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Christmas Holidays Started Dec. 22, Classes Resume January 5


The Winter Holidays/Christmas break for St. Tammany Parish Public Schools began on Monday, December 22. Classes resumed and the third grading period, Monday, January 5, 2009.

School board support offices were closed for New Year’s Wednesday through Friday, December 31, January 1 and 2. Support offices reopened January 5.


Administrators Appointed To New High School Staff


Two more top administrators have been appointed to the staff at the new high school being constructed on Hwy. 1088 northeast of Mandeville, scheduled to open to students next fall. Superintendent Gayle Sloan announced the appointments of Stephen Soileau as Assistant Principal and Arlana LeBlanc as Acting Assistant Principal.

Brennan McCurley was appointed principal of the new facility. He begins the new position this month. He said he is eager to get started at the new school and looks forward to working with Arlana and Steve.  “I know they are just as excited and committed as I am to making the new school a success.  We look forward to welcoming students to the campus in the spring for orientations,” he said.

Soileau is currently an Assistant Principal at Fontainebleau High School, and LeBlanc is serving as a curriculum specialist.

Soileau has been in education for 19 years, the past 17 and a half in St. Tammany. “I began at Northshore High School where I taught math for three years and then moved over to do the same job at Fontainebleau High when it opened in 1994.”

He also coached wrestling at Fontainebleau High for 10 years before he moved into administration. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to go to the new high school, a beautiful facility, and help start a new school for the second time,” he commented.

LeBlanc is originally from Texas and moved to St. Tammany Parish in 1996. She began teaching in the sixth grade at Carolyn Park Middle School in 1997, and a year later moved to Slidell Junior High where she taught the Youth Education Success (Y.E.S.) classes and later became the instructor for the school’s Science Technology Lab.  In 2005, she became the assistant principal at Carolyn Park Middle School, and last year she was named the math curriculum specialist for middle and junior high schools, grades fifth through eighth.

“I will draw upon my experiences as a teacher, curriculum specialist and administrator as we begin a new chapter for the district,” she said of the move to the new high school. “This is an honor and an incredible opportunity to be a part of such a huge endeavor, and I look forward to working with this team and most importantly working to make the community proud of its new high school.”


Slidell Area PTAs Conduct Drive To Help Cameron Parish School


Spearheaded by the Northshore High School PTA, a major collection effort to help Hackberry High School recover from damage caused by Hurricane Ike was held recently by five PTA groups in the Slidell area.

“It was the first time I can remember that several PTA chapters, from kindergarten through high school, all worked together on a single project,” said Sharon Hewitt of the NHS PTA. “We pooled our efforts, each chapter doing its own thing, and it was amazing how people came together for this project. It was an opportunity to give back for all the help and compassion we got after Hurricane Katrina.”

Hackberry High School was hit by two feet of water during Hurricane Ike, and the other Cameron Parish high school south of Lake Charles had nine feet of water go through it. “Johnson Bayou High School was destroyed, and all of its students now travel another 45 minutes on buses to go to Hackberry High,” Ms. Hewitt said.

Northshore High PTA members talked with Principal Michael Peterson, who said that several faculty members were also talking about doing something to help a school in southwest Louisiana that had been hit hard by the September hurricanes.

When Hewitt talked to Cameron Parish school officials, their top request was for school uniforms, not just for high school students, but all the way down to Kindergarten, since the school was now teaching 300 children across all grade levels. That prompted Northshore PTA officers to contact PTA officers at other elementary, middle, and junior high schools in the Slidell area to ask for help in the drive. From there, it took off.

They gave themselves a week to collect the money, secure the items and deliver them to Hackberry, since the schools were reopening soon. The total money collected came to $5000, thanks in part to “passing the hat” at two homecoming football games and a band festival at Northshore High that brought in band students from across a wide area.

“Someone dropped off 300 uniform shirts at Honey Island Elementary, we don’t even know who it was,” Hewitt said. “Little Oak’s PTA took $90 out of their budget, shopped around for bargains throughout south Louisiana and Mississippi, and came back with $1800 worth of uniforms they had found on sale.”

The donated khakis were laundered at no charge by the local St. Tammany Association for Retarded Citizens commercial washing service.

It was a four hour drive from Slidell to Hackberry, with a truck driven by a worker
from the School System’s maintenance department. They hauled 40 boxes stuffed with khaki pants and other items. Several members of the Northshore High football team went with them, to help unload the boxes at Hackberry High School. The shirts were ordered from a supplier, who shipped them directly to the school. All total, there were 800 pairs of khakis and enough shirts for every student to receive three.

The St. Tammany visitors found Hackberry High a school where the wall insulation and flooring had been ripped out, and teachers and students were working on concrete. “But the teachers and administrators were really resilient,” Hewitt said. “They were determined to have their schools re-opened within six weeks of the hurricane. It kind of reminded us of what we had been through during Katrina and how quickly we wanted our schools to be up and running again.”

Cameron Parish officials indicated that they had become aware of one more needed item, and that was a fabric book bag organizer that hung on the backs of chairs in the lower grades. “They had the younger kids sitting in high school sized desks, and the students didn’t have any place to put their books and stuff,” Hewitt explained. “We searched the internet, found an organization in nearby DeRidder that made the chairback bags, and had them put together enough of them for the lower grade students at Hackberry. Everything just seemed to fall into place.”

Even after all the purchases, the group had $1300 left in its project fund, and when they went to Hackberry to deliver the items, PTA officers “kept our ears open” for any thing else that might be needed. The horrific story of the librarian at Johnson Bayou High School helped them decide to donate the money to help buy books for the library there once the school is opened again.

“The librarian said she had placed all the books into plastic bags and put them on top of the shelving units five feet off the floor. But when the nine feet of water came through, it just churned the books and furniture around and around,” Hewitt commented.

The whole project turned out to be a heartfelt reminder of the many groups and individuals who came from all over the nation to help out Slidell schools after Hurricane Katrina. “We found the faculty at Hackberry to be amazingly upbeat,” Hewitt said. “They weren’t wanting to complain about it, they were just making do with what they had, and they were making it work.”


School Board To Meet Thursday


Due to December 9th's wintry weather conditions, the regular monthly meeting of the School Board was postponed until Thursday night, December 18, at 7 p.m. at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex in Covington.


Winter Weather Plan For Schools


Utility outages at some St. Tammany Parish Public schools, particularly those in the northern and western sides of the parish, could cause some schools to be closed on Friday, December, 12, 2008. Utility companies worked throughout the night to restore power to as many schools as possible.

A list of affected schools where lack of utilities will cause school closures was posted on the School System website at www.stpsb.org at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, December 12th. The information was released to local television and radio stations and on System educational Channel 13 on Charter Cable. The Emergency Information Message Center can also be accessed at 985.635.0801 or 800.580.1874. Parents were asked to make contingency plans in case school closures are necessary.


Power Outage Closes Lee Road Junior High


Lee Road Junior High School was closed Friday, December 12, 2008, due to a lack of power to the school for heat and light following Thursday's wintry weather conditions.

All other St. Tammany Parish Public Schools and offices were open.  Students without power at home will be given an excused absence at the parent’s request if they are unable to attend school on Friday.


December 9th Snow Affects Schools


The extent of the wintry weather conditions surprised emergency weather officials and School System personnel December 9, 2008. A snow and ice mix expected to occur only in the very northernmost part of St. Tammany was seen throughout the western part of the parish, making driving conditions difficult and causing loss of electric power in several areas.


Ceremony Held For Northshore High To Honor Paul Payne


A ceremony for naming the Agriscience Building at Northshore High School in honor of the late Paul Payne was on Wednesday, December 10, 2008. A sign was installed on the new building, and a reception held in connection with the event.

Payne, an educator who taught for 31 years with the St. Tammany Parish School System, died unexpectedly earlier in the year. The School Board passed a resolution at its August meeting to name the new building after the teacher who was a guiding light in the lives of thousands of young people.

He taught first at Boyet Junior High School and then at Northshore High School beginning in 1983, when the school first opened. He began the first agriculture program at Northshore High School and adjusted the program over the years to accommodate changing needs and opportunities in the community.

The new Agriscience Building was planned and built to house his innovative programs such as hydroponic agriculture and aquaculture. It will also house a variety of programs, serving as a laboratory for fish farming, and offering instruction in aquaponics as well.

Payne is also remembered for his community service, which with his students helped to benefit those less fortunate throughout Slidell, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Payne’s death brought in condolences from throughout the region as former students recalled his shop and agriculture classes and how he opened their eyes to the diverse application of agriscience skills. As a result of his outstanding program, the new agriscience building was built and named in his honor.


Little Pearl Elementary Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at Little Pearl Elementary School in Pearl River on Wednesday, December 10, 2008, at 4 p.m. It was followed immediately by an open house of the facility.

The program was held indoors in the school's multi-purpose room due to rain.
Students began school on the Riverside Elementary School campus earlier this year then moved to the new school on November 11.  Little Pearl Elementary School is located at 63829 Highway 11 in Pearl River.


Covington High School Reschedules Library Ribbon Cutting


The ribbon cutting ceremony for Covington High School’s new Library/Media Center was held on Thursday, December 18, at 9:30 a.m. The event was rescheduled from December 9 due to the unexpected snowfall in the area.

The library expansion and renovation is part of a construction project that also included a larger administrative offices area. That part of the project was finished first, and a dedication ceremony was held late last year.

The library improvements have doubled the size of the original library and provide a teacher resource area, workroom, storage room, and space for computer labs.


Brock Elementary Reopens After Extensive Restoration


Brock Elementary School, a Slidell educational landmark, reopened to students on Tuesday, December 9, 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina caused massive damage to the two story brick structure located at 259 Brakefield Street.

For several days, maintenance department workers and teachers prepared the school for the influx of its 278 students who have been temporarily housed at St. Tammany Junior High School during reconstruction of the historic Brock Elementary building.

A faithful restoration of the educational institution was a top priority for the School System. As one of Slidell’s original schools, it graduated its first class in 1909 and has served the central Slidell area for generations.


Schools Close for Thanksgiving Holidays November 24 through November 28


St. Tammany Parish Public Schools closed for the Thanksgiving Holidays on Monday, November 24, through Friday, November 28. Classes resumed on Monday, December 1, 2008.


Abita Springs Middle School Earns National PTA Special Award


The National Parents Teachers Association recently certified Abita Springs Middle School in its national Parent Involvement Schools of Excellence program. 

Principal Donna Forrest and PTA President Julia Daniel appeared before the School Board at its November, 2008, meeting to be recognized for its accomplishment.

“Our PTA has worked hard to get our parents involved at our school,” Ms. Forrest stated. “I thank everyone for giving us this recognition, and I am very proud of our school for having earned this certification.”

Ms. Daniel told the board that research has proven that when parents are involved in their children’s education, they achieve more. “Schools perform better, and our teachers’ moral improves. Ultimately, the community is stronger when parents get involved in their children’s schools,” she said.

A lot of time and effort was necessary to apply for and document the criteria required by the certification, but the partnership of parents involved in the academic growth of students at Abita Middle was clearly evident.

“Most importantly, we thank you for your reception to parents coming into the school and being a part of their children’s education and for listening to us,” Ms. Daniel said to the board.

Over half of the PTA members in the state of Louisiana are from St. Tammany Parish schools, and every school in the System has an active PTA organization, said Supervisor Margaret Sharpe. 

Parent Involvement Schools of Excellence certification recognizes schools that develop and maintain outstanding parent involvement programs. Nationwide there are 660 schools with the designation. In Louisiana there are eleven schools that have received this certification, and of those eleven, nine are in St. Tammany Parish.

Public schools previously honored with the parent involvement certification are Abita Springs Elementary School, Covington Elementary School, Fontainebleau High School, Lake Harbor Middle School, Madisonville Elementary School, Mandeville Middle School, Pontchartrain Elementary School, and Woodlake Elementary School.


Gayle Sloan Named As Louisiana School Superintendent of the Year


The Louisiana Association of School Executives has announced St. Tammany Parish Public School Superintendent Gayle Sloan as the 2009 School Superintendent of the Year for the state. LASE Executive Director Rogers Pope said, “Mrs. Sloan’s selection was based on her contribution to education in the state.”

State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek honored Mrs. Sloan at the LASE statewide conference on Monday, November 17, 2008. Upon receiving the award, Sloan said, “It is an honor to represent superintendents from around the State in this way. I am impressed with the degree of commitment to our core business among the superintendents in Louisiana and the resolve to work together to advance student learning. It is a challenging and exciting time to be working to improve public education in Louisiana.” Pope added, “St. Tammany is well respected around the state for being pro-active in education and she’s the leader of that movement.”

Gayle Sloan is a native of Mandeville who has been an educator for 37 years. In her early career, Mrs. Sloan taught second through eighth graders. She later held positions as a Resource Helping Teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Supervisor of Elementary Instruction, and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. After devoting her talents to serving the students and community of St. Tammany Parish, the School Board appointed Mrs. Sloan to the position of Superintendent in March 2003.

“There’s nobody more worthy to receive the honor,” said Pope. LASE is a professional organization with a membership of 2400 school administrators. Each year the group uses a team of retired Superintendents from around the state of Louisiana to select the Superintendent of the Year. Pope said, “I think it was Mrs. Sloan’s knowledge and grasp of education and educational issues, the way that she works with her staff, her interest in professional organizations and, just the overall way she does business in St. Tammany that led to this selection.”


Folse Honored By BGR For Innovative Problem-Solving


The Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) honored Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse with a Capital One Bank Keller Award for Innovation at its November 18, 2008, recognition ceremony in New Orleans.The BGR, a private, non-profit, independent research organization, is dedicated to the effective use of public resources for the improvement of government in the New Orleans Metropolitan area. Its awards program started in 1994 and singles out individuals for outstanding performance and creative problem-solving. Only eight persons from the New Orleans area are being recognized for 2008 at the BGR function.Folse was one of three receiving the Capital One Bank Keller Award for Innovation, which recognizes persons who have used innovative solutions to solve pressing problems. It is named in honor of the Keller Family Foundation, the founder of the BGR Excellence in Government Awards, and includes a cash prize of $1000.Superintendent Gayle Sloan commented that Mr. Folse provided strong vision and leadership in developing an energy conservation program that encourages wise energy use practices by students and staff and effective monitoring by System personnel.  “Our School System has saved money by avoiding higher utility bills even while fuel costs were skyrocketing, making more funds available for classroom instruction.  It’s been a win-win for our taxpayers and our schools,” she said.Folse has served the St. Tammany Parish Public School System for 23 years, as a teacher, administrative assistant principal, Central Office supervisor, and Assistant Superintendent for Administration.  He began his career as a Salmen High School computer literacy teacher.  Then he served as an assistant principal at Slidell High School for eight years, before being appointed to Central Office supervisory positions in Human Resources and later Administration.  He became Assistant Superintendent for Administration in October, 2002, and was appointed Deputy Superintendent in July, 2003.  Folse manages School System administrative matters, including Transportation, Child Welfare and Attendance, School Food Service, Construction, Maintenance, and Student Discipline.  In addition, he oversees the Business Affairs and Information Technology departments. 

He was graduated from William Carey University with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Education degree, and he has +30 graduate hours beyond the Master’s degree. 


Students Attend First Teaching Academy Conference


More than 70 junior and senior students and their teacher sponsors from high school teaching academies throughout the St. Tammany Parish Public School System attended a special conference at the Instructional Technology Center November 12, the first Teaching Academy Conference held to encourage young people to consider careers in education.

The six-hour program included several discussion sessions and presenters, including Dr. Nicki Anzelmo-Skelton, Ed.D., of Southeastern Louisiana University. She was instrumental in establishing the state department of education’s STAR program, which stands for Students Teaching and Reaching. That program gives college credits to high school students taking educational courses in preparation for a teaching career.

The event’s theme was “Aim for the STAR,” and the highlight of the event was a presentation by Louisiana State Teacher of the Year Deborah Tonguis of Mandeville High, during which she shared her reasons for wanting to teach.

Various aspects of the teaching profession were explained, and two student teachers from Woodlake Elementary School shared their experiences with the group.

The national shortage of teachers prompted the School System’s Human Resources department to offer the one-day event to emphasize educational career opportunities with information on college offerings in education, starting salaries for teaching, and new classroom technology tools, such as handheld student response devices.


New Elementary School in Madisonville Area Named After First Superintendent


The St. Tammany Parish School Board agreed November 13 to name the new elementary school being planned for the Madisonville area in honor of Joseph B. Lancaster, the first officially-recorded superintendent of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan recommended him for the honor after discovering, during research of the School System’s history, Lancaster’s many contributions to the community as lawyer, district attorney, judge, and state representative. “He was a very high-achieving individual,” she said.

 He was named Superintendent by the first School Board in 1900, after it became an organized set of schools with parishwide administrative supervision and community governance.

His writings from the time convey his vision for the educational future of St. Tammany. At the meeting, Mrs. Sloan read his words encouraging the continued advance of education in the parish. “The people of St. Tammany have awakened to the necessity of a better and more thorough educational system, a system which will put within the reach of every child the means of acquiring a fair and adequate education,” he wrote over 100 years ago.

Five descendants of Lancaster attended the School Board meeting to encourage the naming of the school after their ancestor, three grandaughters, a grandson, and a great granddaughter. Lancaster's grandson, Judge Peter Garcia of the 22nd Judicial District, told the board that a new book was being published next Spring showcasing his grandfather’s letters and photographs from the period. 

“He was an amazing speaker and writer,” Judge Garcia said of Lancaster. “He was born in 1865 in Brookhaven, Mississippi, educated in New Orleans, and as a child spent time at the family brickyard on the Tchefuncte River near Lancaster Bayou.” After his education, he returned to Covington to begin serving the community in a variety of positions.

Articles in area newspapers and the minutes of the first parishwide School Board portrayed Lancaster as a well-known figure in the community. In one of his first addresses to the first School Board, he said, “It is for you and for me to create an enthusiasm in their hearts for public schools and to be a leader in the cause of education,” he said.

Lancaster was a grandson of General David Bannister Morgan, who fought in the war of 1812 with Andrew Jackson and who is buried in Madisonville. “So it is appropriate to name a Madisonville area school after him, since he has very strong connections to the Madisonville community,” Judge Garcia said. He instilled in his entire family a strong sense of community, something has been handed down to his descendants.

He served as Superintendent of Schools between September, 1900, to September, 1904, and died in 1916 in Franklinton. A resolution following his funeral noted that by Lancaster’s untiring energy and zeal, he had succeeded in placing the public school system of St. Tammany on a sound basis and laid the foundation for the splendid position now enjoyed by the System. He worked to extend the three-month school year to six months a year, and he brought the St. Tammany School System into the 20th century, establishing high expectations and hopes for education in the parish that continue until this day, Mrs. Sloan said.

The new elementary school is being built in response to considerable growth in the area and will offer more than 30 classrooms. It is to be located off Hwy. 22 west of Madisonville near Perriloux Road. Funds to construct the school were approved in the March 2008 Bond Issue referendum, and the opening of the new school is anticipated for the 2011-2012 School Year.

In other action, the Board approved a grade configuration for the new facility, agreeing with a recommendation made by Mrs. Sloan the week before. A grade configuration committee reached a consensus that Pre-Kindergarten through first grade students would remain on the campus at Madisonville Elementary School, grades two through five would be housed by the new elementary school, and grades six through eight would attend Madisonville Junior High School. 

Architects for the project are Gasaway-Gasaway-Bankston, and the construction budget is estimated at $19.5 million. 


McCurley Named Principal of New High School


Brennan McCurley will be principal at the new high school on Hwy. 1088, having been appointed by the St. Tammany Parish School Board at its November 13 meeting following a recommendation by Superintendent Gayle Sloan.

Currently principal at Slidell Junior High, McCurley will begin work in January in his new post, readying the new high school northeast of Mandeville for its first students in the fall of 2009.

“I thank you for this awesome opportunity, for entrusting this brand new school to me,” McCurley told the Board after its vote. “I assure you that I will do everything I can to make it the best school it can possibly be.” He said he looks forward to working with the community the new school will be serving, and he went on to say that his time as principal at Slidell Junior High has been very rewarding. He thanked his staff there for their hard work and dedication.

McCurley began teaching social studies in 1997  at Northshore High School, also serving as coach for girls softball and volleyball. In October, 2003, he became assistant principal at Covington High School, and in June, 2004, he was named an assistant principal at Northshore High School. He was appointed principal at Slidell Junior High in February of 2005.

A graduate of Salmen High School, he holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. He is a member of the Louisiana Association of School Executives, the Louisiana Council for Social Studies, and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Group photograph of Veterans Attending Atrium Program


Click here to view the group photograph of School System employees and guests who attended the special Veterans Day program in the Atrium of the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex on November 13, 2008.


Little Pearl Elementary Opens Its Doors To Students


Little Pearl Elementary School welcomed its first group of students November 11 in beautiful weather. More than 150 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students filed into the new facility accompanied by their parents or delivered by school bus from around the Pearl RIver community.

Guides were stationed at the front entrance and bus drop off to help parents and students find their way throughout the new school. The students had been housed by Riverside Elementary School temporarily this year until the new campus on Hwy. 11 was completed.

Classroom doorways were decorated with Thanksgiving Holiday themes, and teachers and maintenance workers had worked steadily over the past week to prepare the building for its first pupils.

Little Pearl features sixteen classrooms, including two dedicated to Special Education, a Multi-Purpose room, Cafeteria, and Kitchen. Several features built into the school allow educators to focus on the young ages of the students and create developmentally appropriate programs. One new feature of this school is that every three classrooms share a covered porch so teachers can incorporate sand tables and other active outdoor activities.

The school will serve as an early childhood center for the Pearl River community. Click here for the school's web page.


New Madisonville Elementary School Named In Honor of Lancaster


The St. Tammany Parish School Board agreed Thursday night to name the new elementary school being planned for the Madisonville area in honor of Joseph B. Lancaster, the first officially-recorded superintendent of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System. Superintendent Gayle Sloan recommended the action after researching Lancaster's many contributions to the community. It was also noted that Lancaster was a direct descendant of a prominent Madisonville family.Lancaster was a well-known figure in St. Tammany Parish, a lawyer who served as District Attorney for the 26th Judicial District as well as a judge.  In his first meeting with the new school board, he told them it was their duty to be a leader in educational advancement of the parish. “It is for you and for me to create an enthusiasm in their hearts for public schools and to be a leader in the cause of education,” he said.He served as Superintendent of Schools between September, 1900, to September, 1904, and died in 1916. A resolution following his funeral noted that by Lancaster’s untiring energy and zeal, he had succeeded in placing the public school system of St. Tammany on a sound basis and laid the foundation for the splendid position now enjoyed by the System. He worked to extend the three-month school year to six months a year, and his goal was to eventually provide school for nine months a year.Superintendent Sloan felt it would be fitting to name the new Madisonville area school after Lancaster to recognize his contributions and vision. In response to considerable growth in the area, the new elementary school will offer more than 30 classrooms and is to be located off Hwy. 22 west of Madisonville near Perriloux Road. Click here to see the proposed location. Funds to construct the school were approved in the March 2008 Bond Issue referendum, and the opening of the new school is anticipated for the 2011-2012 School Year. Public meetings were held last month to discuss grade configurations for the new facility. Following those meetings, the grade configuration committee reached a consensus that the recommendation to the School Board would be to have students in Pre-Kindergarten through first grade remain on the campus at Madisonville Elementary School, grades two through five on the new elementary school campus, and grades six through eight at Madisonville Junior High School.  The configuration of grades for each site was based on the projected students in the grade spans and the capacity of each school.  The School Board also adopted the recommendation on the grade configuration.

