodlake Elementary, is proud of her accomplishments. "She really does bring civic education to our students. Dealing with pre-schoolers through third graders, she introduces them to their first formal contact with society; and, through her program, they learn just what it means to be a member of the community."
Along with her students, the local humane society is a benefactor of her work, since her program encourages an understanding of community responsibilities toward animals and pets. Ms. Algaier sponsors the Woodlake Elementary student council as well as the student post office, and she is working at the summer camp at Woodlake, also.
Dr. Krieger also noted that, because of the effort made by Mrs. Algaier, many Woodlake Elementary students take an active part in student activities and student government when they reach the junior high and high school levels. "The more the students learn about the community and how it all works, through studying the city government, parish government, law enforcement and judicial system, they will likely have fewer problems growing up," she stated.
On June 19, at 1:30 p.m., Ms. Algaier will meet with the Governor and local legislators and expects to be introduced on the floor of the Legislature. Dr. Krieger is planning to go with her to enjoy her moment in the spotlight and the honor it brings to Woodlake Elementary. The governor has declared June 19 as "Law and Education Day" to encourage programs that teach students about citizenship and government.
Students Offered GEE/LEAP Remediation Classes During Summer
Summer provides an opportunity for students who did not pass LEAP or GEE testing during the school year to get extra help preparing for retesting. Extra help comes with special remediation classes for the Graduate Exit Exam (GEE) and LEAP exams provided by the School System during June.
The GEE classes offer those who made unsatisfactory scores on previous GEE tests a chance to focus on areas of concern before retaking the test. Tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade students will begin classes at Fontainebleau and Northshore High Schools on June 11, continuing two hours a day per content area through June 25, according to Regina Sanford, Secondary Supervisor for Instruction. The science and math retests will be given June 26, the Social Studies and English/Language/Arts (ELA) on June 27, and the written portion of ELA on June 28.
Two summer remediation programs are offered for fourth and eighth grade students. The first, a four week program, helps students remove achievement deficiencies which would keep them from being promoted to the next grade. "We try to close the Math and/or English/language arts gap for those who need to achieve a basic or approaching basic score," said Julie Matte, a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction.
The second program for fourth and eighth graders is a two-week program held for students who passed the LEAP test but would like to strengthen their skills in certain areas. The LEAP remediation programs are being offered at five sites: Pitcher Junior High in Covington, Monteleone Junior High in Mandeville, Creekside Junior High in Pearl River and Boyet and Slidell Junior Highs in Slidell. Classes are held weekdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with bus transportation and lunches provided. The remediation service is free to St. Tammany Parish students, but out of parish students may attend for a fee.
Assistant Superintendent Margo Guilott Retires July 31
|Respected, veteran educator of 36 years, Dr. Margo Guilott, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, will retire July 31. Dr. Guilott announced her retirement recently and began making plans for this transition.
"Margo Guilott has made many lasting contributions to our School System, and she will leave behind a legacy of innovative instructional programs that address the needs of all students and prepare students to leave school ready to continue their education and successfully pursue a career," said Superintendent Gayle Sloan.
Starting her educational career as a second grade teacher at Brock Elementary School in Slidell, Dr. Guilott also served on the faculties of St. Tammany Junior High and Pearl River High Schools. She was appointed a Supervisor of Instruction in the Central Office in 1985. In 2003, she was named Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction when her predecessor, Mrs. Sloan, was named Superintendent.
A native of Barranquilla, Columbia, she graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University and earned a Masters Degree and Ph. D. from Tulane University. She will spend her retirement enjoying her grandchildren, volunteering to read to students in the schools, and teaching courses online for the University of Southern Mississippi.
Safe Driving Program Wins Honor From American School Board Journal
The "Teen Focus on Safe Driving" program, now in its third year in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, earned national recognition through the 2007 Magna Awards program sponsored by the American School Board Journal. The Teen Focus project was initiated to reduce the number of teen traffic fatalities by educating youth to make responsible decisions behind the wheel of a car.