Architects for the project are Gasaway-Gasaway-Bankston, and the construction budget is estimated at $19.5 million.


Cooks for Kids Video Shot at Cypress Cove Elementary


An educational television segment that showcases healthy cooking for children filmed a "best practices" video at Cypress Cove Elementary School in Slidell November 7. The segment focuses on local school cafeteria preparation of a regional favorite, gumbo made with a greaseless brown roux.Videos were shot of food preparation, students in lunch lines and the dining room, and interviews with students, Principal Lisa Dial, Food Service Manager Robin Blakeman, and Food Service Supervisor Sylvia Dunn. A nutrition education class, physical education class, and general campus shots were also video-taped for the project.The purpose of the program "Cooks for Kids: Healthful Cooking Across America" is to address the problem of childhood obesity by offering ideas for healthier food preparation through school food service departments. Food service employees are the primary audience for the videos being produced. The end result of videos such as this is to inspire foodservice staff to prepare and serve nutritious and appealing foods in child nutrition programs. Teaching healthy food habits that will carry the wellness message into the home is a goal of the thirty-minute showcase of recipes, techniques, and practical solutions that schools can adopt to prepare healthier and tastier meals.

The new program is being put together by the National Food Service Management Institute (USDA).


Three St. Tammany Public Schools Honored by Making the Grade Project


Little Oak Middle School, Bonne Ecole Elementary School, and Slidell High School were among the seven winners in this year’s “Making The Grade” Recognition Program sponsored by Omni Bank with New Orleans Saints player Drew Brees serving as its spokesman.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan and representatives from each school recently met with Brees and bank officials at a special ceremony to award each $2000 in prizes recognizing their innovative efforts to help students learn and achieve.

Schools were invited to send in nomination forms sharing their ideas. Bonne Ecole Elementary told about its “Robostars” project; Little Oak Middle School described its “Firecrackers” motivational effort; and Slidell High School nominated its “Freshman Transition” program. Principals Dr. April Owens from Bonne Ecole Elementary, Amy V.Dicarlo from Little Oak Middle School, and William Percy of Slidell High all took part in the event.

The “Making The Grade” program showcases success stories from schools throughout the New Orleans area, publicizing their projects throughout the year through local broadcast media.

“Making the Grade” began in the late 1980’s as a way to focus attention on the positive strides schools were making. It helped publicize the exceptional and progressive projects and curricula in the school systems in the metropolitan New Orleans area. Omni Bank has re-launched the concept and with its spokesman Drew Brees plans to continue sharing ideas and inspiring public awareness of the good things happening in area schools.


Board Adopts Attendance District For New High School


Following three and a half hours of discussion, the St. Tammany Parish School Board voted Tuesday night to adopt attendance boundaries for the new high school on Hwy. 1088 based on Map 3, an area proposed by Board Member Don Villere October 16.

After hearing from dozens of parents attending the meeting, the Board turned down maps that included residential subdivisions west of La. 59 (Map 1) or areas north of Hwy. 36 outside the Abita Springs town limits (Map 2) .

CLICK HERE to view the map chosen by the Board, which is similar to the current attendance boundaries of Monteleone Junior High School.

While the map outlines a district which initially will not populate the high school with as many students as the other maps, the Board felt that future growth in the area would increase the enrollment numbers over the next few years. Members agreed to an amendment that will prompt a review of the school's enrollment in two years, when adjustments could be made in response to the opening of an interchange off Interstate 12 and anticipated residential growth.

New information packets on the three proposed attendance boundary maps were evaluated by board members, along with hundreds of emails, phone calls, and personal visits. Statistics portraying the demographic make-up of the new school under all three map scenarios were updated and projected enrollments provided.

At the start of the meeting, Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Cheryl Arabie gave reports on what the new facility would be like and what academic offerings were being developed. Superintendent Gayle Sloan noted that a full time administrator would be hired soon to begin the work of getting the school ready to receive its ninth and tenth grade students next fall.

Concerns expressed by the parents included traffic safety issues, the number of students left at Fontainebleau High after the new school opens, and proximity of the school for students coming in from existing feeder schools.

For an informational page about the new high school, click here.



School Board Considers Attendance District Boundaries


A special meeting to consider adoption of an attendance district for the new high school being built on Hwy. 1088 will be held by the School Board October 28 at 7:00 p.m. at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex.

New information packets on the three proposed attendance boundary maps are currently being evaluated by board members. The proposed attendance map scenarios include Map 1 recommended by the boundary study committee from the September 29 meeting,  Map 2 from the committee’s September 29 meeting, and Map 3,  an alternate map proposed by Board Member Don Villere at the Board’s October 16 meeting

In preparation for tonight's meeting, Supervisor Regina Stanford has worked with school principals from all schools with sixth through ninth grades that are part of the Fontainebleau High School feeder system to compile the most accurate information for the three map scenarios being considered. 

Sixth grade students from Abita Springs Middle School, Bayou Lacombe Middle School, Lake Harbor Middle School, and Mandeville Middle School, seventh and eighth graders from Fontainebleau Junior High School and Monteleone Junior High School, and ninth graders at Fontainebleau High School were identified for the designated high school attendance under the three proposed maps.

Previous data came from student numbers rolled forward from the previous year and a survey of students during the opening week of school and was not as up to date as the data collected earlier this week.  Staff members are working to project the best view of what the new high school will look like in its first year with freshmen and sophomore classes and in its third year when it serves ninth through 12th grades.

The maps and associated data may be viewed by clicking here.

You may click here if you would like to make a public comment by way of e-mail. Board Members will receive copies of the e-mails received through the public comments link.

The special Tuesday meeting will take place at the C.J. Schoen Administrative Complex at 321 North Theard Street in Covington. Persons wishing to address the Board about this matter may contact Board Secretary Karrel Weathers at 985-898-3216 to be put on the list of speakers or sign up at the podium at least fifteen minutes before the start of tonight's meeting.


Public Schools Close for National Election Day


The St. Tammany Parish Public School System will close schools and school support offices on Tuesday, November 4, the day of the national Presidential Election.  Offices will re-open and classes will resume on Wednesday, November 5.

Many public school buildings are used as polling places, and the school holiday on Presidential Election Tuesdays aims to give voters better access to cast their ballots and avoid any distractions that may arise with students on campus.


Little Pearl Elementary School Set to Open


The newly built Little Pearl Elementary School will open its doors to students on Tuesday, November 11, 2008. The school will serve as an early childhood center for the Pearl River community.

Little Pearl features sixteen classrooms, including two dedicated to Special Education, a Multi-Purpose room, Cafeteria, and Kitchen. It will house 153 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. There are several features built into the school in order to allow educators to focus on the young ages of the students and create developmentally appropriate programs. One new feature of this school is that every three classrooms share a covered porch so teachers can incorporate sand tables and other active outdoor activities.

Teachers and staff will be busy this weekend as they work to move into the new school and set up their classrooms. The students started the school year at Riverside Elementary School but operated as a separate school under Principal April Whitfield. On November 11, 2008, the students will move into the new facilities on U.S. 11. Administrators and teachers are working on a smooth transition that will include tours of the new school for the children during their first day on campus.


Grade Range Being Evaluated For New Madisonville Area Elementary School


Discussion is continuing concerning the new elementary school planned for the Madisonville area, and a grade configuration for the school will be considered by the School Board next week following a period of public input on the matter.

The school, approved in the March 2008 Bond Issue referendum, was the subject of a community meeting held in September at Madisonville Elementary School.  The discussion included a suggestion that students should be kept together until high school. This could be accomplished by having more schools with shorter grade spans or dividing students into attendance boundary areas to attend two Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade schools before transferring into Madisonville Junior High School for grades six through eight.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan and Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse met recently with a committee of parents, administrators, and teachers from Madisonville Elementary and Madisonville Junior High School to present the input received through emails and letters from parents as well as opinions gathered by the school principals from staff members.

The committee reached a consensus that the recommendation to the School Board will be to have students in Pre-Kindergarten through first grade remain on the campus at Madisonville Elementary School, grades two through five on the new elementary school campus, and grades six through eight at Madisonville Junior High School.  The configuration of grades for each site was based on the projected students in the grade spans and the capacity of each school. 

The proposed grade levels recommendation will go the Committee as a Whole for Administration and Business Affairs on Thursday, November 6, 2008, at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex.  If approved at the Committee level, the recommendation could go before the full Board for consideration at its November 13, 2008, School Board Meeting.  To provide input to the Board for consideration of this matter, click here.

The School Board has identified a potential location for the proposed school on Highway 22.  Click here to see proposed site.   The opening of the new school is anticipated for the 2011-2012 School Year.


Attendance Boundary To Be Considered October 28


School Board action on adopting an attendance district for the new high school on La. Hwy. 1088 was postponed until Tuesday, October 28, after the School Board listened to and considered opinions voiced by parents at a special October 16 meeting.

The three and a half hour meeting began with a presentation by Donna Addison, chairman of the boundary study committee, which included the reasons behind her group’s recommended attendance map. After her report, School Board Member Don Villere proposed a new map, and the rest of the meeting involved the pros and cons associated with each map.

Debate ended when a motion passed to call a special October 28 meeting, at which time the newly proposed map will be evaluated along with the Committee’s recommended map as well as Map 2 from the committee's September 29 meeting. Several members in the audience asked that Map 2 also be considered by the Board.

Click here to view the three maps being considered by Board members, who are also looking at public comments from the School System website, written comments provided by parents, as well as a variety of statistics presented. School Board staff members are working to update statistical information and demographic data to project the best view of what the new high school will look like in its first year with freshmen and sophomore classes and in its third year when it serves ninth through 12 th grades. This information will be posted on the Web site around the middle of this week.

You may click here if you would like to make a public comment by way of e-mail in advance of the October 28 meeting. Board Members will receive copies of the e-mails received through the public comments link.


New High School Attendance Boundary To Be Considered


The School Board will meet tonight to consider adopting an attendance district for the new high school now being built on Hwy. 1088. Board members will be looking at all of the considered maps, public comments from the School System website, written comments provided by parents,  as well as a variety of statistics before its special meeting beginning at 7 p.m.

The chairperson of the committee evaluating proposed attendance boundary lines for the new school provided School Board members last week with a packet of documents collected during the committee deliberations.  The committee selected its choice of an attendance zone for the new high school on Monday, September 29, after hearing comments from over 250 parents at the final public input meeting and reviewing public comments received through the School System website.

While the committee has made its decision on a recommended plan, the School Board may revise or change the plan to take out or add other areas for consideration. The Committee Chairperson gave informational packets to Board Members so they can study all of the information in advance of the Special Meeting. To see the packet provided to School Board Members, Click here.

The committee recommended an area to attend the new high school that incorporates all of the Monteleone Junior High School attendance boundaries and some areas assigned to Fontainebleau Junior High School. Click here to view the suggested map. You may have to click on the map image again to view it at full size.

You can click here if you would like to make a public comment by way of e-mail in advance of tonight's meeting.  Board Members will receive copies of the e-mails received through the public comments link.

Board President Neal Hennegan has announced that individuals will be allowed three minutes at the podium to address the issue at the special meeting. Each person will be allowed to come forward to speak  one time in order to give everyone a chance to share his or her comments. Those planning to attend are encouraged to allow a spokesperson for a subdivision or other groups to represent their views in order to facilitate an orderly and time efficient process. 

If you would like to speak at the meeting, you may sign up at the podium in advance of the meeting or you can call Karrel Weathers at 985-898-3216 to be placed on the list of persons requesting three minutes to address the Board. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the C.J. Schoen Administrative Complex located at 321 N. Theard Street in Covington.


St. Tammany Students Participate in World Water Monitoring Day


More than fifty St. Tammany students teamed up with Parish engineers to test the water and study the wildlife in Lake Pontchartrain as part of World Water Monitoring Day. The project gives students the opportunity to learn about our local natural resources in a larger, global setting.

The science students from Mandeville Junior High worked together with the engineers to test four basic indicators of water quality in Lake Pontchartrain. Engineers also showed the basic types of fish that live in the lake water and how to use a casting net.

Students around the world from Argentina to Zimbabwe have visited local waterways as part of World Water Monitoring Day. Following the field trip, the students returned to the classroom to post their local results on the internet and compare them to other student’s findings in foreign countries.


Forum Features Songs, Exhibits, and Discussion To Promote Safe Driving


Students from across St. Tammany Parish used songs and music to get the message across at this year’s Teen Focus on Safe Driving. The theme, American Idol: St. Tammany, gave students the opportunity to incorporate singing and dancing in the program to teach students to make good choices when getting behind the wheel.

Teams of students from every St. Tammany Parish Public High School as well as private high schools participated in the event. Teenagers heard from inspirational speaker Indelethio “Indy” Nebeker who guided the students through the seminar, “Meet Your Future Self, Your Life Depends on It!” Channel 13’s Melody Swang also took to the stage for the Teen Focus Spotlight, “What Will It Take to Achieve Your Dreams?” During breakout sessions, students talked to members of law enforcement and emergency medical technicians about what they see on the roads on a daily basis.

One of the most effective workshops of the day was the Jaws of Life demonstration. Firefighters showed students just how long it could take to cut victims out of a car. The teenagers watched every move as paramedics described what would be happening if they were looking at a real accident.

The fourth Teen Focus on Safe Driving was part of the School System’s commitment to find ways to help prevent automobile deaths and injuries among our teens. In recent years, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System and our community have been saddened by the loss of life and injuries to our young people in automobile accidents. The safety of our teenagers is a top priority not only in our schools but also throughout the entire community.
During the forum, the student teams worked on plans to take safety messages back to their schools so that all students will understand the necessity of driving carefully. The program concluded with a finale featuring the hit song, The Time of Your Life, performed by St. Tammany students.

Parent's Focus on Safe Teen Driving Photograph

Channel 13 Video of Teen Focus on Safe Driving Song Presentation


National School Lunch Week Observed


Food service staffs throughout the School System are being recognized for their excellent efforts this week, October 13 through October 17, as part of the national observance of School Lunch Week.

The theme for the celebration is  “Vote for School Lunch,” and parents, grandparents, and other special guests are visiting schools this week to take part in special lunchtime events. Menus for the week were planned jointly by the food service staffs and the Student Nutrition Advisory Councils (SNAC).

The School Board last week passed a resolution proclaiming local participation in National School Lunch Week, thanking the students on the SNAC committees, Food Service Supervisor Sylvia Dunn, and the food service lunchroom technicians and cafeteria managers for their excellent work in providing 8,923 breakfasts and 25,429 lunches daily in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System.

Click here for more information on the School System’s Food Service Department.


Parent Focus on Safe Teen Driving To Be October 14


The St. Tammany Parish Public School System will host an informational forum, the Parent Focus on Safe Teen Driving, on Tuesday, October 14, from 5:30 until 8:00 p.m. at the Pelican Park Castine Center in Mandeville.

This meeting will include important presentations on issues such as laws related to teen driving, insurance facts regarding teen drivers, risk factors involved in teen driving accidents, and community programs available. An exhibit area will be open from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. before the actual forum.

Parents are invited to attend this Tuesday’s event, the second annual parents forum to accompany the Teen Focus on Safe Driving to be held on Wednesday. No pre-registration is required. This event is for parents and teens in grades 8-12. Click here for flyer.


Food Service Supervisor Speaks at Childhood Obesity and Public Health Forum


Members of the scientific community from across the South took part in a Childhood Obesity conference at the Pennington Biomedical Center in Baton Rouge recently. 

School Food Service Supervisor Sylvia Dunn was invited to participate in a panel discussion to share information on the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) “Gold Award” Menus which are served to thousands of students each day in St. Tammany Parish.

Additionally, the conference dealt with Louisiana’s Report Card on Physical Activity and Health for Children and Youth and the epidemic of childhood obesity currently plaguing the nation.

Mrs. Dunn’s overview of the Gold Standard menus available in St. Tammany Parish schools included a description of the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat milk, and leaner meat choices which are offered. As one of only two school districts in the nation to have adopted these higher nutritional menu standards, the success of the St. Tammany program was presented as a model for other districts. USDA’s “Gold Award” menus provide one positive approach in combating childhood obesity.

The conference subtitle “A Lifespan Approach to Prevention” featured presentations on childhood obesity by scientists and medical doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Tulane University, the University of Texas, and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.


New High School Attendance Boundary To Be Considered


The chairperson of the committee evaluating proposed attendance boundary lines for the new high school located on Highway 1088 provided School Board members with a packet of documents collected during the committee deliberations.  

The committee selected its choice of an attendance zone for the new high school on Monday, September 29, 2008 and will recommend it to the School Board for its evaluation. The committee members voted after hearing comments from over 250 parents at the final public input meeting and reviewing public comments received through the School System website.

While the committee has made its decision on a recommended plan, the School Board may revise or change the plan to take out or add other areas for consideration. The School Board will be looking at all of the considered maps, public comments from the School System website, written comments provided by parents,  as well as a variety of statistics before meeting on October 16, 2008. The Committee Chairperson gave informational packets to Board Members on Tuesday so they can study all of the information in advance of the Special Meeting. To see the packet provided to School Board Members, Click here.

The committee recommended an area to attend the new high school that incorporates all of the Monteleone Junior High School attendance boundaries and some areas assigned to Fontainebleau Junior High School. Click here to view the suggested map. You may have to click on the map image again to view it at full size.

You can click here if you would like to make a public comment by way of e-mail in advance of the meeting.  Board Members will receive copies of the e-mails received through the public comments link.

The full School Board is set to consider attendance boundary lines for the new high school located on Highway 1088 at a special meeting on Thursday, October 16, 2008. The Board will receive the committee’s recommendation and listen to public comments made in person at the special meeting. Board President Neal Hennegan has announced that individuals will be allowed three minutes at the podium to address the issue. Each person will be allowed to come forward to speak  one time in order to give everyone a chance to share his or her comments. Those planning to attend are encouraged to allow a spokesperson for a subdivision or other groups to represent their views in order to facilitate an orderly and time efficient process. 

If you would like to speak at the meeting, you may sign up at the podium in advance of the meeting or you can call Karrel Weathers at 985-898-3216 to be placed on the list of persons requesting three minutes to address the Board. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the C.J. Schoen Administrative Complex located at 321 N. Theard Street in Covington.


Students Get Day Off Today For Teacher Workday


Students will not have to attend school today, Friday, October 10, as teachers are taking part in professional development workshops and fulfilling record-keeping duties.

The first grading period of the 2008-2009 School Year ended Thursday, October 9, and teachers are attending professional development sessions this morning and completing end of grading period record-keeping in the afternoon.

Classes for students resume Monday, October 13.

Following that, the next holiday for students and teachers of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System will be Tuesday, November 4, the day of the presidential election.


Schools Close Friday for Parish Fair Holiday


The St. Tammany Parish Public School System will close all schools and school support offices this Friday, October 3, in observance of the annual parish fair holiday. The fair begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, offering a variety of educational exhibits and community activities.

On the Friday schedule of events for the fair are a parade through downtown Covington, livestock showings, horticulture exhibits, arts and crafts displays, and informational booths decorated with student work from more than 45 schools throughout the parish. This year's theme for the educational exhibits is "Democracy In Action: America Votes."

Letting schools out for the Friday of the fair is a tradition which goes back many years and helps encourage student and family participation in the community event.


Full Power Restored to Covington High


Repairs to CLECO electrical equipment that caused a reduction of electrical power at Covington High School Wednesday have been completed, and all parts of the school are fully functioning at this time.  All students are expected to attend school on Thursday.The problem caused air conditioning to be limited to modular classrooms, lighting in some parts of the buildings was lower than normal, and phone service was also affected. Water and sewerage services were not affected and functioned throughout the day.

Students who were picked up early by their parents Wednesday because of the problem will be provided excused absences.


Committee Votes to Recommend Attendance Map


Consideration of attendance boundary lines for the new high school located on Highway 1088 will move from the committee phase to the next step in the process. On Monday, September 29, 2008, the committee selected an attendance zone for the new high school to recommend to the School Board for its evaluation. 

The vote was taken after the committee heard comments from over 250 parents and others in attendance who voiced their opinions on the matter.  The area recommended to attend the new high school takes in all of the Monteleone Junior High School attendance boundaries and some areas assigned to Fontainebleau Junior High School, including those located along the northern side of Highway 1088 beginning at Highway 59 and moving east along Highway 1088, and an area west of Highway 59 that includes Hunter’s Glen, all subdivisions north and south of Lonesome Road that empty onto Lonesome Road and the entire subdivision of Greenleaves, including The Lakes.

Click here to view the suggested map.  You may have to click on the map image again to view it full size. Large scale copies of the map will be available for viewing at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex, Fontainebleau High School, Fontainebleau Junior High School, and Monteleone Junior High School beginning later this week. 

If you have questions about the map, please call 892-2276 and ask to be connected to a supervisor assigned to the new high school boundary lines project.The recommendation of the committee will now be considered by the full School Board at a Special Board Meeting on Thursday, October 16, 2008, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the C.J. Schoen Administrative Complex, located at 321 N. Theard Street in Covington. While the committee has made its decision on a recommended plan, the Board may revise or change the plan to take out or add other areas for consideration. 

Click here to email a public comment on this matter.While decisions about the attendance boundary lines for the new school move forward, much progress continues to be made on the construction of the new facility.  The Board will advertise for a principal for the new school this week and is expected to make a selection at its November 13, 2008, School Board Meeting. 

For an informational page about the new high school, click here.


Attendance Boundary Committee To Meet Tonight


The committee working on attendance boundary recommendations for the new high school on Hwy. 1088 will meet again tonight, Monday, September 29, at 7:00 p.m. in the cafeteria at Fontainebleau High School.

Proposed boundary maps from the last meeting, suggestions made by those in attendance, phone calls to committee members, and emails from the School System Web site are being consolidated in anticipation of a final recommendation to present to the School Board for consideration next month.

Public comments may be emailed by clicking here.

Committee work groups are expected to suggest some changes, which could result in completely different maps, to the meeting Monday for further review. Each of the three committee work groups is comprised of teachers, parents and a principal.

Officials plan to advertise for a new principal in October, and currently construction on the new school is ahead of schedule. The facility is expected to be ready for the start of the 2009-2010 School Session in September of next year.


School To Work Programs Commended


Students across St. Tammany Parish continue to benefit from the partnership between the Public School System and area Louisiana Technical Colleges, according to a report presented recently to the St. Tammany Parish School Board.