The Magna Awards recognize school district leadership in advancing student learning, especially through programs emphasizing community, collaboration, and partnership. The Journal noted that the school district "Teen Focus on Safe Driving" program was an effective response to the tragic deaths of 12 teenagers in automobile accidents during the 2003-2004 school year. All high schools in St. Tammany Parish -- including public, private, and parochial ones -- are involved.
Each high school sends a school team -- consisting of one administrator, two teachers/counselors, one parent, and at least ten students -- to the annual forum. Local law enforcement officials also participate. A resource binder -- including safety statistics, ideas for safe-driving activities to implement in the school, and other resources -- is given to each team. Student interest in the program is encouraged through a competition among art students to produce a theme for annual T-shirts, the binder covers, and decorations for the tables.
The day-long event features presentations by safety experts, a question-and-answer session, and large group discussion. A short documentary, produced by the School System’s educational access channel and spotlighting interviews on teen driving issues with students across the parish, is shown. A follow-up meeting of school teams is held in the spring for students to share successful ideas from activities and projects during the year.
School Supply Lists by Grade Level Now Available
|The 2007-2008 School Supply Lists are now available by going to the School Directory Page and clicking on the Supply List link provided next to the school. The list is an Adobe Acrobat PDF File that contains all grade level supply lists submitted by the school.
Summer School Registration Set
Registration for Summer School sessions in St. Tammany Parish takes place Thursday, May 31, for grades 9 through 12 and Friday, June 1, for grades 1 through 8.
Students wishing to register for Summer School must first obtain an "Authorization for Summer School Work" form from their regular school principal.
Grades 9 through 12 summer school classes will be held Monday, June 4, through Monday, July 30, in two locations, Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville (892-7112) and Northshore High School in Slidell (649-6400).
Elementary through junior high grade summer school students will attend classes Tuesday, June 5, through Tuesday, July 24, either at Clearwood Junior High in Slidell (641-8200) or Mandeville Middle School in Mandeville (626-8778).
For an Adobe Acrobat PDF Brochure about the Elementary Summer School Program click here. For a brochure about the High School Summer School Program click here.
College-Level Fine Arts Instruction Offered To High School Students
College-Level Fine Arts Instruction Offered To High School Students
The St. Tammany Parish Public School System recently renewed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Northshore School of the Arts of Southeastern Louisiana University, continuing a program to provide additional opportunities for high school students who are serious about pursuing a degree in the arts when they graduate high school. Under the agreement, students participating in the program are able to receive college-level instruction in the performing and visual arts while in high school in a St. Tammany public school.
The collaborative effort between the School System and Southeastern Louisiana University aims to expand learning opportunities for students who are talented in the fine arts and to facilitate a smoother transition to college for high school students who, through this program, can earn university credit for courses in music, visual arts, and theater.
Students taking part in the program attend after-school classes at Southeastern Louisiana University for challenging, hands-on instruction in college-level courses.
New Principals, Assistant Principals Appointed at May School Board Meetings
At its May 14 and 24 meetings, the St. Tammany Parish School Board appointed new administrators to replace ten principals and assistant principals.
At its May 14 meeting, the St. Tammany Parish School Board named Schanette Hebert to replace Alton Elementary School Principal Gwen Wade, who will retire at the end of this school session. Mrs. Wade served the School System for 28 years.
Daniel Thiel also was appointed as a new principal for the junior high level at Operation Jumpstart Alternative School. Mr. Thiel is currently a Parishwide Assistant Principal. Chris O’Regan, the principal at Operation Jumpstart for the past ten years, will administer the high school level.
Rhonda Meyers was appointed Assistant Principal at Abita Springs Middle School, and Kellie Ainsworth was appointed Assistant Principal at Bonne Ecole Elementary School. Ms. Meyers was serving as a Parishwide Assistant Principal before the appointment, and Ms. Ainsworth has been teaching fourth grade at Bonne Ecole Elementary School.
The new Assistant Principal at Pearl River High School will be Andree Bonnaffons, currently a Mandeville High School counselor. Dr. LaTisha Meyer, a third grade teacher at Pontchartrain Elementary School, was appointed the school’s new Assistant Principal. Jeffrey Burgoyne will serve as Assistant Principal at Slidell High School. He is currently Assistant Principal at Creekside Junior High School.