This year the School To Work programs in several high schools are providing almost two thousand students advanced skills and certifications in a variety of fields. There is also an extra effort going into providing students with job offers directly after graduation.

Courses range from diesel mechanics and automotive technology to carpentry and electrical installation, as well as culinary arts and horticulture. Program directors say training in welding is very popular. They are working to expand that training through a portable unit being brought soon to the Slidell area. Cosmotology training also may be offered next year, officials said, in response to student interest. Other areas of training include computer technology, networking, drafting, First Responder, Certified Nursing Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, and office systems.

To personalize the successes and opportunities made possible by the program, two students were introduced to the Board.

Sean Gansarsik, a Covington High senior, spoke to the Board about his three years in the automotive technology program, saying it was enjoyable, productive, and promises to be an excellent resource on his resume when he graduates and enters the job market. The program offers him ASE certification, which will assure prospective employers of his skill level and professionalism in the field.

Natalie Giamundo, a 2008 graduate from Fontainebleau High School, told the Board of her employment following her EMT Basic training at Fontainebleau. Motivated by a desire to make a difference and save lives, she credited the School To Work program with her getting her current position as an Emergency Room Technician at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.

Shortly after graduation, she received five different national EMT certifications and earned nine college credits as a result of the training she received, plus she was awarded six additional college credits this past summer along with a scholarship from LSU. This means that beginning with the Spring semester, she will be a college sophomore at LSU, she reported.

“This program has done amazing things for me, and I am so pleased the School Board has offered this,” Giamundo told the Board. “I believe it will change the futures of many students.”

She also has led an effort to have portable heart defibrillators available at athletic events and other public places, since the devices have been shown to help save people who are having sudden heart attacks. Her senior project in high school was to promote the placement of the defibrillators, and she has continued that effort on the state level.

In July, she was named First Responder of the Year by the Louisiana State National Registered Emergency Medical Technician Association, and she is now being considered for the national award.

Regional technical college representatives said that a 26 percent increase in the number of students enrolled in work force training took place between this year and last School Session. Parents especially have expressed appreciation for the well-paid job opportunities made available to their children as a result of this program.

Officials noted that 18 separate legislative measures touching upon work force training programs passed this past state legislative session, an indication of the growing interest in offering more training opportunities. School Board members were told how stringent accreditation processes help assure that School to Work programs continue to be effective and meaningful in the current labor market. Each student who graduates from the program is tracked for at least a year to assure that success in the job market is achieved.

School To Work coordinators from four of the high schools were on hand for the meeting, as were regional officials from the Louisiana Technical College. Sandy James was also recognized as the District School To Work program coordinator.



NASA Michoud Tour Teachers Producing Videos


A group of science teachers from the St. Tammany Parish Public School System took part in a two-week NASA/LaSPACE Michoud Education Fellows Program this summer, during which they videotaped interviews with a variety of Michoud engineers and scientists at the New Orleans East facility.

Five of the teachers are working with Educational Broadcast Channel 13 to produce five minute video segments of the interviews. The videos will illustrate for students how science, mathematics and communication skills are used by the scientists, engineers and other professionals at the Michoud Assembly Facility.

Participating in the video production workshop at Channel 13 are Paul Chandler, Slidell High School; Ruth Hill, Monteleone Junior High School; Crystal Drake, St. Tammany Junior High School; and Deborah Nunez, Covington High School.

Click Here for the Web site article on the original tour of NASA facilities and the first-of-its-kind professional development program St. Tammany educators were able to be a part of this summer.



Design Discussed For New Elementary School in Madisonville Area


School System officials spoke to parents, teachers, and other interested parties about the new elementary school planned for the Madisonville area on Tuesday, September 15, 2008, at a gathering held at Madisonville Elementary School. 

An update on land acquisition, architect selection, and the construction timeline was provided, and input was solicited on the grade levels that would be housed in the new school.  While School System officials recommend that PreKindergarten through Fifth Grade be included in the school plan, the community was invited to provide their own opinions to be considered by the School Board.

Under the proposal, the current Madisonville Elementary School would also house PreKindergarten through Grade Five, and attendance boundaries would be designated for each of the elementary schools. As recommended, the new school and the current Madisonville Elementary School would have PreK through Fourth Grade in the first year after the new elementary opens and then add Fifth Grade in the second year.  All students would attend Madisonville Junior High School for Grades Six through Eight.

The discussion included consideration of keeping students together through junior high school by having more schools with shorter grade spans.  A grade configuration that would include Madisonville Elementary as a PreKindergarten through First Grade school, the new school for Grades 2 through 5, and students in Grades 6 through 8 attending  Madisonville Junior High School was another option that was discussed.

Those with input into the grade span decision are invited to write the Superintendent at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex, 321 N. Theard Street, Covington, LA 70434, fax to 985-898-3281, or email.  Click here  to email public comments concerning the new school to school officials.

To view the proposed site plan, click here.
To view an aerial photograph of the new school’s location, click here.


Revised Boundary Maps for New 1088 High School


The second public meeting to discuss attendance boundaries for the new high school being constructed on Highway 1088 took place Monday night, September 15 at Fontainebleau High School with School System leaders and parents in attendance. The committee members evaluating the proposed boundary lines presented three new map scenarios.

All of the scenarios would have between 500 and 600 students starting in the 9th and 10th grades of the new high school in the fall of 2009.The three new maps will be available for viewing and public comment for two weeks. On Monday, September 29 a third public meeting will take place in order for committee members to report on progress and hear further public comment.The committee is reviewing population information, area maps and public comments to come up with suggested boundary line scenarios.

Each of the three committee work groups is comprised of teachers, parents and a principal. Once the full committee has completed its research and received input from the public, a recommendation will be made to School Board for its consideration.

School Leaders plan to advertise for a new principal in October and currently construction on the new school is ahead of schedule.

Those wishing to make comments may send an email by clicking here.

View File (jpg)


New High School Attendance Boundary Committee Meets


The second public meeting to discuss attendance boundaries for the new high school being constructed on Highway 1088 will be held September 15 at 7:00 p.m. in the cafeteria at Fontainebleau High School.

The committee evaluating proposed attendance boundary lines met August 25 at Fontainebleau High School, heard public comment, and examined three proposed map scenarios. At its September 15th meeting, the committee will report on progress and continue working on suggested changes.

The committee is reviewing population information, area maps, and public comments before developing one or more suggested boundary line scenarios. Once the committee has completed its research and received input from the public, a recommendation will be made to the School Board for its consideration.

Those wishing to make comments may send an email by clicking here.


New ID System at All Schools


A new visitor identification system will begin in all St. Tammany Parish Public schools on October, 1, 2008. The system will allow school officials to scan a visitor’s driver’s license or enter information from other forms of identification. The program was piloted at eight of St. Tammany’s schools to determine its effectiveness before installing equipment at all schools.

It will allow employees to track visitor entry and exit, prepare visitor badges, and verify identity for authorized release of students and cross check identities with the National Registry of Sex Offenders. “We believe the initiative is a worthwhile, proactive means of helping schools manage visitors on our campuses,” said Schools Superintendent Gayle Sloan.

School leaders are mindful of how important it is to protect personal information, especially Social Security Numbers. For that reason, this identification system blocks out those numbers. The only information shown on the school’s computer screen when a license is scanned will be the name, address, sex and date of birth.

Parents and any other visitors to school campuses should now be prepared to show proper identification. Sloan said, “This is another means of helping safeguard our students.”


New Madisonville Elementary School Meeting Set For September 16


A meeting to discuss the design of a new elementary school in the Madisonville area has been rescheduled for Tuesday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m. at Madisonville Elementary School. The meeting, originally scheduled for September 2, was postponed due to Hurricane Gustav.

The purpose of the meeting is to give parents and staff  an opportunity to give input on plans for the new facility. Interested parents and staff members from both Madisonville Elementary School and Madisonville Junior High School, as well as other interested community members, are invited to attend.

The construction of the new elementary school is part of the March, 2008, bond reauthorization package. Land was purchased on Hwy. 22 for the new school earlier this year. Initial planning was based on constructing a school with pre-kindergarten through fifth grades.


School District’s Energy Management Program Wins Awards


The School System’s Energy Management Program continues to earn recognition from national and state agencies for reducing energy usage.

Dr. John Swang, director of the program, appeared before the School Board at its September meeting to report that the School System had reduced its energy usage by 15.6 percent, leading to an energy cost avoidance of $1,596,590.

“We’ve had a very successful year,” Dr. Swang said, adding that the System received three national awards as a result, the “Energy Milestone Award” from SEE (Schools for Energy Efficiency), an Energy Star-Leader Certificate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and, the latest being an Energy Star Label for the Instructional Technology Center in Mandeville.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s distinguished ENERGY STAR Label went to the Tech Center for the School System’s efforts to protect the environment through superior energy performance. The Tech Center is the first and only school district facility in the State of Louisiana to receive the designation, Dr. Swang stated.

The ENERGY STAR Label identifies the Tech Center as one of 5,402 energy efficient buildings in the nation, and one of only 30 in the state to be so designated. The Tech Center is using about 35 percent less energy than average buildings. By implementing innovative controls and energy-monitoring procedures, the center lowered its energy costs by 38.4 percent and avoided energy costs totaling more than $30,000. 

“St. Tammany Parish Public School System is pleased to accept the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Label designation for the Technology Center,” said Gayle Sloan, Schools Superintendent. “We are committed to creating an energy efficient environment. Through this project we have lowered our overall energy costs and this benefits our entire School System.”

In August, the EPA awarded the School System the Energy Star-Leader Award for its leadership in improving its average energy performance rating and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through superior energy management. “We are the first and only School District in the State of Louisiana to receive this honor, and one of only 42 school districts in the entire nation so designated,” Dr. Swang reported. “The EPA tells us that by getting both these awards, our School District is showing superior management and environmental leadership.”

In addition, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources awarded the School Board its Environmental Stewardship Award, in recognition of outstanding leadership in adopting and implementing energy efficiency measures. The award certificate states that students and faculty will enjoy the benefits of the School Board’s fiscally-prudent and environmentally beneficial energy management practices in protecting the environment, managing natural resources and benefitting the community.

The SEE program’s award banner was presented to the School Board for saving over $1 million in energy costs.

Dr. Swang commended the students, teachers and staff throughout the parish for changing behavior patterns and taking part in the effort to turn off unneeded lights, switching off computers and monitors when not in use, and overall thermostat monitoring to save energy.

His staff was also on hand for his presentation to the Board. They are Pat Flanagan, who implemented data tracking and results monitoring efforts; Barry Pichon, who served as liaison to the school staffs (administrative, maintenance, and custodial); and Cathy Serpas, who helped organize the program and will take over data tracking records keeping.

The St. Tammany Parish School Board implemented its Energy Management Program in December 2005, emphasizing energy-saving strategies that sought to raise awareness through employee training. In addition to asking staff and students to turn off electrical equipment when not in use, the School System also optimized the maintenance of all electrical equipment to ensure efficient performance.

Click on link below for related photograph.



Update on Hurricane Ike Weather Conditions


Schools had near normal routines throughout the parish public schools Friday despite weather conditions.  Power outages that occurred at some schools were quickly dealt with through the efforts of local utility companies.

School System officials worked with schools that have students living in areas where road closures may have caused bus service to be affected for school dismissal.  Parents who were concerned about students being able to be delivered by bus to homes in low lying areas could pick up their children at school anytime during the school day.  School personnel remained on school sites Friday until all students were delivered to their homes or parents made arrangements for picking up children where buses cannot get to homes. 

All students who are absent today will be excused and allowed to make up schoolwork. 


Video Portrays Legal Consequences of Making A Bomb Threat


A short video produced by Channel 13 Educational Television will give students a clear understanding of the serious legal consequences resulting from making threatening messages, whether deliberate or in jest.The video premiered at the School Board’s September 9 committee meeting, with Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse introducing it as an effort aimed at communicating to students the very real possibility of their arrest, indictment, and imprisonment after making a bomb threat either by voice, written note or by electronic means.

The segment features several law enforcement officials citing what happens when young people make such threats. Persons interviewed included Sheriff Jack Strain, First Assistant District Attorney Houston C. Gascon III, United States District Attorney Jim Letten, and School System Administrative Supervisor Mike Cosse'. Cosse' notes that the law says if a person is convicted of communicating a bomb threat on a school campus, then that person shall be imprisoned not more than 20 years, with or without hard labor.

Folse commented that “something the students may see as a joke is what we treat as a very serious matter.”  The School System has pledged to work with local law enforcement agencies to vigorously investigate and prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, any students found to be guilty of making such threats. “The price the students may pay is high,” said Folse, “Expulsion, criminal charges, and a record that will follow them for life.”

Folse said threatening messages result in the loss of classroom instructional time and cause fear among students, parents and employees. This is what prompted Channel 13 to produce a straightforward video presentation of what actually happens when a bomb threat suspect is caught.

To view the video, Click Here. You will need to have Quicktime player software on your computer to view the movie.


Students Observe First Circuit Court of Appeals Session


More than 100 students from the St. Tammany Parish Public School System went to court Wednesday to observe first hand a session conducted by the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Three judges from the First Circuit Court heard appeals in a courtroom at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center in Covington during one of their annual visits outside of Baton Rouge to courthouses in the district. Junior and senior students from Covington High School, Fontainebleau High School, and Slidell High School were in the audience as part of their class activities in Law Studies, Gifted Civics, Honors Psychology, or American Government courses.

Judge James E. Kuhn welcomed the students and explained to them the procedures by which the court addresses the appeals from district courts. The judges said they hoped the students would be able to learn something during the day they could apply in their own lives and encouraged them to consider attending law school if they thought they might decide to become attorneys.

The attorneys representing the cases were asked to explain their cases to the students prior to the court session, so the young people would clearly understand the nature of the appeals they would be hearing.

Last year, the First Circuit held its appeals court session in the School Board meeting room when courtrooms at the parish justice center were unavailable.

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Gustav Clean Up Begins


St. Tammany Parish School employees began evaluating campuses and cleaning up debris as soon as Hurricane Gustav moved out of the area. “We were very lucky with Hurricane Gustav as it was not as powerful as predicted,” said Schools Superintendent Gayle Sloan.

The majority of schools lost power at some point during the storm. The School System is working closely with Cleco and Washington - St. Tammany Electric Cooperative to ensure that all power is restored to schools before classes resume on Monday, September 8, 2008.

Seventeen St. Tammany Parish Public Schools were used as shelters during Hurricane Gustav. In all, our schools safely cared for about 1400 residents and emergency workers during the storm. Abita Middle School was one of the buildings used as to shelter people from the St. Tammany Area. On Friday, maintenance employees were busy clearing trees and limbs from the property. Sloan said, “We are grateful our schools were spared from major damage and that our students and employees will be able to return to school after just a few days.”

Transportation and meals will be provided at all schools on Monday however other services such as before and after care will be on a school by school basis. Parents should check with principals about those services.

Hurricane Gustav damaged a lot of the area’s power lines. Because of this situation, the School System is making exceptions to the uniform policy until all power is restored to St. Tammany Parish. Parents, however, do need to notify the schools.
Many people are concerned about whether the days missed because of Hurricane Gustav will affect the school calendar. St. Tammany has more than three days of extra time in the school calendar so it’s expected Gustav will create very little disruption to the calendar. However, School leaders say any additional lost time due to emergency situations during the school year will affect the calendar.

“Once again, our community worked together to get through a hurricane and to recover quickly. Our school system is pleased to have played an important role in helping to shelter our citizens and speed up recovery efforts,” said Sloan

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St. Tammany Public Schools Reopen Today


St. Tammany Parish Public Schools reopened on Monday, September 8, 2008.

St. Tammany Parish School employees began evaluating campuses and cleaning up debris as soon as Hurricane Gustav moved out of the area. “We were very lucky with Hurricane Gustav as it was not as powerful as predicted,” said Schools Superintendent Gayle Sloan.

Seventeen St. Tammany Parish Public Schools were used as shelters during Hurricane Gustav. In all, our schools safely cared for about 1400 residents and emergency workers during the storm. Abita Middle School was one of the buildings used as to shelter people from the St. Tammany Area. On Friday, maintenance employees were busy clearing trees and limbs from the property.


Schools and School System Offices Will Close Tuesday and Wednesday, September 2 and 3


St. Tammany Parish Public School System officials have announced that schools and school support offices will be closed on both Tuesday and Wednesday, September 2 and 3, to provide our community with the time needed to deal with the threat of Hurricane Gustav. (Update: Schools will reopen on Monday, September 8)

In a previous announcement, schools were to be closed only on Tuesday, but due to the possible difficulty of returning to the area after evacuation, the closing has been extended to include Wednesday.

We know that many of our employees’ and students’ families are leaving town this holiday week-end, with plans to remain away from home until the uncertainties about Hurricane Gustav become clear.  The anticipated arrival of the storm in the Gulf Coast region on Monday will present problems regardless of where it comes in. Passage near us would produce a more direct impact, and landfall to the east or west likely would cause delays in travel home. 

Parents and employees are advised to consult our School System Web site, Channel 13 on Charter Cable Communications, our emergency message center ( inside the parish, 985-635-0801, Press 1, outside the parish, 1-800-580-1874),  and local media for updated information about any further days of school closing and information about when we will reopen.


New Channel 13 Program Explores School System Legacy


A new television program produced by Educational Channel 13 will feature in-depth interviews with persons retired from the St. Tammany Parish Public School System. Marian Arrowsmith, a former Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction and principal of Woodlake Elementary School, serves as host for the 30-minute talk show.

Entitled “Reflections,” the program focuses on how the challenges of the past lead to the opportunities of the future. “We are interviewing people who played an important role in the School System, people who had an impact on where we are and where we are going,” Mrs. Arrowsmith said.

Guests have shared what it was like to grow up and go to school in St. Tammany Parish in the early twentieth century, detailing the life challenges they faced at the time. One of her interview subjects  remembered that, in those early days, some students attended class barefoot and air conditioning was unheard of.  

“The program is a chance to honor the past by visiting with the people who helped shaped the present,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan.

Mrs. Arrowsmith is enjoying her new role as talk show host. She retired from the School System in 2006 as a supervisor of curriculum and instruction, and last year she was brought back on board as an administrative coach, helping train prospective principals and assistant principals.

She hopes her “Reflections” interviews will help viewers understand that, as we look back at history, we can gain foundational insights to make us stronger in the future.

Click Here to go to the Channel 13 Programming Schedule.

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Attendance Boundaries For New High School Are Discussed At Public Meeting


A newly-appointed committee to evaluate proposed attendance boundary lines for the new high school off Highway 1088 southeast of Abita Springs met August 25 at Fontainebleau High School. More than 200 people attended, taking the opportunity to examine three proposed map scenarios that served as starting points for discussion of possible boundary lines.

None of the three maps is intended necessarily to be a final attendance district, but served as conversation starters among those attending the meeting. A final decision may reflect one of the three or a totally different scenario.

The committee will continue to review population information, area maps, and public comments before developing one or more suggested boundary line scenarios. The next committee meeting is scheduled tentatively for September 15, 2008, at Fontainebleau High School, starting at 7:00 p. m. Continue to check this Web site for future committee meeting notices.

Once the committee has completed its research, received input from the public, and analyzed the information, a recommendation will be made to the School Board for its consideration.

Those wishing to make comments may send an email by clicking here.


New Director of Public Information Appointed


Meredith Mendez will join the St. Tammany Parish Public School System as its new Director of Public Information/Communications September 2, following the retirement of Linda Roan, who has served in that capacity for the past 17 years.

Ms. Mendez comes to the post with 15 years of experience in writing, editing, and on-the-air reporting for several television stations. A resident of Abita Springs, she will serve as media liaison for the School System and will assume various duties related to providing information to the public, including publications, Web site management, multi-media presentations, internal communications, and community relations.

"The employees of the St. Tammany Parish School System do a wonderful job of giving our children the best education possible. I am looking forward to joining them in this pursuit," Ms. Mendez commented.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan said, “We welcome Ms. Mendez to our School System and look forward to her expertise in keeping the public and news media well-informed on many fronts. We feel her extensive knowledge of our Parish and community will serve our students well.”

For the past two years, in her position with WGNO-TV in New Orleans, she has established a large number of community contacts in St. Tammany Parish and has become familiar with the work of the public education system.

Ms. Mendez earned a B.S. degree in Communications with a specialty in Broadcasting from the University of Tennessee. Part of her summer study work was in Brazil. Her broadcasting experience includes assignments in locations ranging from Washington, D.C., and Tyler, Texas, to Shreveport, Louisiana. She has been honored with awards and recognitions from the Louisiana Juvenile Justice Project, the Victims and Citizens Against Crime, the Associated Press, and Better Business Bureau.

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Director of Public Information Will Retire After 17 Years of Service


Linda E. Roan, Director of Public Information/ Communications for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System for the past 17 years, will mark her last day with the School System on August 29. Her retirement was announced by Superintendent Gayle Sloan at the August School Board meeting.

Superintendent Sloan commended Mrs. Roan for her communication expertise, work as media liaison, creativity, and dedication to anything benefitting students.  “Linda is leaving us with a strong template of public information programs, procedures and presentations that will help us to continue our communication efforts,” Mrs. Sloan said.

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Mrs. Roan moved to Louisiana in 1981. She came to work for the School System in 1991 with a background in business and industry communication and public relations. Over the years, she has assisted schools in getting the word out about hundreds of special events and accomplishments.  As primary contact with the news media, she has served as the spokesperson of the School System, but her work with the System has been broad and varied.

Mrs. Roan says that the decision to retire was difficult. “The work I do here has always been very meaningful to me. The variety of projects and tasks has been challenging and fulfilling, and the people I’ve worked with in the System are the best. I’ve appreciated their professionalism as well as their support and friendship,” she said.

She has served with three Superintendents, through eight tax and millage elections, three strategic plans, design and launch of the School System Web site, and many other projects.

School System communication efforts immediately following Hurricane Katrina were nationally recognized as a key contributor to the successful recovery of the School System. Within days of the storm, she joined others in working out of a makeshift office with few resources and facing considerable difficulties. Still, through dozens of news releases, broadcast interviews, Web site postings, informative posters, and the like, she helped reach thousands of evacuated St. Tammany Parish residents with information on the progress of getting the School System up and running again.

“Throughout my years with the System, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing volumes of good news about our schools and School System, including St. Tammany’s inclusion in a Money Magazine article on the Top 100 school systems in the country, Systemwide SACS/CASI accreditation, numerous awards and citations, and outstanding performance and accountability results,” she commented.

“I came to this School System with a strong conviction about the importance of public education. I leave after 17 years with an even stronger conviction,” she said.

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Teachers Get Inside Look At Michoud Facility


This past summer several School System educators took part in the inaugural session of the Michoud Education Fellow Program, an intensive two-week internship held at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans.

Those participating were Dr. Paulette Perrin, Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist, and teachers Ruth Hill, Monteleone Junior High School; Crystal Drake, St. Tammany Junior High School; Joanne Hobson, Slidell Junior High School; Paul Chandler, Slidell High School, and Deborah Nunez, Covington High School.

Dr. Perrin gave a report on the new program to the School Board recently, saying that the experience far surpassed the group's expectations.

In addition to touring the facility and getting a first-hand look at how important science, math, and literacy are in the daily work of Michoud employees, the teachers met with several NASA space shuttle astronauts: Karen Nyberg, mission specialist; Ken Ham, pilot; Ron Garan, mission specialist; Mark Kelly, commander; and Mike Fossum, mission specialist. 

The internship program is the result of collaboration among St. Tammany Parish Schools, Louisiana State University/Louisiana Space Consortium, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center/Michoud Assembly Facility. The program encourages educators to communicate the information, experiences, and lessons learned to their students during the school year. 

The St. Tammany Parish Public School System was invited to help develop the education program for teachers that could be duplicated with other parishes in southeast Louisiana. Other NASA facilities have similar opportunities for involving educators in facility tours and fellowship programs. 

During the event, educators were welcomed into the Michoud family and even designed their own “mission patch,” which featured a bright orange edge imprinted with their last names and a picture of a rocket, the space shuttle and the “lamp of learning” symbol in the inner blue circle. At the bottom of the inaugural patch was the St. Tammany Parish Public Schools logo and the names of the other participating institutions, NASA, LSU, and the Louisiana Space Consortium.

Commenting about their experience, Ms. Drake said, "The two weeks touring the Michoud facility and speaking with actual engineers and scientists was an eye-opening experience.” While at Michoud, she received numerous posters, books, pins, and other resources to bring back to her classroom to help engage her students in related lesson work.

“I am grateful to NASA, LSU, LaSpace, and the School Board for giving me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of the space program,” she said.

Dr. Perrin said the program offers a working model of what educators want their students to be able to do in a real world setting. “Teachers seldom have the opportunity to study the final product of education, the workplace,“ she said. “We saw in action the skills we want our graduates to take with them when they leave our School System.”

Program participants observed the assembly process for building Shuttle external fuel tanks, met with the engineering groups working for Lockheed who design and analyze the fuel tanks, and toured the materials labs where components are tested, evaluated and adjusted.

Michoud is managed by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and manufactures and assembles large aerospace systems and structures, including launch vehicles and space shuttle external fuel tanks in its 43-acre building in New Orleans East. Overall, the facility encompasses 832 acres with 900,000 square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of warehouse space, and 2.2 million square feet of manufacturing space.

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Schedule Revised For Open House Events


Public schools throughout St. Tammany Parish have scheduled their Open House events for 2008-2009, 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.

Revisions were made to the original schedule due to cancellations caused by Hurricane Gustav.

“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. 


Opening Day of School Goes Well


The day August 8, 2008, was a good day for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System as teachers and school administrators welcomed students back to school from their summer break. Students spent the day getting acquainted with new schools, reuniting with friends, and meeting new teachers.

Months of preparations paid off, according to School officials who say that school operations went very smoothly. Parents expressed particular satisfaction with efforts made this year to expand communication about school bus transportation routes and driver contact information.“We appreciate the way everyone worked together to make this first day of school a great success,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan. “We look forward to a great year.”

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will be screened between August 8 and August 14, and those classes will start full-time on August 19.


Northshore School of the Arts Offers Learning Opportunities


The St. Tammany Parish Public School System and the Northshore School of the Arts (NSA) of Southeastern Louisiana University are continuing to work together to provide additional opportunities for high school students who want to take part in university-level advanced arts studies.

Students participating in the program are able to receive advanced instruction in the performing and visual arts while still attending public high school in St. Tammany Parish.  Students earn college credits in the program, and, if desired, they can advance in their pursuit of a degree in the arts when they graduate high school.

The Northshore School of the Arts aims to help high school juniors and seniors who are committed to the arts make a smoother transition to college as well as earn credit for courses in basic drawing, theatre, music theory, and applied music. Participants attend evening classes at Southeastern Louisiana University, either at the Hammond campus or St. Tammany area SLU Center for hands-on instruction in college-level courses.

The NSA seeks to bring to life the talents of our “artists of the future,” whose creative abilities in music, visual arts, and theatre are nurtured, inspired, and guided by experienced Southeastern faculty and staff, according to Charlotte Collins, the program’s first permanent director. The NSA has portfolio, interview, or audition entrance requirements and is offered to high school juniors and seniors only.

Classes are designed to reinforce instruction available in the public schools.

Application deadline for the Fall Semester is August 15, 2008.

CLICK HERE for course and contact information and for an application to enroll in the Northshore School of the Arts. Please click on the Subscribe button to get updates on the growing list of opportunities available through the NSA.

For current course offerings and tuition/fee information, please visit the NSA Web site at http://www.selu.edu/nsa or contact:

Charlotte Collins, Director
SLU Box 10388
Magee Hall, Room 206
Hammond, LA 70402
 985-549-2568 and 985-549-5014 (fax)


Superintendent Presents 2008-2009 Proposed Budget


The proposed Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Budget for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System has been presented by Superintendent Gayle Sloan to the St. Tammany Parish School Board for its consideration for adoption in September.

The Superintendent presented her recommended budget at the August 7, 2008, Committee As A Whole meeting. A public hearing on the budget was held August 21. Consideration of adoption is expected to be at the Thursday, September 11, board meeting. Click here to view the proposed budget in an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.


Summer Video Institute Trains Students In TV Production


Fifteen high school students from the St. Tammany Parish Public School System took part in an intensive one-week Summer Video Institute recently, learning video production techniques from shooting raw footage and standup commentary in the field to final editing procedures in the studio.

The seventh annual summer video program brought outstanding broadcast journalism students together with the experienced staff members of Channel 13, the School Board’s educational cable television channel. Each staff member led a class of four students as they created a video documentary from beginning to end. The institute included instruction on how to best tell a story employing camera handling techniques, lighting and music overlays.

A video festival held on the final day of the institute premiered the finished videos. One showcased the Abita Springs Opry; another the thoroughbred horse training industry; another the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum; and, the fourth, a video overview of safe boating tips for teenagers. A fifth video  produced by Channel 13 intern Chris Hewitt featured behind-the-scenes clips from all four.

The student-produced videos will be broadcast on Channel 13.

Melody Swang, Director of Broadcasting for the School System, said, “We had a wonderful week; and, I must say, this has been the best institute we’ve had yet. The students came to us with some valuable experience from their school broadcasting programs and worked really hard for us.”

Instructors agreed that the “kids were awesome” and they were proud of what they had accomplished. The institute is a learning experience also for some the instructors, who came from television news production and were new to the idea of educating teenagers about their craft.

Learning the basics of camera work, editing, and post production, the students came with a wide range of experience. Most of them are interested in professional broadcast journalism careers, so the institute is a extra boost to their education.

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Mandeville High School Teacher Named State Teacher of the Year


Mandeville High School teacher Deborah Tonguis was named the 2009 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year recently at the Second Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration in Baton Rouge. 

“When I began the Teacher-of-the-Year process, I really just wanted to be the best ambassador for all of the teachers on my campus at Mandeville High School, and I really wanted to make St. Tammany Parish shine brightly,” said Ms. Tonguis. “Winning this award was a culmination of 27 years of teaching and I feel so respected and honored.”

At the end of last school year, Ms. Tonguis was named Mandeville High School Teacher of the Year. She later was selected the School System Teacher of the Year for the high school division and advanced to the regional and state competitions, where she took the top honors.The Louisiana Teacher of the Year Program, co-sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, is an annual event designed to recognize and honor outstanding elementary, middle and high school teachers from school systems throughout the state. The state level competition includes 24 candidates from across the state.

A State Selection Committee selects a winner at the elementary, middle/junior high and high school levels, in addition to the Louisiana Teacher of the Year.  The applicant with the highest overall score among 24 candidates from across the state is selected Teacher of the Year. “We are pleased to share in the excitement with Ms. Tonguis,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan. “We are proud that one of the many outstanding teachers in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System has received such a prestigious award. We congratulate her for receiving this honor.”

Candidates for the award are required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, have demonstrated competency in the subjects that he or she teaches and be a fully certified, exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled classroom teacher in any state-approved or accredited public school. Selection is based on how well teachers meet program criteria of: inspiring students of diverse backgrounds and abilities to learn; having respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues; playing an active and useful role in the community and school; being articulate and enthusiastic; exhibiting knowledge of education policy; writing knowledgeably about education; and affiliation with professional education organizations.

Mandeville High School Principal Bruce Bundy said, “She is a fantastic teacher. She prepares kids to be successful in the education arena, not just in her classroom.”Tonguis has 27 years teaching experience, including 16 years in higher education and 11 years in St. Tammany Parish. According to Mr. Bundy, in addition to teaching World Geography and Psychology, she serves as the Social Studies Department Chairman, Freshman Coordinator, Tri Theta Sponsor and a LaTAAP Mentor. “She is involved in mentoring students and helping them along,” said Mr. Bundy. “She really cares about kids and likes to help mold their character.”

In addition to the title of  2009 State Teacher of the Year, Ms. Tonguis received a new Mercedes Benz to drive for a year, two complimentary airline tickets to fly anywhere in the continental United States, a free rental car for four days and jewelry. In addition to these prizes, she also won supplies for her classroom, including a laptop computer; ACTIVboard from Promethean, Inc; a $500 gift certificate from Dream Teachers, L.L.C., and a $100 gift certificate from Apple Education for Apple products.

“I love teaching because it’s who I am. I have discovered that teaching is my purpose,” said Ms. Tonguis. “Every interaction I have with my students gives me an opportunity to become a better person. They give back more than I ever give to them.”

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School Board Signals Acceptance of Millage Rollback From Property Reassessment


The St. Tammany Parish School Board announced intentions to forgo advertising a public meeting to consider rolling forward millage rates, signaling the Board will accept the rolled-back millage rate for ad valorem tax revenue for the coming year.

The millage rollback means taxpayers will not have an increase in taxes dedicated to the School Board this year, despite an anticipated increase in property valuations from the 2008 reassessment of property by the parish tax assessor. According to School System Superintendent Gayle Sloan, the decision is to hold revenue collections stable and review the impact of the millage reduction during the next fiscal year.

“We find ourselves in a better financial situation following this reassessment period than after the 2004 reassessment, largely as a result of controls on employee health care expenses, energy consumption, and other belt-tightening measures,” Superintendent Sloan said.   
Speaking on behalf of the School Board, Board President Neal Hennegan said, “The School Board works hard to keep the School System fiscally sound and responsible, and we want to weigh revenue matters carefully. Board members understand that all of us are facing rapid increases in the cost of living right now, and the entire Board agrees that we would like to take more time to look at the financial impact of the rollback, review School System needs, and allow time for public input before considering any future discussion of millage rates.”
The measure was unanimously approved at the School Board meeting on July 17.  
State law requires that millages be adjusted to a revenue-neutral level after every reassessment. The rollback following the 2008 reassessment of property is intended to maintain the same level of revenue collections regardless of the expected increase in property values. Local taxing entities have the option to either accept the rolled-back millage rate for the coming year or advertise plans to consider an upward adjustment in millages based upon needs. 


Channel 13 Wins Top Press Club Awards


Two first place New Orleans Press Club awards were presented July 19 to the director and staff of Channel 13, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System educational television station.

Melody Swang, Director of Broadcasting for the School System, said her group was honored to win the nominations several weeks ago. “We were in competition with all the New Orleans broadcast stations, so it was quite a moment when we won top honors,” Mrs. Swang said.

Channel 13 won first place in the Public Affairs category for its documentary “Teen Focus on Safe Driving: Survivor” produced by Mrs. Swang, John Harrison and Trevor Cassidy and a first place award in the Sports Action Photo Category for a video produced by staff member David Williams featuring Slidell High School football star Matt Forte’. The group also won an “honorable mention” for its video on Dr. Margo Guilott’s retirement.

Mrs. Swang said she was especially pleased that Trevor Cassidy, a student intern at Channel 13 before he graduated, was able to join the group at the awards presentation for his contribution to the graphics on the “Teen Focus” documentary. “The recognition will present future Channel 13 student interns a real challenge,” Mrs. Swang said. “But they will see that hard work can earn them New Orleans Press Club honors, just as it did Trevor.”

Superintendent Gayle Sloan said, “Channel 13 has always been a great communications tool for our School System, and receiving first place awards from the New Orleans Press Club proves its professionalism and effectiveness. We congratulate the whole team -- staff, student interns and Director Melody Swang -- on their wonderful accomplishment.”

All the videos competing in the awards program were judged by other Press Clubs from throughout the nation.

The crew at Channel 13 were competing in the Press Club’s regular television media categories, not in a special educational channel category, so the awards meant even more to Mrs. Swang and her personnel. “This was a wonderful highlight in our careers,” she said. “I am so proud of my staff.”


School System Unveils Preservation Plaza Plans


St. Tammany Parish School System officials recently unveiled plans for a Preservation Plaza, part of a Systemwide project to preserve the history of the schools and System.  The project is designed to serve as a lasting memorial to retired employees from the School System.

“This is a memorial through which we can pay homage to our employees who established a strong foundation for our School System and who helped to make our System what it is today,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan.

The Preservation Plaza is planned for the Jefferson Avenue side of the C.  J. Schoen Administrative Complex.  Architectural concepts of the Plaza, provided by Fauntleroy and Latham Architects, A.P.C., include sculptures, benches and walkways made of inscribed bricks honoring the service of employees who retired from the System.  “This would be a complementary outdoor feature that we think would be a tremendous asset to the Jefferson side of the building” said Kieran Weldon, Executive Vice President of Fauntleroy and Latham Architects, A.P.C. 

The Plaza will incorporate the existing flagpole, walkways, and landscaping into the design.  The first in a series of phases includes the construction of a 32’ diameter circular plaza made of inscribed pavers. 
With the basic concept in place, the System is now accepting donations from individuals, organizations and private businesses for sculptures, benches and other Plaza features and for personalized bricks.  The bricks are available now for $75.  Proceeds from brick sales will fund the majority of the project.
 “The bricks offer an opportunity for former employees to preserve the memory of their service or for others to honor a former teacher, friend, colleague or loved one,” said Superintendent Sloan.  Bricks may be purchased in the name of any individual who retired from the St. Tammany Parish Public School System or who passed away while in service. Bricks will be inscribed with the employee’s name, position, and starting and ending dates of service. 
Businesses and individuals also may contribute to the Plaza either through donations for sculptures and other special features to be placed throughout the Plaza or through general donations to the Preservation Plaza Fund.  Local professionals who have committed to volunteering their services to the project include Fauntleroy and Latham Architects, A.P.C.; Creative Engineering Group; Kyle Associates, L.L.C.; Schrenk and Peterson Consulting Engineers, Inc. and J. V. Burkes Associates, Inc.

 “We want to focus on preserving the history of our schools and School System,” said Mrs. Sloan.   “We think this is something that could be a lasting memorial and would be an important part of the ongoing preservation project for our School System.”
All donors and retirees who have a brick dedicated to them will be listed on the System Web site.  Those interested in donating to the Preservation Plaza or requesting more information are asked to call (985) 898-3254.



Registration Underway For 2008-2009 Session


St. Tammany Parish Public School officials have announced the schedule and requirements for registering students entering Public Schools for the first time next month. Registration will be held at the schools the students will attend.

A list of schools and the dates each will register new students is available by clicking here.  The free software program Adobe Acrobat Reader is required for reading the document linked above. To obtain the software, click here.


Mandeville High School Wins Award For Advanced Placement Program


The Advanced Placement program at Mandeville High School recently won a Siemens Foundation award for providing enhanced learning opportunities in science, technology, and mathematics. Richard Burvant, General Manager of Siemens Building Technologies, New Orleans branch, presented the award to Principal Bruce Bundy at a recent School Board meeting.

Mr. Burvant said that recognizing educational excellence has always been a priority at Siemens. “If we are going to continue to create cutting-edge innovations and high-paying jobs, then it is important to honor teachers instrumental in student achievement and schools such as Mandeville High School for educating the next generation of scientists who will advance tomorrow’s technology.” He singled out Advance Placement courses as a major contributor to that goal.

Mr. Bundy expressed his appreciation for the recognition. “The Advanced Placement program is a great opportunity for many of our college-bound students,” he said.

St. Tammany Parish high school students seeking to earn college credit prior to graduating from high school may do so by taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses available in a variety of subject areas.

Senior Supervisor of Instruction Denise Parker Barnes said the AP program, a part of the St. Tammany Parish School System for many years, helps students get a head start on college by offering a wide selection of courses, both in the core curriculum and electives, including foreign languages.

By taking the AP courses and passing the College Board exams with a three point or higher grade in the class, students earn college credits, giving them a jump start on college work and saving some tuition costs.

“It’s an opportunity for students to do college level work while in high school,” Mrs. Barnes said. 

The Siemens Foundation awards program, now in its tenth year, is conducted in partnership with the College Board. The honor was accompanied by a $1,000 grant to Mandeville High School. Only one school per state receives the award each year. 


Energy Conservation Program Saves School System Money


A new in-house program to conserve energy and save the School System money through energy management has achieved a 15 percent reduction in energy usage over the past 29 months, resulting in a cost avoidance of $2.2 million.

Administrative Supervisor Dr. John Swang, director of the energy management program, told the School Board at its recent meeting that employees are now routinely doing the things necessary to reduce energy usage. “It isn’t easy going green,” he said. “It requires all of us to think and behave differently at home and at work.”

He found School System employees willing and ready to do what they could to better manage the energy their schools use. The initial goal of 10 percent savings has been met, and the total energy cost savings now reaches 14.7 percent over the baseline School Year of 2004-2005.

The program involves administrators, staff, teachers, and students, motivating them to take actions such as adjusting thermostats to efficient levels and turning lights and computers off whenever possible. Dr. Swang said that maintenance mechanics who work on the air conditioning and heating systems have been key players in the savings, and building custodians have been especially helpful.

The installation of automated systems that give administrators greater insight and control over electrical use in their schools has resulted in considerable energy savings, from 6.4 percent to 30 percent at one school alone. Thirty-one schools are now being monitored using the multi-site Energy Optimization NOVAR control system, and administrators can control thermostats and oversee air conditioning and lighting usage via an internet connection. In the coming year, NOVAR systems are being scheduled for installation at additional schools.

Changing from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent also is part of the conservation program, and curriculum instruction programs are being implemented from Kindergarten through 12th grade to begin introducing students to the importance of saving energy.

“As an incentive to save energy, we told the principals that we would take a look at using part of the savings to increase their operational budgets,” said Gayle Sloan, Superintendent. “Last year we were able to do that, giving the schools an additional $10 per child for such items as copy machines, supplies, and equipment for the classroom.”

Dr. Swang said the School System is also monitoring energy bills for errors and tax charges which can save additional thousands of dollars.

The St. Tammany Parish Public School System was the first school district in the state to enter into the Energy Star Partnership, an Environmental Protection Agency Program.  The EPA recognizes some partnership participants with Energy Star Leaders Awards, and Dr. Swang is waiting to hear if the School System won an award for saving over 10 percent in energy costs over the past three years.

According to Dr. Swang, the EPA program considers anything more than10 percent drop in energy costs an indication of “superior management and environmental leadership.”



School System Bond Rating Upgraded


The bond rating for the St. Tammany Parish School System recently was upgraded by Standard and Poor’s from an AA- rating to an AA rating, the highest rating given any School Board in the state.
According to Standard and Poor’s primary credit analyst, the rating was upgraded based on a number of factors, including the School System’s strong financial performance, large and diverse property tax base, very strong financial operations and general fund position, and low overall net debt burden.
St. Tammany Parish taxpayers have saved millions of dollars in interest costs on bonds because of the high credit rating of the School Board, said Bond Attorney Grant Schlueter of Foley & Judell at a recent School Board meeting. “The high bond ratings means the St. Tammany Parish School Board can attract lenders offering lower interest rates when the School System issues general obligation bonds,” he explained. “The lower rates of interest result in substantial savings on property taxes in retiring debt.”
“The latest upgrade in our bond rating is a strong endorsement of the fiscal responsibility exercised by the School Board and System administration,” said Superintendent Gayle Sloan. “We are gratified by this show of confidence by Standard & Poor’s and by the support our community consistently provides. Local support is a major contributor to a strong bond rating.”


Bid For $67 Million Bond Sale Approved


 The St. Tammany Parish School Board opened bids June 12 for the purchase of $67 million worth of general obligation bonds to construct new schools and install new technology in schools throughout the Parish. Sale of these bonds will be the first series of bonds to be issued from the $150 million bond issue authorized by voters in March.

Four bids were received, and BB&T Capital Markets submitted the low bid at an interest rate of 4.401 percent. The School Board adopted a resolution accepting the low bid and voted to authorize the incurring of the debt and issuance of the $67 million in bonds. 

School Board bond attorney Grant Schlueter of Foley & Judell firm told the Board the bid prices were in line with what they were expecting. “We have been watching rates increase over the past few months as inflationary rates are fueled by gas price increases, and I am comfortable with these bids,” he said.

 Schlueter told the Board that holding a special board meeting at 11 a.m. to open bids was an incentive for the bond markets to submit bids electronically, resulting in more bids than usual being submitted.

 “Your high bond rating is reflective in the bids submitted,” he said, noting that the School System rating had just been upgraded by Standard and Poor’s from an AA- rating to an AA rating


Assistant Principals Appointed


Nine  assistant principals were appointed by the St. Tammany Parish School Board at its regular June meeting, and five of those were assigned to the Parishwide Assistant Principal pool to serve where needed during the upcoming school year.
Diane Combs was appointed assistant principal at Abney Elementary School. She taught pre-school classes and kindergarten in Jefferson Parish from 1985 to 1993 and transitional first grade and first grade at Whispering Forest Elementary from 1993 to 2006. For the past two years, she has been a part of the Parishwide Assistant Principal group.

Daphne Yolanda Lowe will serve as assistant principal at Chahta-Ima Elementary School and Bayou Lacombe Middle School. She began her teaching career at Poindexter Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1995, taught second grade at Gaston Point Elementary in Gulfport, Mississippi, from 1997 to 2000, and most recently taught eighth grade reading at Biloxi Junior High School. She was an Adjunct Development Reading Instructor at Delgado Community College in Covington in the fall semesters of 2004 and 2005.

Lelia Parker was appointed assistant principal at Folsom Elementary School, coming from the Parishwide Assistant Principals group. Her educational career started at Covington Special Education School in 1979, and between 1979 and 1981, she taught fourth grade at Sixth Ward Junior High School. She worked in the Bogalusa School System between 1981 and 2005, and moved to Lyon Elementary School to teach second grade 2005 to 2007.

Sarah Revere, another Parishwide Assistant Principal, was named assistant principal at Folsom Junior High School. She joined the School System in 1998, teaching fifth grade at Mandeville Middle School until 2001, when she began teaching sixth grade at Lake Harbor Middle School. From 2002 to 2007, she taught computer education and fifth grade at Pine View Middle School, after which she joined the Parishwide Assistant Principals program.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan commented that, with so many of the new appointments being made from the Parishwide Assistant Principal pool, “the cupboard is bare.” So five new appointments were made to that group to replenish it.