During the May 24 meeting, the Board made several additional administrative appointments.
Vincent DiCarlo was named Principal at St. Tammany Junior High, replacing Principal Hannah Rucker. Mr. DiCarlo was serving as an Assistant Principal at Slidell High School and Mrs. Rucker has been named the Director of Truancy for the School System.
Assistant Principals appointed included Linda Griggs at Florida Avenue Elementary School, Casey Gleason at Mandeville Elementary School, and Relia Rollins at Pine View Middle School. Ms. Griggs is a fourth grade teacher at Little Oak Middle School, Ms. Gleason is a Link Teacher in the School System, and Ms. Rollins is a teacher at Fifth Ward Junior High School.
Mandeville High Student Wins Art Competition Honors
Mandeville High School junior Isaac McCaslin recently won “Best of Show” honors in an annual Congressional art competition for high school students nationwide. According to U. S. Congressman Bobby Jindal, the competition gives members of Congress “an excellent opportunity to showcase the talent of their creative constituents and acknowledge our nation’s gifted young artists.” The drawing will hang in the Cannon Tunnel of the United State Capitol for a year.
The competition was created in 1982, and hundreds of thousands of high school students from all over the country have been able to participate since then. This year’s theme was “An Artistic Discovery”. The winning art work was created after a lecture on self-portraits using objects related to the subject rather than an image of the artist.
Student artists were told to gather objects that belonged to and represented them. According to teacher Cristiani Fernanda, the winning art work was an 18x24 pencil drawing that displays good composition and mastering of the color pencil technique. The elements of the drawing were a cutting of wood from an oak tree collected after Hurricane Katrina; a National Geographic magazine, representing Isaac’s love for nature; an artistic mannequin and pencil, representing art; a karate orange belt; some domino pieces; and a bird nest, representing Isaac’s hair. “The execution of the technique made the drawing look like a photograph, which was part of the intent, after studying Audrey Flack Photorealistic paintings,” said teacher Fernanda.
Isaac also won a $5,000 scholarship to Savannah Institute of Art and Design and three plane tickets to Washington, D. C., to view the show.Two years ago, another Mandeville High talented art student won the same competition, and he currently is a very successful student at Savannah Institute of Art and Design.
Outstanding Support Employees Are Recognized
Each year, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System recognizes four of its top support employees, one each in elementary, middle/junior high, high school and non-school office divisions.
This year, those honored as Outstanding Support Employees of the Year were Lydia Ball, a paraprofessional at Folsom Elementary School; Patricia McLaughlin, a paraprofessional based at Slidell Junior High School; Margaret Cusimano, a school secretary at Fontainebleau High School; and Kim Taylor, Senior Secretary at the Central Office.
Their exemplary contributions and accomplishments were noted by Senior Supervisor of Administration Bill Brady during the May 10 School Board meeting in Covington. The recognition program for support employees was established in 1990 by the State Legislature to provide school systems an opportunity to honor outstanding employees who support and provide leadership in the operation of non-instructional activities.
Principals and supervisors from across the parish nominate employees who have shown exemplary professionalism and leadership qualities, inspired and motivated others, and demonstrated service above and beyond what is expected in usual performance of their duties.
School System Recognizes Outstanding Employees and Students
Preceding the May 10 School Board meeting, Board and School System officials recognized employees and students chosen during the 2006-2007 school year for the highest honors given by the School System. The annual reception featured entertainment by the Fontainebleau High School Jazz Band, conducted by Lee Hicks, and presentation of the Principals of the Year, Students of the Year, Support Employees of the Year, and Teachers of the Year. Board President Neal Hennegan welcomed honorees and guests and congratulated all on their outstanding accomplishments.