Robert DeRoche, Linda Fussell, Chantelle O’Meallie, Edward Strohmeyer, and Kelley Welch were named to the Parishwide Assistant Principals group.

Robert DeRoche, an administrative assistant at Fontainebleau High School, began teaching in 1992, and joined the Fontainebleau High School faculty in 2005.

Linda Fussell, who has served as the Professional Development Coordinator at Covington High School since 2006, began teaching mathematics at Pitcher Junior High in 1987 and in 1991 moved to the Covington High mathematics department.

Chantelle O’Meallie began teaching first grade in Hammond, and joined the faculty at Woodlake Elementary School in 2002 as a first and second grade teacher.

Edward Strohmeyer has served as Resource Helping Teacher at Abita Springs Middle School since 2006. He began teaching at Abita Springs Elementary in 1995, moved to Abita Springs Junior High the following year, and taught sixth grade at Abita Springs Middle School from 1996 through 2006.

Kelley Welch began teaching at C. J. Schoen Middle School in 1999, joined the Brock Elementary School faculty in 1999, and became an Early Intervention Facilitator for the School System in 2006.


Community Unites To Build Playground at Lacombe School


A large group of community, parent, and faculty volunteers, including members of the National Guard and AmeriCorps, recently came together to build a custom-designed  play structure on the playground at Bayou Lacombe Middle School.

The program was coordinated by KaBoom!, a national non-profit organization that has a goal of building a playground within walking distance of every child in America. Fannie Mae, a publicly-owned secondary mortgage company, also played a substantial role in making the playground additions a reality.

Patrick Woods, Bayou Lacombe Middle School Principal, said the new play structure will stand as a shining example of what people can do when they all come together. “I thank all of the parents and community partners who volunteered and donated to the project,” he said.

The design of the playground is based on drawings provided by students who attended a “design day” activity in the school library in March. The design features “rock” climbing walls, ladders, bridges, tunnels, and slides.

Playground construction started at 11:00 a. m. and ended at 1:30 p. m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 2:00 p. m., with School Board Member Sorola “Jody” Palmer and St. Tammany Parish Council Member Al Hamauei on hand for the event.

The playground additions include wood planters, an outdoor classroom with benches and chalkboard, and a raised wooden platform for performances. Work crews stayed busy spreading mulch, tightening the bolts, mixing cement in wheelbarrows, and painting the states different colors on a map of the United States, which was painted on the sidewalk outside the gymnasium.

Mr. Woods specifically thanked Beth Bergere of Fannie Mae, Nate Rosenthall of KaBoom, faculty members Ann James, Sara Hughes and Ellie Schroder, and Cafeteria Manager Nona Navarre, in addition to all other staff members and parents who took part in the effort. “This is a great day for the Lacombe community,” Woods stated, “So let the play begin!”

The playground is the 95th built as a part of Operation Playground, the KaBOOM! initiative to build 100 playgrounds in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Photo of workers spreading mulch around playground.


School Board Appoints New Principals, Assistant Principals


At its recent meeting, the School Board approved the appointments of two principals and eight assistant principals to fill vacancies arising at the end of the school year.

Robert M. Alford was appointed Principal at Abney Elementary School, replacing Supervisor of Technology Julie Matte, who was serving in the post temporarily.
Mr. Alford has been an IEP Facilitator in the Special Education Department for the past five years.  He began his career in education as a paraprofessional for special education students at Fontainebleau High School in 1997.

Named Principal at Folsom Elementary School was Lesa H. Bodnar, who has served as Assistant Principal on the campus for the past year. She began teaching at Lyon Elementary School in Covington in 1996. She replaces Aimee Woessner, who recently was appointed a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction.

Harry Dixon, III, will be a new Assistant Principal at Northshore High School. Mr. Dixon formerly was Assistant Principal at Frederick Douglass High School in New Orleans. He will fill the position left vacant by the retirement of Thelma Torregano.

Appointed temporary Assistant Principal at Mandeville Elementary School was Judith Hankel, who will be serving in the post while Assistant Principal Casey Gleason is on leave next year. Ms. Hankel has taught second grade at the school since 1994.

Terrie Jackson Mathison, a Parishwide Assistant Principal this year, was named Assistant Principal at Boyet Junior High. She is filling the position of former Assistant Principal Charles Edwards, who was named Coordinator of Broadcasting for the School System’s educational Channel 13. Ms. Mathison has taught biology, chemistry and life science in St. Tammany public schools for 24 years.

Shelly Nuccio Morris was approved as Assistant Principal for Lee Road Junior High School, after serving as temporary Assistant Principal at the school for the past year. She began teaching mathematics in 1995. In her new post, she will replace Jerry Mendow, who has been named a Coordinator in the Special Education Department.

The move from Parishwide Assistant Principal to Assistant Principal at Tchefuncte Middle School was approved for Christopher R. Oufnac, who has 11 years of educational experience. He replaces Assistant Principal Rhonda Chambers who retires this year.

Arlene Sealy was named Assistant Principal at Cypress Cove Elementary School in Slidell, replacing Dr. April Whitfield in that position. Ms. Sealy has served as an IEP Facilitator for the past five years, with a total of 21 years in education overall. In April, Dr. Whitfield was named Principal of the new Little Pearl Elementary School, now under construction in Pearl River.

Appointed Assistant Principal at Sixth Ward Elementary School was G. Rodney Thornhill.  He will fill a new position at the school, which was created based on enrollment increases. For the past 20 years, he has taught the upper grades at Sixth Ward Junior High, the past year serving as a Resource Helping Teacher.

Eddie J. Walker was appointed Assistant Principal at William Pitcher Junior High, replacing Assistant Principal John Nelson, who is returning to teaching. Currently serving as a Parishwide Assistant Principal, Ms. Walker has 22 years of experience in education.

Click Here for photo of new principals. Click Here for photo of new assistant principals for schools on the western side of the parish. Click Here for photo of new assistant principals for schools on the eastern side of the parish.


Schools Earn “First In Math” State Honors in Louisiana


A national mathematics education program recently announced that two St. Tammany Parish Public Schools have earned the title of “First In Math” in Louisiana. Both the Carolyn Park Middle School sixth grade team and the Mandeville Middle School fourth and fifth grade teams have been spotlighted as “number one” in the state.

Carolyn Park Middle School also had the top First In Math student in the state for sixth grade.

Students take part in the Suntex International computer-based competition online after school hours.  The “First in Math” Program is an innovative approach to mathematics education based on a series of games that are geared to help students sharpen basic math skills, such as computational fluency, problem solving, number sense, critical thinking, and pattern sensing.

The program created a great deal of excitement about Math in the schools.

Principal Anthony Esposito of Carolyn Park Middle School said the “First in Math” program ensures student engagement and is an excellent use of technology. “Our entire sixth grade class was involved in the program,” he noted. “Many students gave up their recesses freely to focus on Math skills on the computer, and that showed true commitment to achieve their goals.” 

Awards programs to celebrate the championship teams were held at the schools, and Barbara Asteak, vice president of Suntex International was on hand to help give out prizes to the winning students.

Students participating in the “First In Math” program earn points by solving problems of increasing difficulty, from simple addition to complex algebra.  More than 400 million math problems have been solved by participants across the United States this academic year.

Click here for Mandeville Middle School photo. Click here for Carolyn Park Middle School photo.


Head LSU Football Coach Speaks to School Coaches


High school and junior high school coaches and assistant coaches and their principals recently heard a talk by Head LSU Football Coach Les Miles, at an end-of-year event held at the Instructional Technology Center in Mandeville. Coach Miles was in the area for another event and was able to schedule time to talk to coaches and assistant coaches with the School System. Participants heard personal experiences and coaching tips to help build self-confidence in students that will help them be successful not only in athletic endeavors but throughout their lives. Coach Miles’ visit was made possible by the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF).

According to Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse, “Coach Miles message was at times humorous, direct, and motivational. Our coaches benefitted from the tips of a winning coach whose priorities in his athletic program are hard work and academic achievement.”

For video photo montage, click here.


Outstanding Students and Employees Honored at May Recognition


The School System Recognition Reception held annually to congratulate students and who earned the highest recognition given by the School System during the year was held prior to the May Board meeting. The 2008 Reception brought together employees and students chosen either Principals of the Year, Outstanding School Support Employees, Students of the Year, Substitute Employee of the Year, or Teachers of the Year. Board President Neal Hennegan welcomed honorees and guests to the event held in the Atrium of the C. J. Schoen Administration Complex and congratulated all on their outstanding accomplishments.
Recognized during the event were the following:

Principals of the Year
Melanie Edwards of Magnolia Trace Elementary School (Elementary Division)
Jackie Landry of Slidell Pathways (Middle/Junior High Division)
Chris O’Regan of Operation Jumpstart (High School Division)
Teachers of the Year
Kelly Stomps of Woodlake Elementary School (Elementary Division)
Stephanie Purser of Bonne Ecole Elementary School (Middle/Junior High Division)
Barry Dotson of Fontainebleau High School (High School Division)

Students of the Year
Benjamin M. Stogner of Madisonville Junior High School (Elementary Division)
Milton J. Hernandez, IV, of Monteleone Junior High School (Middle/Junior High Division)
Trigg W. Burrage of Northshore High School (High School Division)
Outstanding School Support Employees of the Year
Victoria Keys, Title I Paraprofessional at Covington Elementary School (Elementary Division)
Kathy Impastato, Paraprofessional at Carolyn Park Middle School (Middle/Junior High Division)
Joan Wallace, School Secretary at Mandeville High School (High School Division)
Lyn Monteleone, School Food Service Secretary at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex (Non-School Division).

Substitute Employee of the Year
Gaye W. Wertz

Click on links below for photographs associated with the event.

School Board President Neal Hennegan Welcomes Guests-

Guests Enjoy Reception-

Annual Recognition Reception Brings Together Honorees-

Honorees Are Recognized-

Principals of the Year are Spotlighted-

Support Employees of the Year Step Forward-

Students of the Year for 2007-2008 Get Winning Reception-

Teachers of the Year Earn Accolades-

Substitute Employee of the Year Is Applauded -



School Is Out for the Summer


After a successful, busy 2007-2008 school year, public schools in St. Tammany Parish are out for the summer. School staffs are finishing final paperwork and preparing to mail out report cards on Saturday, for students in grades 4 through 12. Report cards should arrive at home early next week.

Parents of students and students who will attend summer school are reminded that summer school registration will be May 29 and 30. Summer school registration for grades 9 through 12 is Thursday, May 29, from 8:00 a. m. to noon at either Salmen High School in Slidell or Covington High School.

Summer school registration for first grade through eighth grade will be Friday, May 30, either at St. Tammany Junior High in Slidell or Mandeville Middle School. Last names beginning A through P register from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Last names beginning Q through Z register from 10:00 a.m.

For more information on high school summer school, click here. For more information on elementary summer school, click here.

Best wishes to all students, their families, and school personnel for a safe, relaxing, and enriching summer vacation.

The 2008-2009 School Year begins for students on Friday, August 8.


Substitute Employees in School System Are Honored


Substitute employees recently were honored by the St. Tammany Parish School Board with a proclamation establishing a special day of recognition for them. The “Substitute Employee Appreciation Day,” was declared by Board resolution in April and was designed to show awareness of and appreciation for the many contributions made by substitute teachers, bus drivers, and staff.

These individuals are called upon to come in, often on short notice, to fill in for regular teachers and other employees who are unable to work.

Individual schools observed the day in various ways, from gifts of appreciation for their substitutes to informal receptions and other special recognitions.

The resolution proclaimed the day “to honor those who help maintain continuity of learning and services in the day to day operations of the School System.”

Another way the School System acknowledges the valuable services provided by substitutes is through the Substitute Employee of the Year program, now in its second year. The 2007-2008 Substitute Employee of the Year is Gaye Wertz, who was nominated by Bayou Lacombe Middle School.        

Mrs. Wertz represents the professional capabilities, flexibility, and dedication that substitute employees bring to the job. According to Bayou Lacombe Middle School Principal Patrick Woods,  “Teachers look forward to Ms. Wertz substituting in their classrooms.  Her professionalism is outstanding, and she does an excellent job following the teacher’s lesson plans and maintaining the classroom consistency. She always seeks new ideas in technology, as well as ideas about the integration of the curriculum from other teachers.”

Mrs. Wertz was congratulated at the annual Recognition Reception in the Atrium of the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex May 8 and was also introduced at the Board Meeting that followed the reception.



Outstanding Alumni Are Featured On New Video Series


Video vignettes featuring outstanding alumni of the St. Tammany Parish Public School System are now being produced in a new series of educational broadcast Channel 13 spots.

Among those showcased are Parish President Kevin Davis, U. S. Marine Captain Gerard Fontenot, St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Peter Galvan, La. Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain, and Orchestra Conductor Paul Mauffray.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan is very pleased with the spots. “We are excited about this new series showing the successes achieved by our School System’s graduates. These 30-second videos, made by our crew at Channel 13, will showcase the excellent education these individuals received and the importance of staying in school and working toward a goal.”

The videos spotlight individuals who have succeeded in a variety of endeavors. The video segments show them at work and at the school from which they graduated.

Director of Broadcasting Melody Swang said the public service announcements are being shown on Channel 13 and local cable television channels.  “We hope this series will be an entertaining way to let our community know about the high caliber of our School System alumni,” she said. 

“It can be very encouraging for current students to see real-life examples of how successful one can be following an educational career in the St. Tammany Parish Public Schools,” Mrs. Sloan said.
To view the Webcasts, click here.


Project Graduations Promise Night To Remember


Across St. Tammany Parish, hundreds of high school seniors are taking part in the event of their lives, starting with getting diplomas on stage at graduation and ending with attending an all-night, alcohol-free party with their classmates.

Organizers of the annual “Project Graduation” events are offering a variety of games, entertainment, food, and refreshments to keep high school graduates safe as they celebrate the completion of their high school careers. While graduates are not required to attend, the fun, big ticket prizes, and chance to be with friends after this important milestone in the graduating senior's life are big enticements to attend.

This year’s Project Graduation festivities began May 10 following the Fontainebleau High School ceremony and end May 16 with the Pearl River High School graduation. Northshore High School held its graduation ceremonies on May 10, with Salmen High School graduation holding its event May 12, Mandeville High School graduation was held May 13, Covington High School ceremonies were held May 14, and Slidell High School planned for May 15. For a complete schedule of high school graduations, click here. 

Each school has its own Project Graduation event, but much of the planning and fundraising are shared between the schools. Fontainebleau High and Mandeville High will use Castine Center at Pelican Park, three days apart. Covington High graduates will party at the Greater Covington Center, and the four Slidell area public high schools are holding their Project Graduations on different nights at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium.

Every Project Graduation party has a similar schedule of events: arrival gifts, games, prizes, contests, food, refreshments, fun, more prizes, T-shirts, breakfasts, and parting gifts. Approximately 300 volunteers are needed on the night of the event to make it all happen at the dizzying pace of one major attraction after another.

Eye-catching decorations are a highlight as parents and volunteers try to make it a “night to remember.” Organizers plan ahead carefully for the complicated logistics involved in keeping 500 plus graduates entertained for several hours.

Activities range from music, karaoke, and caricature artists to inflatables, Sumo wrestling suits, and photograph taking. Also on tap at some Project Graduations will be the video presentations of senior year events and DVD videos of graduates’ baby pictures.  Some school Projects offer an Open House preview for parents and friends to see all the attractions that await the graduates. 

Susan Hackney, co-party director for the Fontainebleau High Project Graduation, said the 300 volunteers for the event tend to become one big family. Many return to work the project year after year. In addition, a fresh group of parents helps every year as their seniors line up for the party.

The financing of all the festivities goes on throughout the year, with fund-raising coming from raffles, business contributions, community donations, and the sale of tickets.  “The community is unbelievably generous when we ask for donations to make this all possible,“ said Hackney. “The business people really go over the top for the kids who attend.”

Project Graduation began in the Northeast in 1981 and spread throughout the country as parents realized it was a way to keep graduating high school students off the roads and away from drugs and alcohol after graduation ceremonies ended. The programs have proven effective in bringing down the rate of alcohol-related traffic accidents involving young people on the night of their graduations.

Project Graduation events have been held in St. Tammany Parish for more than 16 years.



Board Adopts Budget Revisions For 2007-2008


The St. Tammany Parish School Board revised budget for 2007-2008 was adopted by the Board at its Thursday, May 8, meeting.  The budget is revised annually to reflect anticipated changes in revenue collections and expenditures during the year.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan presented her recommendations for revisions to the 2007-2008 budget at the recent Committee As A Whole meeting.

The revised budget is available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format by clicking here.


Brooks Curriculum Center Will Be Rebuilt


Plans for rebuilding the Robert C. Brooks, Jr. Educational Complex were accepted by the School Board at the May 8 Board meeting. The initial design by Gasaway/Gasaway/Bankston Architects previously was unveiled in mid-April at a public meeting in Slidell, where citizens took the opportunity to review the plans and make comments.

The new facility will replace the original building that was destroyed by several feet of storm surge from Hurricane Katrina. Formerly the Slidell Curriculum Center, the name of the facility was changed in 2004 to honor Robert C. Brooks, Jr., former principal of St. Tammany Training Center, which was originally located on the site. The complex will house Slidell Pathways and classrooms for Community Education classes and professional development sessions.

At a Committee As A Whole meeting in early May, Deputy Superintendent Trey Folse informed the Board that the plans had been well-received by all those who attended the public meeting in April. Mr. Brooks was told of the rebuilding plans by his daughter, Dr. June Paul. Professor Brooks passed away the day before the committee as a whole meeting at the age of 104, and Mr. Folse noted that the new complex truly will honor his memory and years of service of a pioneer educator in the School System.

At the May 8 meeting, the School Board passed a resolution expressing its appreciation for the many years of dedicated service given by Professor Brooks. The Board also approved changing the name of the complex from the Robert C. Brooks, Jr. Curriculum Center to the Robert C. Brooks, Jr. Educational Complex when the new facility is completed.

Appearing before the Committee As A Whole meeting, Architects Andrew Gasaway and Chris Bankston explained how the layout of the buildings would accommodate a multitude of uses, also noting the innovative energy-saving features of the design. Construction Supervisor Cameron Tipton said the windows will be resistant to hurricane-force winds, and the structure will be built 11 feet above sea level, six feet off the ground on piers.

Located on Sgt. Alfred Drive between Cleveland and Daney Streets, the new complex will feature two separate buildings that, in addition to Pathways, Community Education classrooms, and staff professional development classrooms, will offer space for the Talented Art program and a Board meeting room.

A 27,293 square-foot building will have 18 classrooms and a multipurpose room with a basketball practice court, plus an outdoor walking track and basketball playing area. A 33-space parking lot and a separate bus/car passenger loading lane with covered walkway also are planned.

The second building will have 10,288 square feet and contain two classrooms, offices, and rest rooms, as well as a meeting area and lobby. It will house the Adult Education Program, the Slidell School Board Meeting Room, a conference room, and a training room.

The plans are expected to be finished by the end of summer, the architects said, and the project will go out for bid possibly in the fall. The 37,600-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in 2010, with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

View File (jpg)


Computer Classes For Persons 50 and Older Are Offered Again


The St. Tammany Parish Public School System will hold computer classes at Folsom Junior High School in May, expanding the “Learning to Last a Lifetime” Community Outreach Program that began in Mandeville earlier this year.  The classes will be held May 21, 22, 27 and 28, 2008, from 5:00 p. m. until 7:00 p. m., for St. Tammany Parish residents aged 50 and above. The classes are free of charge.

The educational outreach helps persons 50 years of age and older use new technology more effectively, and provides instruction for learning or enhancing basic computer skills. The sessions instruct class members on how to use computers, Internet search, Email and digital cameras. The Mandeville area classes were well-received, and attracted a large number of participants.

For additional information or to reserve a space in a class, contact the St. Tammany Parish Public Schools Technology Center at (985) 674-3534.


Fontainebleau High School Band Participates in National Jazz Band Workshop


The Fontainebleau High School Jazz Ensemble One placed fourth in the Swing Central National Jazz Band Workshop and Competition in Savannah, Georgia, recently.

The group was one of twelve bands from throughout the country to perform at the event. The festival provided three days of intense jazz workshops for the young musicians, giving them an opportunity to participate in competitive performances as well as perform before the public at the Savannah Civic Center and at Savannah’s City Market.

“Our students did an incredible job representing our school and district,” said Lee Hicks, Jr., Director of Bands at Fontainebleau High. “During our outdoor concert, people were walking out of their businesses to hear us perform and people walking by stopped what they were doing to listen. It was fantastic.”  Hicks said that even one of the judges stood up to applaud them after their competition performance.

At the festival, the young musicians took part in jazz clinics and performances by several well-known jazz musicians and instructors. To help prepare them for the experience, jazz musician Stanton Moore visited with the students at the school in March to hear them perform and offer suggestions for improvement.

“We are certainly proud to be achieving such success and national recognition, and we look forward to working on improving our program to the levels of musicianship of these other outstanding programs,” Hicks said. “It was an incredible experience, and we definitely are going to try to improve our ensemble to take part again next year, and place even better.”


Schools Congratulated For Receiving Accountability Rewards


Twenty schools in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System recently received checks ranging from $16,550 to $51,138 from State funds allocated to schools as a reward for growth in academic achievement.

The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education provides the money through its Accountability Rewards program for schools, kindergarten through 12th grade. The total amount of money coming to public schools in St. Tammany was $476,625 this year.

The K-12 Accountability Reward funds are allocated to schools that meet or surpass their academic growth target, according to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Cheryl Arabie. Schools that achieved exemplary academic growth received a base allocation of $5,000 plus a per pupil amount of $31.61. Schools that attained a recognized academic growth received a base allocation of $2000 and a per pupil amount of $21.13. Funds may be used by the schools for a variety of purposes, with some limitations.

Schools that received a growth label of “Exemplary Academic Growth” and the reward amount they received were as follows:

Abita Springs Elementary School, $24,998; Chahta-Ima Elementary School, $14,191; Covington Elementary School, $19,642; Creekside Junior High School, $23,667; Lyon Elementary School, $20,213; Fontainebleau Junior High School, $30,608; Monteleone Junior High School, $17,550; Madisonville Junior High School, $24,238; Pontchartrain Elementary School, $31,432; Whispering Forest Elementary School, $19,959; Pitcher Junior High School, $15,173; and Woodlake Elementary School, $25,854.

Schools with “Recognized Academic Growth” and the reward amount they received were as follows:

Boyet Junior High School, $17,184; Covington High School, $34,489; Cypress Cove Elementary School, $16,762; Fontainebleau High School, $51,138; Honey Island Elementary School, $16,550; Magnolia Trace Elementary School, $20,290; Northshore High School, $34,848; and Pearl River High School, $17,839.

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Winner and Finalist of Superintendent’s Outstanding Character and Citizenship Award Are Announced


An abilities awareness program at Mandeville Middle School won top honors and a Folsom Elementary School teacher known for her volunteerism was named finalist in the 2007-2008 Superintendent’s Award for Outstanding Character and Citizenship.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan introduced the winner and finalist at a recent School Board meeting. She announced their selection as outstanding examples of how showing respect to others, being responsible, and displaying qualities of caring, trustworthiness, and decision-making can benefit their schools and their community.

The Abilities Awareness Day program at Mandeville Middle School won the top Superintendent’s Award. School Counselor Judy Meyers and PTA Board Member Janelle Meyers represented the program at the award presentation, with Principal Kim Wood joining in to congratulate them.

The program, first suggested by a PTA member two years ago, strives to teach students about those with impairments so students can be more “open minded” about their abilities and differences.  The activity proved to be such a success the first year that organizers decided to schedule it annually.

Students are encouraged to “think same, not different” when they meet new people. At the Abilities Awareness Day event, students were able to participate in various activities to learn more about how it felt to be someone who has a hearing impairment, visual impairment or other physical disability.

“This character building program truly is having a positive impact on others by teaching and encouraging tolerance,” Mrs. Sloan commented.

Mrs. Judy Meyers thanked Mrs. Sloan and the School Board for their recognition of the program. “I will tell our students of this honor we have received,” she said. “We would like to thank Families Helping Families, Deaf Action, Lighthouse for the Blind and all the people who helped make the program a success.”

Capital One Bank is donating a $1000 prize to the winner of the Superintendent’s Award to help the program continue its positive impact upon the school and community.

Mrs. Mary Byrd, a Folsom Elementary School teacher, was named finalist for the Superintendent’s Award.  Mrs. Byrd has taught in St. Tammany schools for 27 years, and she is known for her caring attitude and always looks for opportunities to help people, Mrs. Sloan said.  Her sign language club helps bridge the communication gap between hearing and non-hearing students, and her uniform closet helps provide items needed by students on a daily basis.

Her kindness and generosity extend far beyond the walls of Folsom Elementary School, Mrs. Sloan added, citing her many community and church volunteer efforts.

The Superintendent’s Award was started several years ago to recognize persons or groups in the School System who serve as outstanding examples of community service and citizenship. Recipients are chosen for modeling and teaching good character traits that help students become valuable members of society. “Through the years, we have recognized very deserving individuals and groups that show the many positive contributions that our students and the System make to the community,” Mrs. Sloan said.

Photograph of Superintendent's Award Winners

Photograph of Superintendent's Award Finalist


College and Career Fair Offers Informational Opportunities for Students


The 2007-2008 College and Career Fair was held April 23 at the Castine Center in Pelican Park near Mandeville. The popular annual event provided 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 gave 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. Over 100 exhibitors visited with students and their parents.


Job Fair for Support Personnel Scheduled April 23


The second "Career Night for Support Personnel"  was held by the St. Tammany Parish Public School System on  April 23 at Northshore High School. A large number of prospective job applicants turned out for the event, according to Pete Jabbia, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources.

The job fair offered information on how to apply for vacancies, what is needed to apply, and notices of job opportunities for bus drivers, custodians, maintenance workers, paraprofessionals, food service workers, and clerical personnel.

The Human Resources Department holds the annual career nights to focus attention on the various support personnel job openings available with the School System. The first annual Career Night for Support Personnel held last year drew a large turnout and successfully filled vacancies in many different areas.


April Whitfield Is Appointed Principal of Early Childhood Center in Pearl River


Dr. April Whitfield, currently Assistant Principal at Cypress Cove Elementary School, has been appointed Principal of the Early Childhood Education Center now under construction in Pearl River. Dr. Whitfield previously served as a first grade teacher at Cypress Cove and Honey Island Elementary Schools. She earned a Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Orleans (UNO), after obtaining a Master’s Degree Plus 30, Master’s of Education Degree, and B. A. Degree in Elementary Education, all from UNO.


Woessner Appointed Elementary Education Supervisor


Amiee Woessner was appointed as Supervisor of Elementary Instruction by the School Board at its recent meeting. She has served as Principal of Folsom Elementary School since 2003. Previously she was Assistant Principal at Madisonville Junior High, Resource Helping Teacher at Fifth Ward Junior High School, and mathematics teacher at Folsom Junior High School. Ms. Woessner earned a B.A. Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and also obtained her Master of Education Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education and Master’s Degree plus 30 from Southeastern Louisiana University. Amiee Woessner, currently Principal at Folsom Elementary School, was appointed a Supervisor of Elementary Instruction in the Curriculum and Instruction Department of the School System.  Mrs. Woessner is filling the position left vacant by Mrs. Cheryl Arabie when Mrs. Arabie was appointed Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.


Slidell Junior High School Wins State Science Olympiad Competition


A 20-member student team from Slidell Junior High School won the state “Science Olympiad” competition at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond recently and will go to Washington, D.C., for the national competition in late May.The group, coached by mathematics teacher Kristen Martin and science teacher Shannon Leger, received the state championship trophy after competing with several Science Olympiad teams from throughout the state, most of them from magnet and charter schools.

The Science Olympiad tests students in a variety of events, judging their skills in everything from ecology and biology to physics and oceanography. Robotics, meteorology, and chemistry also are part of the scheduled competitions, with special emphasis placed on scientific inquiry and experimentation. The Slidell Junior High team won the regional competition in its division in February. “This is only our third year in competition,” said Principal Brennan McCurley.“Our first year we placed second in the state, and the next year, we placed second again.”

He credited the students with outstanding dedication to the competition and the coaches for a thorough job in preparing the participants. “It is truly an amazing accomplishment in the short amount of time that we have taken part in this event,” McCurley stated. “I think this is a huge accomplishment that speaks very well of the education our public school students get here in St. Tammany, and I think this is a very big feather in our cap," said Terri Gowin, a parent of one of the participants.

The mission of the international Science Olympiad is to promote and improve student interest in science and to improve the quality of K-12 science education throughout the Nation. More information about the non-profit organization may be found at www.soinc.org


Replacement of Brooks Curriculum Center Discussed


A public meeting was held on Tuesday, April 15, 2008, at the St. Tammany Junior High School gymnasium, located at 701 Cleveland Avenue in Slidell, to discuss plans and to receive input concerning the replacement of the Robert C. Brooks, Jr. Curriculum Center. 

The facility was destroyed by several feet of storm surge from Hurricane Katrina and the building has been demolished.  The facility provided space for several offices, Adult Education and other special classrooms as well as the Slidell Pathways School. 

Superintendent Gayle Sloan and area Board Members met with the public to  view the initial design concept for the replacement building and to receive input before the plans are finalized. 

The site is the original location of the former St. Tammany Training School, later called St. Tammany High School.  Many Slidell citizens have strong connections to the school and may be interested in learning more about the plans for the continued use of the site.   The new building will continue to bear the name of a St. Tammany Parish pioneer educator, Robert C. Brooks, Jr. 


Board Approves Athletic Facilities For New High School


As progress continues on the construction of the new high school being built on La. Hwy. 1088, bids totalling $11.1 million for construction of school athletic facilities for the school were approved recently.

The School Board awarded the project to Polk Construction Corporation of Columbia, Miss., and work is scheduled to begin on the athletic facilities by early summer.

The facilities will consist of a stadium for football and track, four tennis courts, a football field house, stadium concessions stand and restrooms, as well as a baseball field, softball field, and two practice fields.  The football/track stadium will seat a total of 2900 people in the home and visitor bleachers.  Also in the project will be a baseball and softball field house, a separate concessions stand and press box for baseball and softball games, and parking for persons attending the games.

After an in-depth discussion of pros and cons, the School Board chose to add artificial turf to the main field.  The decision to install artificial turf was based on durability, maintenance, extended use, and safety factors. 

Director of Parish Athletics Larry Favre presented to Board members research gathered by a committee set up to evaluate stadium surfaces.  “An artificial surface will enable us to meet the multi-dimensional needs of our athletic programs, using the field all day, every day,” Favre said. With natural sod surfaces, the main football playing field is often reserved for actual game use to prevent other users during the week from damaging the grass field, he explained.

In addition, the turf will permit increased use of the field for outdoor activities by physical education classes and non-sports related school groups.

The turf is expected to reduce maintenance costs, grass-cutting time, and the amount of equipment needed to maintain the field, when compared to a natural grass surface. The Board will use the new high school athletic facilities as a pilot program for artificial turf surfaces in evaluating the possibility of later converting fields at existing schools.

When completed, the new high school will offer a total of 174,800 square feet of floor space, 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, and the gymnasium will accommodate 1,100 people in the stands. The school is expected to open for the 2009-2010 School Year.


Registration Dates Set For 2008-2009 Kindergarten and First Grade Students


Children entering St. Tammany Parish Public Schools for the first time next year are being registered for Kindergarten and first grade this week.

Spring registration for the 2008-2009 school year will take place at the elementary school the student will attend. Any child born before October 1, 2002, will be eligible for the first grade, and any child born before October 1, 2003, will be eligible for kindergarten.

Students who attended and completed a public school kindergarten during the 2007-2008 school year will not be required to register again for the first grade.

Before enrolling in any first grade of a public school, every child must have completed a full-year public kindergarten or must have satisfactorily passed academic readiness screening administered by the School System.  Students who have completed kindergarten at an accredited private school must furnish proof of attendance.

Hours of registration are from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

On Monday, April 7, 2008, students registered for Covington Elementary, Cypress Cove Elementary, Folsom Elementary, Mandeville Elementary, Riverside Elementary, and Woodlake Elementary.

On Tuesday, April 8, 2008, registration is being held at Abney Elementary, Bonne Ecole Elementary, Fifth Ward Junior High, Lee Road Junior High, Magnolia Trace Elementary, and Sixth Ward Elementary.

On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, students may be registered at Abita Springs Elementary, Alton Elementary, Bayou Woods Elementary, Brock Elementary, Chahta-Ima Elementary, Florida Avenue Elementary, Lyon Elementary, Madisonville Elementary, Pontchartrain Elementary, and Whispering Forest Elementary.

Requirements for Registration
The following items are required for student registration: a State Certified Birth Certificate; a  Health Record of Required Immunization;  Proof of Residency; a  Social Security Card; and Custody Papers (if applicable). More information on these items follows.

State Certified Birth Certificate.   Those who do not have a birth certificate may contact a St. Tammany Parish School Board Annex in their area for information on how to obtain one.  Contact the Covington Annex at 985-898-3370 or the Slidell Annex at 985-646-4917.
Health Record.  State Law requires that all children attending school in the State of Louisiana have the following immunizations.  This requirement includes students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.  Included are students who are coming into the St. Tammany Parish Public School System from another parish, state or nonpublic school.

  1. DTP  (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis or Whooping Cough) - A minimum of four (4) doses is required.  The last DTP or a booster is to be given after the  fourth birthday.     
  2. Polio -  A minimum of three (3) doses is required.  The last polio or booster is to be given after the fourth birthday.
  3. MMR  (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) -  One (1) dose is required at twelve to fifteen months of age.  A second MMR is required before entry to school.
  4. Hepatitis B - Three (3) doses are required for first time enrollees into Louisiana public schools.
  5. HIB - Four (4) doses or proof of at least one dose after fifteen (15) months of age are required for pre-kindergarten and noncategorical students to enter school.
  6. Varicella (Chickenpox) - One (1) dose or a history of the disease is required for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

Dates of the above required immunizations must be recorded on an official immunization form and presented to the school at the time of registration.  Contact the Slidell Health Unit at (985) 646-6445, the Covington Community Wellness Center at (985) 871-6030 or the Greater New Orleans (GNO) Immunization Network Mobile Unit at (504) 733-3268 for immunization information.

The immunization policy of the St. Tammany Parish School Board dictates that no child be allowed to enter school without proof of immunizations.

Proof of residency.   Proof of residency must be established using at least three of the documents listed below.  Documents that are suspect or inconclusive may be disallowed and additional documentation may be required.  All documents must be the most current available. Documentation may consist of a current utility bill (such as butane, electric, gas, water, cable or satellite communication bill), the current year W-2 form, the most recent federal or state income tax returns, a state ID card, a vehicle insurance print-out from the parent’s or guardian’s insurance company, a signed residential building contractor agreement, a signed real estate lease agreement or signed mortgage loan documentation.  All documents must show the name of the parent or guardian, the utility service address (if using utility bills) and the street or road address of residence.  Lease agreements must show street or road location and must be from a real estate office, apartment complex or mobile home property, not from an individual.

U.  S. Post Office box numbers, printed checks or drivers’ licenses are NOT considered proof of residency.

Social Security Card.  The Social Security number serves as the student identification number on all records.  The Social Security number written on a piece of paper cannot be accepted.  Custody Papers.  Parents or guardians granted custodial rights of a student must present at registration the custody papers granted through a court system.

Pre-Kindergarten Registration

Pre-kindergarten classes are being offered at 20 schools during the 2008-2009 school year for four-year-old children who meet program criteria.  Registration for pre-kindergarten classes for the 2008-2009 school year will occur in the fall at the school the child will attend.  During the spring registration period, officials at the following schools will take the names of those interested in pre-kindergarten for the 2008-2009 school year, in order to gauge levels of interest in pre-kindergarten classes.

Schools offering Pre-kindergarten classes next year are Abita Springs Elementary, Abney Elementary, Alton Elementary, Bayou Woods Elementary, Bonne Ecole Elementary, Brock Elementary, Chahta-Ima Elementary, Covington Elementary, Fifth Ward Junior High, Florida Avenue Elementary, Folsom Elementary, Lee Road Junior High, Lyon Elementary, Madisonville Elementary, Mandeville Elementary, Pontchartrain Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Sixth Ward Elementary, Whispering Forest Elementary, and Woodlake Elementary

Children on this list are not assured placement in a pre-kindergarten class starting fall of 2008; eligibility for placement will be determined in the fall.  Fall registration dates will be released at a later date.   

To qualify for any regular education pre-kindergarten class, a child must meet the following three criteria: (1) has reached four years of age (48 months) before October 1, 2008; (2) resides within the attendance area served by the school site; and (3) has a family who agrees to participate in activities associated with the program and who will sign a contract stating that agreement.

Additional criteria must be met for some pre-kindergarten programs.  For specific information about student eligibility, registration dates and screening, call the St. Tammany Parish Pre-Kindergarten Office at 898-6483, ext. 208.  Students who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch may be charged tuition of $400 per month to attend a pre-kindergarten class.


Resolution Is Passed Requesting State Legislative Increase in School Bus Operational Allowance


A resolution asking the State Legislature to provide additional funding to the school bus operational expense allowance for school bus owner/operators was passed by the St. Tammany Parish School Board during a March Special Board meeting.

The resolution was approved as a response to significant increases in the cost of operating and maintaining school buses. The resolution will be sent to area legislators and all other members of the State Legislature.

To read the resolution passed by the School Board, Click Here.


School Board Adopts Policy To Deal With Extreme Heat


A policy protecting students from overheating while taking part in junior and senior high school athletics, and marching band, dance, cheerleading and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) activities has been adopted by the St. Tammany Parish School Board.

Extreme heat conditions in recent summers had heightened concerns about precautions needed to guard against heat-related illness or injury while students were engaged in school-sponsored activities. Although school personnel routinely have taken preventive measures for proper hydration and prevention of heat-related illness, a more intensive look into the issue seemed in order.

Superintendent Gayle Sloan said that school administrators and parents began looking to the School System for guidance in the situation, and at one point she was sending emails to principals daily asking them to be vigilant in keeping an eye on the temperatures. “I checked with other superintendents and school districts across the South to see what steps they were taking,” she told the Board at a committee meeting in March. “I didn’t find any other school districts in Louisiana with established policies on appropriate practices during periods of extreme heat, but I did get a lot of response from other school officials interested in what we would develop in dealing with the problem.”

School officials began researching the matter in October, 2007, relying upon the work of a specially appointed committee, which included a doctor, coaches, trainers, and parents.  The committee, headed by Supervisor of Administration Cathy Aime, came up with a list of recommended practices, including measuring the heat index before each outdoor physical activity. The term “extreme heat” is defined as a particular combination of heat and humidity in which the human body cannot cool itself adequately when engaged in outdoor activities. “The best defense is prevention,” said Aime, in speaking to the Board. “Decisive awareness of extreme heat situations is essential.”

Parish Director of Athletics Larry Favre said the new policy is being accompanied by a list of Superintendent’s guidelines for implementation, including a hydration protocol that considers individual sports dynamics. Instruction will be given to coaches, trainers, band leaders, teachers, and other supervisory staff members in the management of proper hydration for all outdoor activities, sports-related as well as programs involving physical education classes, band practice, cheerleading practice, and JROTC drills.

To promote the safety of all students, the recommendations include heat acclimatization procedures, signs and symptoms of heat illness, on-field treatments to ward off heat stroke, and acceptable considerations for an individual to “return to play.” According to the guidelines, activities should be modified or cancelled based on heat index levels determined by temperature and humidity.

To communicate concerns about heat extremes and educate participants about the need to follow the guidelines, information will be sent from the Superintendent’s office to parents, the news media, coaches, administrators and students.  Copies of the new policy will be posted in locker rooms, gyms, and activity rooms, with special mention at pre-season student athlete meetings of the precautions targeting heat exhaustion. Parent groups are encouraged to discuss the policy at association meetings and in parent newsletters.

While students involved in some sports programs already are already required to have an annual pre-participation physical examination, Favre said that beginning next year, the policy will require a pre-participation examination for all students taking part in activities covered in the policy.

To read the policy and guidelines, CLICK HERE.


Mrs. Hanson Is Appointed Principal of Pitcher Junior High School


Mrs. Roslyn Hanson, most recently a Parishwide Assistant Principal, was appointed principal of William Pitcher Junior High School at the March School Board meeting.

Pitcher Junior High was one of several schools to which she had been assigned this year. She previously served at Folsom Junior High, Lee Road Junior High, Mandeville Junior High, and Mandeville High Schools.

“I’ve hit the ground running,” she said this week. She was a teacher at Covington High School for many years and her own children went to Pitcher Junior High School, so she is already familiar with the school, its teachers, and students.

Mrs. Hanson’s vision of Pitcher Junior High School is a highly effective and engaging school, meeting high standards and expectations, while preparing its students to successfully make the “huge transition” to high school.

“We will all work together to help our students become effective learners in a positive environment,” she said.  She sees the upcoming extensive renovations to Pitcher Junior High as a facelift that will improve the way the school looks and operates, while retaining its historical ties to the community.  The school was once the site of Covington High School.

A native of Covington, she has a Masters of Education degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Studies Education, both from Southeastern Louisiana University. She began her career in education at Mandeville High School, teaching Civics and American History. She also taught at Abita Springs Junior High School and Covington High School.

One of her most memorable experiences as a classroom teacher was in 1999, when she and her communications class from Covington High travelled to Auckland, New Zealand, to cover the Asian Pacific Economic Conference as reporters for the Louisiana Work Force Development Program. “That was a really neat experience,” she said, “sitting in on press conferences, hearing Secretary of State Madeline Albright and President Bill Clinton.”

The project gave her a global perspective on the importance of the state’s work force initiative. “It made me realize the need to help my students become aware of their area of work interest and help them get ready to pursue their chosen careers,” she said.

She praised the parishwide assistant principal program for giving her a firm footing and knowledge of the responsibilities in becoming a principal.  Before being named a Parishwide Assistant Principal, she served as a Curriculum Specialist in Social Studies.


Teachers Earning National Board Certification Honored by School Board


Thirteen teachers with the St. Tammany Public School System were recognized by the School Board at its February meeting for successfully earning certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards for 2007-2008.

The group was among 181 Louisiana teachers statewide receiving National Board certification this year.  Currently, the state ranks 13th nationwide in the number of new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT’s) per state. Nationwide, 8,500 teachers gained National Board certification this year, the largest yearly percentage increase in the history of the National Board.

Joining the ranks of Board Certified Teachers in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System this year are Kathleen Bordelon, Pontchartrain Elementary School; Adair Watkins, Fontainebleau Junior High School; Christa Allen, Fontainebleau High School; Susan Summers, Slidell High School; Jill Green, Riverside Elementary School; Glenda Schmidt, Slidell High School; Lorraine Brennecke, Covington Elementary School; Rita Handlin, Little Oak Middle School; Kirstie Bardy, Fifth Ward Junior High School; Deborah Richard, Cypress Cove Elementary School; Patricia Edmiston, Covington High School; Sherri Barton, Lee Road Junior High School; and Patricia Vicknair, Fontainebleau High School

The School System now has a total of 110 National Board certified teachers. 

The Louisiana State Department of Education encourages teachers to seek national board certification and, in some cases, provides grant money to help pay for the fees associated with application for certification. Once a teacher becomes National Board certified, their paycheck reflects a $5000 state subsidy for NBCT’s.

The purpose of the certification process is to establish high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do and to reward excellence in teaching.

The national certification process is voluntary and involves a rigorous performance-based assessment that takes from one to three years to complete. As part of the process, teachers build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes, and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching.

The National  Board for Professional Teaching Standards was created in 1987, resulting from a recommendation made by Carnegie Task Force on Teaching As A Profession. 

The five core propositions adopted by the National Board are (1) teachers are committed to students and their learning, (2) teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach these subjects to students, (3) teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning, (4) teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience, and (5) teachers are members of learning communities.

Brandon Clanton, Human Resources Supervisor, introduced this year’s National Board Certified Teachers at the February School Board meeting, congratulating them for their accomplishment and commitment to professional excellence.


School Board Honors Nationally Certified Social Workers, Counselors and Psychologists


Having earned national board certification in their respective fields, several St. Tammany Parish Public School System social workers, psychologists, and school guidance counselors appeared before the St. Tammany Parish School Board at a recent meeting to be recognized for their professional achievement.

Those recognized were School Guidance Counselors Lesa Kabrich, Lake Harbor Middle School, and Kristen Silessi, Northshore High School, both certified through the Louisiana Department of Education and the National Board for Certified Counselors under its School Counselor program.

Also recognized were School Psychologists Amber Creel, Slidell Pupil Appraisal, and Kelly Menendez, Harrison Curriculum Center, both certified through the State Department of Education and with nationally certified from the National School Psychology Certification Board.

School System social workers who were honored for achieving national certification included Darryl Bruno, Annie Chalmers, Jill Farrish, Allen Hutti, Laura Morris, Rebecca Sencial, Beverly Toebben, and M’Lee Townsend, all based at the Harrison Curriculum Center; and Corliss Aguillard, Ann Labauve, and Shannon Noonan, all three based at Slidell Pupil Appraisal.  They have achieved a Certified School Social Work Specialist certificate from the National Association of Social Workers as well as an ancillary certificate recognized and approved by Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana State Department of Education.


Superintendent Gives Report On Abney Elementary School Incident


Addressing the St. Tammany Parish School Board four days after the arrest of a former custodian at Abney Elementary School and Northshore High School, Superintendent Gayle Sloan discussed the School System response and plans to address issues of school security.