Recognized during the event were the following:
Principals of the Year
Jean Krieger of Woodlake Elementary School (Elementary Division)
Alan Bennett of Clearwood Junior High School (Middle/Junior High Division)
Dr. Michael Peterson of Northshore High School (High School Division)
Teachers of the Year
Theresa Curtis of Abita Springs Elementary School (Elementary Division)
Rebecca Dussouy Besch of Little Oak Middle School (Middle/Junior High Division)
Hana Hess Jeansonne of Covington High School (High School Division)
Students of the Year
Grace Elaine Valentine of Lake Harbor Middle School (Elementary Division)
Carley Marie Furlan of Fontainebleau Junior High School (Middle/Junior High Division)
Brittany E. Dehart of Fontainebleau High School (High School Division)
Outstanding School Support Employees of the Year
Lydia Ball, a paraprofessional at Folsom Elementary School (Elementary Division)
Patricia McLaughlin, a paraprofessional at Slidell Junior High (Middle/Junior High Division)
Margaret Cusimano, a school secretary/bookkeeper at Fontainebleau High School (High School Division)
Kim Taylor, Senior Secretary at the Central Office (Non-School Division).
The Students of the Year and Support Employees of the Year presented special plaques at the Board Meeting that followed. The Principals of the Year and Teachers of the Year were recognized by the Board at earlier Board meetings.
School System Web Site Gets New Look
|Those interested in getting factual, timely information about the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, with the convenience of the internet, now can benefit from our newly designed School System Web site, which went on-line in May. The new site is designed to provide more information on a wider variety of topics about the System and to offer user-friendly accessibility to items of interest as well as opportunity for public comment. We hope you will take a tour of the site now and use the site often as a good source for general information, in addition to important notices and information about special events or emergencies.
The site has some features not available on the former site, such as Web casts and pod casts of some of our educational channel programs, on-line employment information, and easy-to-find access to student information through the STI Home access link, to name a few. We still are adding data to our site and expect to be able to fill some gaps soon. Our intention is to maintain a very dynamic and useful site for the public and School System personnel.
We want your input and your feedback. Please go to the Public Comment link to give us your thoughts on the new site and to suggest ways the site might better serve your needs. We look forward to your comments.
Students of the Year Are Honored at Board Meeting
2006-2007 Students of the Year for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System were recognized before the Board and honored at the May 10 Board Meeting with words of praise and special plaques presented by Superintendent Gayle Sloan. Student winners from the fifth, eighth, and twelfth grade divisions of the Students of the Year program were selected earlier in the year by a district selection committee, from nominees representing every school in the System having these grade configurations. St. Tammany Parish Public School System Students of the Year for this school year are:
Grace Elaine Valentine of Lake Harbor Middle School (Elementary Division)
District Student of the Year
Carley Marie Furlan of Fontainebleau Junior High School (Middle/Junior High Division)
District, Region IV and State Student of the Year
Brittany E. Dehart of Fontainebleau High School (High School Division)
District and Regional IV Student of the Year
Carley Furlan and Brittany Dehart advanced through the State-sponsored program to become Region IV Students of the Year. Carley recently was selected among all Regional winners in the state as the Middle/Junior High Student of the Year for the State of Louisiana.
Congratulations to these outstanding students.
St. Tammany Student Is State Student of the Year
At ceremonies held recently at the Louisiana State Museum, St. Tammany Parish Public School System student Carley Furlan, an eighth grade student at Fontainebleau Junior High School, was presented Louisiana Student of the Year honors for the Middle/Junior High division. Carley was earlier chosen Student of the Year for St. Tammany Parish and later was selected as the winner from the region. Her selection as State winner came after a day of rigorous writing and interviewing before a panel of judges, who also evaluated portfolios of regional winners across the state.
Carley clearly demonstrates the attributes required for this special honor. She excels academically; is a talented musician, vocalist, and performer; and is a well-rounded participant in many school and community activities. Her positive outlook and vivacious personality seem even more exceptional given the fact that she and her family experienced the loss of home and surroundings when Hurricane Katrina devastated her home in St. Bernard Parish. After the hurricane, Carley and her family were forced to relocate numerous times, but she found a welcoming nest in St. Tammany at Fontainebleau Junior High.
C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex Is Dedicated
May 3 saw the culmination of much hard work to preserve one of the community’s most historic and loved structures, when the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex in Covington was dedicated, with much enthusiasm and community participation. With the renovation of the original 1914 building and the addition of a matching structure, the School Board fulfilled a commitment to maintain the integrity of the original school building and keep the building in use to help to meet the educational needs of the young people in St. Tammany Parish. The building that has served generations of residents as the site of five different schools is now the administrative complex for St. Tammany Parish School Board meetings and School System administrative offices.