“This past week has been a troubling and difficult time, as we learned that a former employee who worked for a short time at Abney Elementary School and Northshore High School had been arrested for criminal sexual offenses involving four of our students at Abney Elementary School,” Mrs. Sloan said. No allegations involving Northshore High School students have been made.

“We are very grateful for the manner in which everyone has worked together to support our students and to bring a constructive approach to a very difficult situation,” she said.  “Our students and community certainly will benefit from the cooperation among parents, staff, and law enforcement that we have seen.”

She commended the parents, students and staff at Abney Elementary for their efforts in helping maintain a focused, productive learning environment during the week.  The many constructive suggestions offered by parents in a positive and caring climate were appreciated, she said.

Mrs. Sloan also thanked the Slidell Police Department for its work in investigating the allegations, making the arrest, and helping to release information about the case in a way that helped the community process and handle the situation.

“Our School System has cooperated fully with the Slidell Police Department and provided whatever has been needed to help them fully investigate the matter,” she stated. “We began our own investigation, and we are using that information to help guide our decisions and response to this matter.  Our School System security coordinators have worked with others at the school and district to begin a comprehensive assessment of the situation.”

The incident has prompted the School System to review policies, procedures, daily operation, and other areas, to help determine ways that improvements can be made in school safety.

Letters went sent out earlier in the week and a follow-up letter was scheduled to be mailed Friday to parents of Abney Elementary students. “We have taken extra steps at Abney Elementary to reassure parents, to assist the staff in dealing with the news, and to help provide a climate conducive to student learning,” Mrs. Sloan said.

As long as needed, extra staff will remain in place at the school to assist the administration and to provide additional counselors for students, parents, and staff.  The questions and comments from parents, staff, and others are being thoroughly reviewed for ideas leading to improved safety. Mrs. Sloan said that School System security coordinators and other officials are working closely with law enforcement and school officials to canvass the school and make recommendations where necessary to tighten security.

The situation has prompted School System officials to hasten the installation of security cameras in strategic locations at Abney Elementary. The cameras will be funded by the reauthorization of a bond issue passed March 8.

In addition, Mrs. Sloan reported that the School System will hire an independent firm to assess System hiring practices to help determine areas in which the System may be able to make improvements. Efforts also are under way to ask for assistance in filing state and federal legislation that will allow school systems even more access to background information on potential applicants.

Parents with questions may call 892-2276 for information. The School System Crisis Intervention Team is offering a list of tips to support parents in talking to their children about the situation. CLICK HERE to download the suggestions in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.



Technology Support Team To Provide Professional Development Expertise


A Technology Support Team has been created by the St. Tammany Parish Public School System to support teacher efforts to seamlessly integrate technology into their daily lessons.

The team consists of a group of teachers who are leading the use of technology in the classroom, with the assistance of School System curriculum and technology experts, and Southeastern Louisiana University technology professors. All are working together to enhance and support teacher professional development in this initiative.

The team will coach and offer technology assistance in particular to teachers with less than three years of experience in the classroom. The first phase of the team’s efforts started with teachers primarily in grades Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade, said Mrs. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.

“Several professional development opportunities for the Technology Support Team have been implemented already,” she said. “The first opportunity this year included a three-day seminar given by Dr. Jason Hancock, an SLU professor. Seminar participants were offered the chance to take a graduate-level, online university course for credit, to deepen their skills and competencies, in keeping with our established partnership with Southeastern.”

The School System will continue to provide professional development to each member of the Technology Support Team through monthly meetings, and the team members will pass on that expertise to teachers on an ongoing basis. “The district’s goal is to maximize online learning for teachers and to minimize time spent away from the classroom, “ Mrs. Arabie said. “We believe this partnership benefits all of our teachers and will yield results that benefit all of our students.”


Standardized Testing All This Week


Students across St. Tammany Parish and the State are now taking standardized tests, as part of the Louisiana Department of Education Accountability Program.

Fourth and eighth grade students are taking the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) criterion-referenced tests.

The Graduate Exit Exams (GEE) is being given to students in grades 10 and 11.

Students in third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth grades are taking the iLeap (Integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) norm-referenced tests.


Information, Parent Tips Are Offered To Abney Elementary School and Northshore High School Parents


Information has been sent to parents of Abney Elementary School and Northshore High School parents about the arrest of a former custodian at the schools who was taken into custody recently for criminal conduct involving two students at Abney Elementary School.  Parents were given a School System Central Office telephone number to call to speak to supervisors who can answer questions about the matter and put them in contact with a counselor if needed.  Concerned parents may call 892-2276 for more information.

In light of the troubling allegations involving Abney Elementary School students, special counselors were brought into the school Tuesday to talk to students, parents, and staff who may have questions or concerns requiring special attention.  The students and staff were hard at work at school Tuesday, many involved in standardized testing.

A number of parents have availed themselves of the counseling services since the letters went out, and services will continue to be provided as long as needed.

In addition, the School System Crisis Intervention Team is offering a list of tips to support parents in talking to their children about the situation. CLICK HERE to download the suggestions.

The file is in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.


Bond Reauthorization Is Approved By Voters


 St. Tammany Parish voters went to the polls Saturday, March 8, and approved a $167 million bond reauthorization that enables the St. Tammany Parish School System to upgrade technology, enhance school security, and provide for new school construction and extensive renovations to existing school facilities across the Parish.

The bond issue reauthorization passed 68 percent of the votes in favor to 32 percent of the votes opposed in official counts. The bonds will be repaid through the renewal of existing property taxes, with no increase in tax rates.
Superintendent Gayle Sloan expressed gratitude for the community’s support of the measure, saying that school officials will begin moving forward quickly with the improvements. “We have long known and appreciated strong community support for our School System.  We are committed to being responsive to the needs of our students and our community and will continue to work hard to move our School System to even greater levels of achievement,” said Mrs. Sloan.  “We thank all those who supported this reauthorization.”


Of the $150 million provided for new construction and renovation of school facilities, $25.5 million will go toward building an Advanced Studies Center that will be a key component of the new Learning Park planned for the Parish. The Learning Park also will consist of satellite campuses of several regional universities and a technical/career school.

The Advanced Studies Center will give high schools students an exciting educational opportunity to pursue advanced courses in the arts, science, and technology, as well as detailed training in technical and career areas, Mrs. Sloan said.

The Bond Reauthorization also provides for construction of a new elementary school in the fast-growing Madisonville area, in addition to significant renovations and remodeling to 16 existing older school facilities.

Technology Upgrades

Another important need addressed by the reauthorization is upgrading technology in all schools and technology support at the district level. A total of $15 million is allocated for technology.  The funding gives all schools equal footing in providing basic technology infrastructure to help all students, with an additional per student stipend.  Allocation of technology funds will begin immediately and the investment will be paid for within the next four years. 

Security Cameras

Also, $2 million of networked security cameras are expected to be put in place throughout the School System by the end of the year. The security camera system will include 25 cameras per high school, 10 cameras per junior high, and five cameras per elementary school.

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School Board Bond Issue Reauthorization Election Is Saturday, March 8


A $167 million School Board bond reauthorization geared toward moving the School System forward on several fronts, is on the ballot this Saturday, March 8.

The proposed reauthorization includes funding for major advances in instructional technology in the schools; enhanced security on all school campuses, through the installation of networked security cameras; and construction initiatives, including two new schools and extensive remodeling and renovation of 16 schools.

The package of improvements will be backed by a renewal of existing millage, with no increase in tax rates.

School officials have spoken to citizens across the Parish over the past month about the bond reauthorization, with appearances before parent groups, civic organizations, and School System employees.

Endorsements of the reauthorization have come in from a wide variety of community and business associations, as well as elected leaders, including Mayor Marshell Brumfield, Village of Folsom; Penny Dastugue, BESE Board Member; Kevin Davis, St. Tammany Parish President; Mayor Louis Fitzmorris, Town of Abita Springs;  James Garvey, District 1 BESE Representative; Mayor Peter Gitz, Town of Madisonville; Mayor Barbara Gibson, Village of Sun; Mayor James Lavigne, Town of Pearl River; Mayor Ben Morris, City of Slidell; Mayor Eddie Price, City of Mandeville; District Attorney Walter Reed; Sheriff Jack Strain; Mayor Candace Watkins, City of Covington; East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce; the Military Road Alliance; the Northshore Area Board of Realtors; the St. Tammany Democratic Party Executive Committee; the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation; St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees; the St. Tammany Parish District PTA; and the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee

Under the plan, $15 million would be allocated to essential instructional technology for schools and System support of the technology in the schools. 

To implement additional security initiatives in the schools, $2.1 million would be used to equip schools with campus surveillance cameras, as proposed under the Safe Schools Initiative. Security cameras were high on the list of recommendations from parents, law enforcement, and educators for finding proactive ways to help maintain safe schools. Cameras already installed at some high schools have proven highly-effective in reducing vandalism and disruptive behavior.

On the list of bond-financed capital improvements is an Advanced Studies Center for high school students from all the high schools in the School System.  At the Center, students will focus on in-depth instruction in arts, science, technology, and technical/career fields.  The Center will be a key component in the proposed Learning Park to be developed in the center of the Parish. Area universities and colleges are planning to bring their satellite campuses to a University Square in the Learning Park.

A new elementary school in the high-growth Madisonville area and renovations and/or expansions of 16 existing facilities across the Parish also are being included in the $150 million capital improvements package.

Give us your comments on the proposed reauthorization by clicking on the Public Comment link on the home page of the School Systems Web site,  http://www.stpsb.org.


Standardized Testing Scheduled All Week March 10-14


Beginning Monday, March 10, students across St. Tammany Parish and the State will take standardized tests, as part of the Louisiana Department of Education Accountability Program.

Fourth and eighth grade students will be taking the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) criterion-referenced tests.

The Graduate Exit Exams (GEE) are given to students in grades 10 and 11.

Students in third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth grades will be taking the iLeap (Integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) norm-referenced tests.


School System Calendar for 2008-2009 Is Available


The school calendar for the 2008-2009 School Year is now available.

 CLICK HERE to download an Adobe Acrobat PDF File of the calendar for next year. You will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view the file. A free copy of the program can be obtained from www.adobe.com.



Family Information Fair Planned for March 19


The annual Family Information Fair held by the St. Tammany Parish Public School System will take place Wednesday, March 19, 2008, beginning at 9:00 a. m. at Castine Center in Pelican Park near Mandeville.  The fair is designed to help families with special needs children obtain information from a variety of agencies and services all in one place at one time.

The three-hour fair will feature representatives and displays from more than twenty local and state agencies, including Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, St. Tammany Parish Medicaid, and STARC. The public is invited to attend free of charge. Each agency will be able to give detailed information on services available to parents, teachers and students.

As part of the informational event, two seminars will be held. A seminar sponsored by Northshore Families Helping Families will focus on developing trusts for special needs children. The second seminar, presented by the Louisiana Department of Education, will emphasize ways to develop effective transition plans for special needs students becoming adults.

For details on the informational fair, contact Mike Alford or Kim Cochran at the St. Tammany Parish School Board Harrison Curriculum Center at (985) 898-3300.


School Board Calls Election on March 8 for $167 Million Bond Reauthorization


The St. Tammany Parish School Board has called for a bond reauthorization election on March 8, 2008, to finance upgrades to instructional technology and school security systems and school construction and renovation projects.

The reauthorization would allow the School System to sell bonds in the amount of $167 million to pay for the improvements, with no new taxes.  A renewal of existing millage would provide financing for the package.

Under the proposal, a $15 million new instructional technology initiative would provide essential technology for schools and Systemwide technology to support the school technology initiatives.  In addition, some $2 million would be allocated to equip schools with an array of campus surveillance cameras, as proposed under the Safe Schools Initiative.

A substantial list of capital improvements, including new construction and extensive renovations, is part of the package.  Those projects would include an advanced studies high school in the proposed Learning Park now being developed northeast of Mandeville. A new elementary school in the high-growth Madisonville area and the renovation and/or expansion of 16 existing facilities across the Parish also are being included in the $150 million capital improvements package.

 Give us your comments on the proposed reauthorization by clicking on the Public Comment link on the home page of the School Systems Web site,  http://www.stpsb.org.


Schools Closed Friday, March 7, for Record Keeping/Professional Development


Public schools in St. Tammany Parish will be closed Friday, March 7, 2008, for one-half day of professional development sessions and one-half day of record keeping, following the end of the third grading period on March 6.
Classes will resume on Monday, March 10, 2008.
School Board offices will be open.


Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday, March 9; Move Clocks Ahead One Hour


Students and parents will need to adjust clocks and routines this weekend to ensure students arrive at school on time Monday morning, ready to learn. Daylight Savings Time will go into effect this weekend on Sunday morning, March 9.  Clocks should be set to “spring forward” one hour.

Making the time transition is especially important this year, as high-stakes testing begins on Monday, March 10.  On the second Sunday in March, clocks are set ahead one hour at 2:00 a.m. local standard time, which becomes 3:00 a.m. local daylight savings time.


Technology Helps Students Focus on LEAP Success


In the past two years, additional emphasis on integrating technology into teaching YES and Win classes across St. Tammany Parish has resulted in significant success in helping students stay in school. The YES and Win programs are designed to help students who have experienced failure in the traditional school environment.  Teachers in these classrooms are specially trained to use creative and effective ways to work with the students.

LaTanya Alfred and Cara Barry, LEAP Intervention teachers, appeared before the St. Tammany Parish School Board at a recent committee meeting to give a status report on how the two programs are helping fourth and eighth grade students do well on LEAP tests. YES is for at-risk students at the junior high level, while Win is for at-risk youth in the elementary grades.

Both YES and Win classes are limited to 15 students per self-contained classroom. Technology has become a key component to maintaining high interest levels, since the students respond to new technologies, said Ms. Alfred.

The technology push started in 2006, when Ms. Alfred and Ms. Barry joined the programs. “We prepare and organize materials for teachers doing LEAP Summer Remediation, we help Testing Coordinator Karen Kety with the testing programs, and we work with Curriculum Specialists on professional development for YES and Win teachers, said Ms. Alfred. “That’s a responsibility that I hold dear to my heart, because that’s where we get to interact with the teachers and students around the Parish.”

While the two programs emphasize reading, writing, and math, building self-esteem in the students also is a big priority, Ms. Barry said. “And we encourage parents to become involved in the program.”

Technology such as Blackboard, a web-based, interactive communication tool for teachers, has helped the teachers perform their jobs more effectively.  Through regular computer visits to sites on Blackboard, they are better informed about successful approaches and programs that other educators are using. “They can collaborate with each other on Blackboard,” Ms. Alfred said. “There they find different tools they can use, different PowerPoint presentations, educational games that reinforce the Guaranteed Curriculum, LEAP test practice sessions, and many other helpful resources.”

Two major professional development programs are held each year for the YES and Win teachers. Those sessions emphasize working together, learning to use new technology in the classroom, and motivating teachers and students. A wealth of new materials is offered to the teachers at each program, and these, as well as new teaching ideas (such as scavenger hunts for “geometric shapes”), are taken back to the classroom to benefit the students.

Past professional development programs have offered instruction in digital cameras, computer microscopes, Google Earth, and Microsoft Photo Story. One particularly successful idea that teachers have taken back to their classrooms involved taking samples of water from the students’ water bottles, some of which had been in their backpacks for weeks, and examining them under the microscope. Seeing the swarm of bacterial life in the water made students more aware of not consuming anything left in their backpacks for any length of time.

Response from the YES and Win teachers to the continuing professional development and the emphasis on new technology has been significant, both Ms. Alfred and Ms. Barry said.  Testimony about the effectiveness of the YES and Win programs came recently from two former YES students who are now successful businessmen. They were invited to attend a meeting of YES and Win teachers, and the two told the teachers that the reason they now are successful (in an auto repair business and music career) was the YES program they had attended years ago. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Ms. Alfred said.

Ms. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, said the YES and Win programs adhere to the same instructional time criteria that the standard classroom curriculum follows. “What we find in the YES and Win classes is that the environment is allowing the teacher to extend some of the English/Language Arts instruction time if they need to,” she said. “That’s important because of the high-stakes nature of LEAP testing in those two grade levels.”


School Board Earns Recognition For Outstanding Financial Reporting


Two certificates for excellence in financial reporting were awarded to the St. Tammany Parish Public School System again this year, the 19th consecutive year for the honors from two different and highly-respected professional government accounting organizations.

Representatives from the American School Business Officials International (ASBOIntl) and the Government Finance Officers Association of Louisiana (GFOA) appeared before the School Board at a recent meeting to announce the recognitions.

 Daryl Purpera, First Assistant State Legislative Auditor, represented the GFOA in presenting its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, and Todd Tournillion, partner, Postlethwaite & Netterville, APAC, represented the ASBO for the presentations.

 The GFOA certificate recognition program is more than 50 years old, said Purpera, and organizations who are singled out for recognition have to meet very stringent criteria. “This is not something that every agency is qualified to received,” he said, “It represents efforts that are over and above what government accounting standards require.” Since 1945, the program has become widely known as the premier indicator of excellence in governmental accounting.

 The certificate signifies that the School System accounting staff is exhibiting a high level of professionalism and dedication, Purpera said, adding that the tone of professionalism is one that comes from the School Board itself. Having received the honor for 19 years is quite an accomplishment, he said. 

School System Business Affairs Director Brett Stoltz and his entire staff also were praised for their comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). Mr. Tournillion said that the ASBOIntl Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting is the group’s highest recognition for outstanding annual financial reports. “The certificate program is designed to enable school officials to achieve a high standard of financial reporting.

In preparing and presenting its annual Comprehensive Financial Report, the School Board validates the credibility of the School System’s operations, measures the integrity and technical competence of the business staff, assists in strengthening the Board’s interest rates in bond issuances, helps acquire a higher bond rating, and provides professional recognition for the accounting and business office staff,” Tournillion explained.

ASBOIntl established the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting Program in 1972 to encourage and recognize excellence in school system comprehensive annual financial reports. The primary objective of the program is to promote high-quality school system financial reporting through the preparation of a CAFR, using the guidelines of the certificate program.

The purpose of the financial statements is to report on and provide an overview of the financial position and operations of the school system (including its component units). The CAFR enables school business officials to educate the school board and the public about the status of a school system's finances.

St. Tammany Parish School Board was one of only 19 School Boards in Louisiana to receive the ASBOIntl Certificate of Excellence for its Comprehensive Financial Report.

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Funds From Grant Provide Significant Technology Upgrades


More than half-a-million dollars worth of technology upgrades and training were provided to St. Tammany Parish public schools last year from an “Energy for Learning Program” grant from the Chevron Corporation. A total grant of $750,000 was completed with the final installment of a $247,000 donation at a recent School Board meeting.

Phase I of the grant began last year with a $502,000 allocation. Those funds were used for computers, Promethean Boards, projectors, videos and professional development books in all St. Tammany public schools. 

“This grant provides a boost in learning opportunities for all students,” Ms. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction, said. At the check presentations, she thanked Chevron official Melody Meyer, Vice President, Chevron Exploration and Production, Gulf of Mexico, for the company’s continuing commitment to education, adding that this grant helped focus on utilization of technology to support implementation of the School System’s Guaranteed Curriculum. 

Chanel Jolly, Energy for Learning Program Director, toured schools during the year to see first hand the use of the funding. “We invested the money, but this would not have been the success it is without the students, teachers, and administrators of the St. Tammany Parish School System,” she said. 

Ms. Meyer said the School System was doing wonderful things with the money, and she thanked the School Board for its continued commitment to quality education. Ms. Meyer also noted that she and many other Chevron employees will be making the move from their New Orleans offices to the newly-construction Chevron building south of Covington next month. “We look forward to being your neighbors,” she told the School Board.

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Northshore High School Band Wins Grand Champion Title in National Festival


Officials with the AT&T Cotton Bowl Music Festival have announced that the Northshore High School band took top honors in the January 1, 2008, competition among 13 bands from across the country.

Northshore High won the Grand Champion designation in the Field Show Competition, and students Sammi Greco, Jennifer Beyer and Amy Mullins won the honor of Best Drum Majors. The band also won Division III Third Place in the Comerica Bank New Year’s Parade as part of the music festival.  The “Texas-style showdown” took place in Dallas, with more than 1600 band members taking part in a packed Cotton Bowl stadium.

Northshore High School Band Director Daniel Eitmann, now in his second year as band director at Northshore High, said that 130 band members took the trip to Dallas for the event. “There were a lot of people in the stands and on the field,” he commented.

The AT&T Cotton Bowl Music Festival is one of several events developed by AT&T and the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association to extend activities beyond the January 1 football game.

Earlier in the school year, the band placed 7th in the Louisiana Showcase of Marching Bands state competition in Lafayette. “To finish in the top ten there is great,” he stated.

Principal Michael Peterson said the band did exceptionally well in the Cotton Bowl competition, putting on an excellent half time show.  “Northshore High’s marching band was first out on the field and up front while performing,” he said. “That’s the ultimate honor. We are very proud of  the band’s reputation and all the students who take part. We have always had an outstanding music program.”



LEAP Help Center Offers Practice Test Assistance


The Louisiana State Department of Education is offering a toll-free LEAP Tutoring Helpline for fourth and eighth grade students taking the practice tests sent to their schools earlier this year.

Students preparing to take the LEAP next month can call the new Tutoring Helpline at 1-877-453-2721. Practice books have been made available to all schools, and students are encouraged to complete several lessons from the practice books each night leading up to the test.

“The practice book is an excellent tool to assist students with reviewing math and English concepts for the test, and the Tutoring Helpline is a convenient way to ask questions from home during the evening,” said Ms. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction.

Tutors are now available on the LEAP Helpline from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning February 18 to February 28, 2008, to help students who need assistance with questions about the test.
LEAP, iLEAP and GEE exams will be given the week of March 10 in all public schools in Louisiana.


School System Officials To Consider Changes to Pupil Progression Plan


Officials with the St. Tammany Parish Public School System will soon begin conducting meetings to receive input and discuss proposed changes to the System Pupil Progression Plan. Members of the public will have an opportunity to give input on the proposed changes on Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 7:00 p.m., at Slidell Junior High School in Slidell. 

The plan establishes placement, promotion, retention, and grading policies for students within the local public school system.  A committee of school administrators, teachers and parents meets annually to review the plan and submit recommendations to the School Board for consideration.

Administrators will meet on March 3 to give their input and ideas, and a meeting of the Pupil Progression Plan Advisory Committee will meet on March 19 for discussion of any changes proposed by the administrators. Following the Public Input meeting on April 1, the proposed Plan will be presented to the St. Tammany Parish School Board for its consideration at the June 5, 2008, Committee As A Whole meeting and again at the July 10 School Board meeting at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex.


LEAP Help Center Offers Practice Test Assistance


The Louisiana State Department of Education is offering a toll-free LEAP Tutoring Helpline for fourth and eighth grade students taking the practice tests sent to their schools earlier this year.