The dedication began with a special program at which School Board President Neal Hennegan, Superintendent Gayle Sloan, and Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse expressed the Board’s and administration’s sentiments about the importance of the facility to the community. Covington Mayor Candace Watkins also spoke about the value of the complex to helping preserve the history and culture of the City of Covington and the parish seat of government as well as contributing to the future development of the area. A special video about the history of the building and its namesake, C. J. Schoen, was packed with scenes from earlier years and information about the rich tradition and history of the landmark.
The facility was named for former educator and St. Tammany Parish Public School System Superintendent C. J. “Cyp” Schoen, who served as Superintendent from October, 1967 to January, 1986. The ceremonial ribbon cutting inside the atrium of the building was preceded by remarks of appreciation, extended by the C. J. Schoen family spokesperson Jeff Schoen. Student performances by a Pre-Kindergarten class from Covington Elementary and the Mandeville High School Show Choir not only showcased the talents of St. Tammany Public School students but also highlighted the focus of the School Board and the School System—educating the students of St. Tammany, from the youngest to the oldest.
Tours of the facility continued during the afternoon, as hundreds throughout the parish came by to see the structure, many reminiscing about the time they had spent as a student or staff member in one of the five schools housed on the site. A special reunion of former students and school staff who had attended or worked in the original building at any time drew a large crowd, sharing photographs and interesting-- sometimes humorous--stories about their time in the building.
Throughout the afternoon, visitors touring the facility were treated to performances by a variety of student groups. Taking part in the event were the Pitcher Junior High School Jazz Band, Pine View Middle School Swing Dancers, Fontainebleau Junior High School Chorus, Slidell High School Choir and Honey Island Elementary School Jump Rope Team.
For a brief history of the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex building, click here.
School Counselors Earn National Certification
|Five school counselors received national certification by the National Board for Certified Counselors this year. Recognized for the accomplishment were Jay Varnado, Covington High Schooll Judy Meyers, Mandeville Middle School; Andree Bonnaffons, Mandeville High Schooll Connie Lazaro, Tchefuncte Middle School (not pictured); and Thomas Minarik, Covington High School (not pictured). National certification of school couselors requires proficiency on the national counselor examination fro licensure and certification, national certified counselor status, employment as a school counselor, a recommendation following counseling internship, and required hurs of accredited counseling classes.
St. Tammany School System Recognized for Outstanding Financial Reporting
|The St. Tammany Parish Public School System continues a tradition of recognition for excellence in reporting School System finances with the recent awarding of Certificates of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. The awards are the highest given by the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) and the Government Fianance Officers of America (GFOA). The System has received the two awards for 18 consecutives years. Accepting the awards from State Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot (second from right in photo) are Trey Folse, Deputy Superintendent (left), Brett Stoltz, Chief Accountant (second from left), Gayle Sloan, Superintendent (center) and Ron Caruso, Director of Business Affairs (right). Brett Stoltz also was presented an Awards of Financial Reporting Achievement for outstanding preparation of the System Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
System Supervisor Receives SACS Award
|Scottie Kuhlmann, a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for the School System, received the Dr. John M. Davis Distinguished Educational Achievement Award presented by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). Taking part in the presentation event at the SACS CASI annual conference is Paul Reviere, Chairman, SACS CASI Board of Trustees.
Would you like to become a Crossing Guard?
|The St. Tammany Parish Public School System is working in partnership with law enforcement to identify citizens who are willing to come forward to serve as Crossing Guards at our schools. The responsibility for hiring, training, and supervising crossing guards is that of local law enforcement agencies. However, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Office is currently experiencing difficulty in hiring and maintaining personnel to fulfill these responsibilities at schools located in some areas of our parish. Assistance is needed in the search for citizens willing to serve the community by helping to keep our students safe as they travel to and from school.
Anyone interested in learning more about Crossing Guard positions should contact the Sheriff Office.
Apply in person: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Office
Human Resources Division
141 Production Drive, Slidell, LA 70459
Apply on line at www.STPSO.com
For further information, please call the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office at 985-645-2414.