Students preparing to take the LEAP next month can call the new Tutoring Helpline at 1-877-453-2721. Practice books have been made available to all schools, and students are encouraged to complete several lessons from the practice books each night leading up to the test.

“The practice book is an excellent tool to assist students with reviewing math and English concepts for the test, and the Tutoring Helpline is a convenient way to ask questions from home during the evening,” said Ms. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction.

Tutors are now available on the LEAP Helpline from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning February 1 to February 28, 2008, to help students who need assistance with questions about the test.
LEAP, iLEAP and GEE exams will be given the week of March 10 in all public schools in Louisiana.


Northshore High Recognized Among Top High Schools by U.S. News and World Report


Among almost 19,000 high schools in the country, Northshore High School in Slidell has placed among the top 1600 schools in the United States that have been recognized by U. S. News and World Report magazine in its first-ever ranking of America’s Best High Schools. The formula used to identify the top schools came from a collaboration between the magazine and School Evaluation Services, an educational data research and analysis business run by Standard & Poors, a provider of independent credit ratings, indices, risk evaluation, investment research, data, and valuations.

The magazine listed Northshore High in its Bronze Medal category, which included 29 other high schools in Louisiana.  The schools were singled out for their success in helping students achieve their post-graduation goals.

High schools in 40 states were evaluated. First, the magazine measured how each school’s students performed on state tests, adjusting for student circumstances. Then, the schools were judged on how well disadvantaged students performed, and, finally, the procedure looked at whether the school was successful in providing college-level coursework for its students.

“A good high school can open worlds of opportunity for its students,” the magazine stated in its announcement of the ranking results. “It must serve all its students well, not just those who are bound for college, and it must be able to produce measureable academic outcomes that show the school is successfully educating it student body across a range of performance indicators.”

At a recent School Board meeting, Neal Hennegan, School Board President, pointed out that the ranking was based on research conducted during the school year that included Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Michael Peterson, Northshore High principal, said, “The U .S. News and World Report research identified schools that among other things showed significant improvement among students who were shown to be at risk, academically, for one reason or another.   Through the effective instruction and learning taking place at Northshore High, our students were successful in the high-stakes testing, even in the days following the hurricane.”

Dr. Peterson noted that it was during this period when Northshore High was platooning half-a-day and facing a significant challenge in focusing on critical parts of the curriculum. “I am very proud of what our teachers and students have been able to achieve,” he said.

Ms. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction, said, “We were very pleased to hear that Northshore High School has been named a Bronze Medal School in the U.S. News and World Report for America’s Best High Schools. Congratulations go to Dr. Peterson and his staff for the great job they are doing for all the students.”


Northshore High School Eighth Grade Scheduling Meeting Is Postponed to February 13, 2008


Because of inclement weather conditions, the Northshore High School 8th grade scheduling meeting planned for Tuesday, February 12, was rescheduled to Wednesday, February 13, 6:30 p. m., at the school.  Students with last names beginning with the letters A through L originally were to meet on February 12, and all others were to meet February 13.  The two groups will meet together on February 13.


Students Share Instruction Via Video Technology


The old adage that you can’t be in two places at the same time may not apply to Fontainebleau High School teacher Shelly Easterling. She has been teaching two classes at the same time, one at Fontainebleau High School and the other at Pearl River High School, through new video conferencing technology.

The “distance learning” concept, long a dream in educational circles, has been realized in a very practical way as technology and teachers come together to offer classes to students who otherwise would not be able to attend. Eight students at Pearl River High now sit in on Ms. Easterling’s class at Fontainebleau High via a televised arrangement that is almost like being there.

“The students at both locations were very excited about being involved in the program,” Ms. Easterling said. “They couldn’t wait to see how the equipment worked and to meet their peers across the parish.”  The instructional program involves an equipment package that provides cameras and televisions at both schools, with a communications link over phone lines set up by the Information Technology (IT) department.

“The teacher can see the students in Pearl River, and the students in Pearl River can see the teacher in the classroom at Fontainebleau High,” explained Ms. Julie Matte, Supervisor of Technology. “When the students speak, everyone in both places hears what is being said. When the teacher answers, everyone hears the answer.”

Secondary Supervisor Dr. Regina Sanford helped put the classes and technology together at the beginning of this school year, implementing the “distance learning” package in the two schools to offer Easterling’s Advanced Placement Honors English IV class to Pearl River High students. Working out the logistics for the program was quite a challenge.

“We made sure that each site had a working television, a distance learning cart,  and the proper phone lines,” said Dr. Sanford.  “IT does the video and audio connections, and the 23 students at Fontainebleau High are joined by the eight students at Pearl River High. They are taught at the same time, and a facilitator at Pearl River High helps the Pearl RIver students when the students are working on their own. She also may lead a discussion of the day’s subject matter after the video conferencing ends.”

The Pearl River students communicate with Ms. Easterling by email, asking questions, making comments, and submitting assignments electronically, Dr. Sanford explained. “One day Ms. Easterling went to the Pearl River High campus to visit her video students in person. She met with them and then reversed the distance learning process by conducting classes at Pearl River High while her Fontainebleau High students watched over the video link,” she said.

Ms. Easterling, who has been teaching in the School System for the past seven years, was nervous at first when asked to participate in the new program, but after thinking it over, she decided to try it out. Now, she is very comfortable with the process.

A field trip late last year by the Pearl River students brought them a face-t0-face meeting with Fontainebleau High “classmates.” They all sat together in one class in a “Socratic Seminar” that featured student-led discussion of the subject matter being taught, while the teacher listened and took notes. This interaction gave the students a chance to ask each other questions and further their understanding of the lesson material. “Their discussions were rich and productive,” Dr. Sanford commented.

The distance learning arrangement may be an alternative resource when long-term substitutes are needed for some classes. For example, Spanish speaking substitutes are often difficult to find when a Spanish teacher is on an extended absence, but with video teleconferencing, two Spanish classes in different schools could share the same Spanish teacher, Dr. Sanford noted.

At the beginning of the year, Ms. Karen DeVillier, Director of the School System Intervention and Drop Out Prevention Program, who has had good success with technology-enhanced instruction, helped work out the logistics at both school sites.  She and others saw St. Tammany Parish School System’s first opportunity to use this technology for a full-scale class, although video-conferencing had been used, on a limited basis, in a psychology class shared between Slidell High and Mandeville High last year.

“It came to our attention that Pearl River High did not have an AP Honors English IV teacher,” she said, recalling when Dr. Sanford and Mrs. Matte first got in touch with her. “We had been trying to expand distance learning, and we all said ‘Let’s do this with video conferencing.’”

She commended Ms. Easterling’s teaching skills in handling the distance learning technology challenges. “Any time you do something new, there are issues that need to be resolved. You are the trailblazer. People are noticing our success and now want to get involved in doing it, also.”

The School System Information Technology Department provided a wealth of support. After some initial tweaking, the program has met with tremendous success, Dr. Sanford said.  “We are now capable of holding classes at one school and offering students at other schools the chance to attend these classes that, otherwise, they may have missed. At Pearl River High, we offered AP Honors English IV.  At Northshore High, we are looking at doing the same thing for Spanish Level 3. This teaching approach will be invaluable in the future, as more students throughout the System can be grouped together in a class through distance learning video for better use of our resources. 

“From my perspective, I also see those students having a wonderful opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with other students that they, otherwise, wouldn’t have had.  I think distance learning through video will be the answer, more and more, as the need arises,” Dr. Sanford concluded.

Ms. DeVillier said that with video-based distance learning, it is truly remarkable the way the students get involved in the give and take of the discussion. Since many college class offerings involved video conferencing, she feels that St. Tammany Parish students will have a head start in adapting to and becoming comfortable with distance learning via video.


FHS Band Gets National Exposure


The Fontainebleau High School band program continues to find the spotlight and draw far-ranging attention to this outstanding music program.

Adding to the national exposure the band has received already this year, the Fontainebleau High School Jazz Ensemble has been selected to take part in the first annual national Swing Central Competition in Savannah, George, one of twelve bands from throughout the country to perform. The ensemble sent in an audition CD and was offered the opportunity to attend the national high school jazz band competition the first weekend in April. The competition is an offshoot of a previously regional high school band competition held by the Savannah Music Festival.

At the event, the young musicians will have a chance to perform, study with. and watch performances by esteemed clinicians including Marcus Roberts, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Clayton, and James Ketch.

The purpose of the Swing Central Jazz Festival is to provide three days of intense jazz workshops for aspiring young musicians, along with competitive performances for part of  a $13,000 cash award. They will perform before a panel of judges and the public at the Savannah Civic Center during the competition, and all bands will perform for the public April 4 and 5 at Savannah’s City Market.

For more information on the music festival, click here. (http://www.savannahmusicfestival.org)

Local students and band leaders are looking forward to the experience that will enable them to meet musicians and hear other bands from throughout the country, from as far away as California. In March, the Fontainebleau High group will be visited by one of the participating music clinicians for a workshop to help them prepare for the April event.

“We also will receive a $500 stipend to help pay for some of the costs associated with the trip in April,” said Ralph Lee Hicks, Jr., the director of bands.

At the competition, the jazz ensemble will be asked to play three selections, with one being chosen by the festival organizers, the second chosen by the band director, and the third a “test” piece composed especially for Swing Central by jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon.

A previous music clinic at Fontainebleau High with Stanton Moore motivated band students to take the Jazz Ensemble “to the next level,” Hicks commented. “We look forward to representing our school and the School System in this prestigious event in Savannah.”

The Fontainebleau High School Crimson Band earlier earned the honor of performing at the AllState Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. The band was featured along with the Erath High School Band in a 90-second Fox Network video that was shown nationally.  The video focused on the hard work that band students put into what they do, especially with the challenge of getting the band program back on its feet after Hurricane Katrina, said Mr. Hicks.

Also this summer, the FHS Crimson Band has been invited to represent Louisiana at the July 4th parade in Washington D.C., the country's largest July 4th event, Hicks said.

The band director and his students are looking forward to the performance and the national exposure that the July 4th event in Washington and the early April Swing Central Competition will provide Fontainebleau High School and the School System.


Basic Computer Workshop Is Offered For Residents 50 Years or Older


Training in basic computer skills and digital camera use for residents 50 years of age and older are being offered this month at the Instructional Technology Center (ITC) in Mandeville. The free training will take place on four consecutive Tuesdays from February 12 through March 4, from 6:00 p. m. to 8:00 p. m.

Public response to the workshop sessions has been overwhelming, and two additional classes have been added. Anyone wishing to attend the workshop sessions is now being put on a waiting list for future sessions when they are scheduled.

Each session covers a different topic, and registrants may attend one or more sessions, depending upon their interest in the information covered.  The training can help with decisions about computer purchases or with using a new computer recently purchased. Also to be covered are basic instructions on how to use digital cameras.

The sessions are free-of-charge and part of the School System’s new “Learning to Last A Lifetime Outreach,” a program custom-designed for persons 50 years of age or older.  Mrs. Julie Matte, a Curriculum and Instruction Supervisor with the School System, is working with the staff at the Instructional Technology Center to set up the course, which she describes as a “kick start into using a computer and something to help people who need basic computing skills, specifically in searching the internet and emailing.” The bonus training on digital cameras has proven to be a popular topic with parents and grandparents.

To be placed on the waiting list for future sessions, one may call 674-3534 for more information.

The St. Tammany Parish Public School System Instructional Technology Center is located at 2024 Livingston Street in Mandeville.


Professional Development Workshop Given For WIN/YES Teachers


 A series of technology education programs being offered throughout the School System is helping increase awareness of technology, helping educators meet their curriculum goals, and enhance the learning experience for students through technology.

More than 25 Win/YES Program teachers met for a professional development workshop at the School System’s Jefferson East Center recently, going over new ways to engage their students with computer and imaging technology. Julie Matte, Supervisor of Technology, said the workshop was designed to show how technology tools could be an integral part of the lesson.

Emphasis was placed on the use of digital cameras in the classroom to provide graphics for desktop presentations, multimedia projects, Web pages, and desktop publishing projects. A number of lesson plans using digital cameras in curriculum-enriching projects and software programs, such as Microsoft Photo Story and Google Earth, were suggested as worthwhile teaching enhancements.

Cara Barry, LEAP Intervention Teacher, welcomed the group to the workshop, and presentations were given by Science Curriculum Specialist Christy Paulsell, Math Curriculum Specialist Jan DeMeyere, and Science and Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Sandy Scott. Curriculum Specialist Rachael Blanchard, Physical Education Coordinator Kay Hursey, and English Language Arts (ELA) Curriculum Specialist Gail Carr also took part in scheduled presentations for the all-day event. Materials prepared by Francine Wood, ELA Curriculum Specialist, Grades K-4, were used in some of the activities.

Among the planned activities was a scavenger hunt to show how such an activity could be used to involve students across several academic disciplines. The “hunt” required participants to search for a list of objects, take pictures of them, and then correlate them to online cartographic services like Google Earth. Ms. Carr of the Professional Development staff said, “We try to give teachers ideas that are interdisciplinary and cross-curriculum; so, by featuring one thing, such as a map, the teachers can use the map or other item to also teach math skills, social studies lessons, and computer technology.”

Ms. Hursey said the workshop attendees were very interested in ways to “get the students moving” while reinforcing the English Language Arts and math skills being taught. Her presentation on cross-curricular lessons pointed out how movement can be used to emphasize the concepts in the lessons.

Win works within regular education to serve as a safety net for at-risk youth in the elementary grades. WIN students work on individual academic and social needs in a self-contained, 15-student setting. The program focuses on enhancing parental involvement and addressing areas of deficiency that are identified by LEAP 21 testing.

YES is designed for at-risk students at the junior-high level. Also, in a self-contained, 15-student setting, students address academic and social skills in an integrated program of studies. Career goals setting, self-concept building, basic skills instruction, and parental involvement are key elements.

“Win/YES were set up in the 1990’s as an intervention program to encourage eighth graders to do well and to positively impact student retention and graduation rates,” Carr explained.  “The programs have evolved into a LEAP intervention program, and we use them in the fourth and the eighth grades to work with those children whose scores indicate areas that need additional help.”

“The responses to this workshop from the teachers were fantastic,” she said. “They had a great day and will be bringing some great ideas back to use in their own classrooms.”

Mrs. Matte said that the primary focus is always on the curriculum, with technology as a tool to help emphasize that goal. She said that the first professional development workshop for Win/YES teachers this school year introduced them to digital microscopes and how they could be used in enhancing the curriculum.


2007-2008 Principals of the Year Are Recognized by School Board


Principals chosen for special recognition as Principals of the Year for 2007-2008 were honored by the St. Tammany Parish School Board at its January meeting. Chosen for the distinction are Mrs. Melanie Edwards, Magnolia Elementary School, Elementary Division; Mrs. Jackie Landry, Slidell Pathways, Middle School/Junior High Division; and Mr. Chris O’Regan, Operation Jumpstart, High School Division. Each was presented to the Board by Superintendent Gayle Sloan.
Thirty-four years ago, Mrs. Edwards began as a kindergarten and second grade teacher at Mandeville Elementary School. She served as Principal of the Mandeville Kindergarten Center before being named principal of Magnolia Trace Elementary eight and one-half years ago. Mrs. Sloan praised her for the high expectations she has for her students and staff and the creation of a positive learning environment at school.
As an administrator for the past 21 and one-half years, she is known for her special rapport with young students and the ways she helps them blossom with confidence through discovery learning techniques. Her leadership has been highly instrumental in equipping students to be successful as they move up to middle school grades, Mrs. Sloan said. Among her particular accomplishments are the “outdoor classroom” at Magnolia Trace where hands-on experiences give students a chance to interact with nature, including lessons on birds, gardening, pond research, and even  archeology.
Mrs. Edwards credited her staff with helping her achieve success at Magnolia Trace.
Mrs. Landry is honored with her selection as Principal of the Year and said, "I am always impressed with the knowledge, skill, and commitment of all our principals, and to be selected out of this group of professionals is humbling, to say the least."
She has worked in St. Tammany schools since 1984, serving as an evaluator and director of bi-lingual education; a special education social studies teacher; an assessment teacher with Slidell Pupil Appraisal; a school psychologist; and, the past several years, as Principal at Slidell Pathways.
She was saddened by the loss of their facility at Brooks Curriculum Center, which was flooded by the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina. Mrs. Sloan commended her for her adaptability and flexibility after telling of her school being moved twice after the hurricane. Pathways, an alternative school, had been located at the facility for 13 years when the storm forced it to relocate first to Slidell Junior High School and then Alton Elementary School. 
She feels that her work at Pathways has given her and her staff the opportunity to help special needs students overcome their own challenges through recognition of their successes.
With 30 years in St. Tammany Schools, Mr. O’Regan’s experiences cover a broad range of duties, including secondary social studies, special education, guidance counseling, and administration. His work with special populations includes experience at STARC, K Bar B, and Slidell Pathways, teaching students with emotional/behavioral (E/BD) disorders in a variety of classroom settings.
After thirteen years of teaching, he became parish coordinator for the E/BD Program and brought CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) to St. Tammany, training more than five hundred teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and paraprofessionals in crisis intervention techniques.
Mr. O'Regan served as principal of Slidell Pathways for three years before being chosen to lead the new alternative school, Operation Jumpstart, in 1997.  The emphasis at Operation Jumpstart is to help expelled students return to regular education with the skills necessary to be successful.
Mr. O'Regan said of the honor that it’s always gratifying to be recognized by his peers and colleagues. One of his proudest accomplishments was earning the SACS/CASI accreditation for an alternative school, he said.
He also is excited by the new administrative re-structuring at Operation Jumpstart, which brought in Danny Thiel as principal of the junior high students, with O'Regan overseeing the high school students. “I believe that students with problems have more in common with regular students than differences,” Mr. O’Regan told the School Board. 



Pacesetter Principals Help Other Schools in Other Systems Improve


Five St. Tammany Parish Public Schools were named Pacesetter Schools by the Louisiana State Department of Education last year, and their principals have been helping other schools around the state meet success in accountability improvements.

Mrs. Cheryl Arabie, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, announced the schools at the January School Board meeting, saying that the  five Parish schools were chosen as Pacesetters because of their high achievement in meeting their school accountability growth targets for three or more consecutive years. 

Schools and their principals recognized were Ms. Rebecca Stogner, Abita Springs Elementary School; Dr. Jean Krieger, Woodlake Elementary School; Dr. Kathleen Wiseman, Pontchartrain Elementary; Melanie Edwards, Magnolia Trace Elementary; and Dr. Tim Schneider, Fontainebleau Junior High.

Principals from the Pacesetter schools were invited to meet with other administrators from around the state in November at a summit conference in Baton Rouge. The principals served on panels to discuss the challenges facing schools striving to meet their accountability goals. “At the summit, they answered questions and shared their expertise with the other principals. They were teamed with other administrators in schools outside our System to work closely with them, and provide support to help them meet their growth targets,” Mrs. Arabie said.  Some other schools across the state sent administrators to visit with the St. Tammany Pacesetter schools to see first hand how they maintained their success in meeting accountability goals.

“I want to thank these principals for their support and extra effort to help other schools around the state in spite of their already heavy schedule,” she stated.
 Neal Hennegan, School Board President, congratulated the principals for reaching the “Pacesetter School” status. “We know that to be at the top or near the top and continue to get better, that’s truly a remarkable achievement,” he said. 


Reading Textbook Adoption Process Is Under Way


A review of available reading textbooks for grades 1 through 12 is now under way, as the St. Tammany Parish Public School System prepares to adopt texts that will be used for the next seven school years.

Every year a committee of 20 or more volunteers convenes to consider new textbook purchases in one of seven subject areas.  Committee members are allowed two months to look over the possible textbooks and discuss content, presentation, and the day-to-day teachability of the material, according to Secondary Supervisor Dennis Sharp who is in charge of the process.

The committee is made up of a variety of more than 25 persons representing parents, classroom teachers, and administrators to fully represent all grade levels. The committee also includes people representing special education, gifted, Honors, Advanced Placement, etc., who separate into smaller groups that target specific grade ranges and specialty areas.
The textbook review and adoption process rotates subject areas annually until it covers all seven curriculum areas. This year the textbooks being considered are for reading. Last year social studies texts were adopted, and the year before that mathematics texts were adopted.

The reading adoption process began last summer with the State Department of Education selecting its statewide committee, which looked through samples from textbook publishers and sent school districts a catalog of approved textbook vendors from which to choose.  From that list, St. Tammany Parish Public School officials picked four textbook publishers to provide sample materials for local review.
This year’s adoption committee met in December for a preliminary meeting and received sample textbooks from each publisher participating in the adoption. Books are scrutinized using a set of criteria partly developed by the State and partly developed by the School System to make sure the texts are compatible with local requirements. “We use additional criteria based on our local curriculum directives and goals,” said Sharp.
Public input on textbook selection is possible through email, phone or letter. To give members of the public a chance to look over the proposed textbooks, the books will be on display at two locations in the Parish, one in Slidell and the other in Covington.

Persons interested in seeing the proposed textbooks may view them from Wednesday, January 16, 2008, through Wednesday, January 30, 2008, at the Educational Center in Covington at 71460 Edna Street and the Robert Boulevard Branch of the St. Tammany Parish Library System in Slidell at 555 Robert Blvd.  The time for viewing is from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
St. Tammany will wrap up its review and selection process in late February with two days of concentrated final review of all the proposed textbooks.  On the first day, discussion of the books will be broken down by grade level and disciplines to ensure all aspects of the books are considered, and to ensure compatibility with curriculums. On the second day, the committee meets with representatives from the publishers to hear their presentations and ask specific questions about the textbooks. At this time, committee members can evaluate the “teachability” of the books.

For continuity from grade to grade, the committee adopts one textbook publisher for grades one through sixth, and, as possible, for the higher grades as well.  The announcement of the reading textbook adoption is expected February 25, 2008.


New Program Is Helping High School Students Recover Credits


A new program to help high school students recapture course credits has been implemented in St. Tammany Parish Public Schools this semester. The program offers online computer lessons, supervised by teachers, that gives students a chance to catch up by studying and taking tests on course material they failed in their first attempt in the course. 

Dr. Regina Sanford, Secondary Supervisor, explained that the web-based computer-assisted instruction will be supervised by certified teachers assigned to the new program, both during school hours and in special after-school sessions when needed. Teachers involved in the program underwent special training in December.

The School System received a $150,000 grant from the State Department of Education recently to help pay for the software, the implementation of the program in high schools, and staff developement.

This new option will allow students to recapture credits without having to take the course over again in the traditional sense, Dr. Sanford said. “Students will be able to fill in some deficiencies and stay on schedule. The course is individualized so they can work at their own pace, and they are tested at the end of each program, with the computer software handling some of the testing and the supervising teacher handling the remainder of the testing.” Students must prove proficiency in the subject matter to pass the course and recapture the credit.

 Dr. Sanford gives an example of a student who may have failed English I and Algebra I in the first semester; and, instead of the student using two time blocks in the second semester to repeat those two courses, he could take part in the new credit recovery online program and possibly gain both credits in one time period during the second semester.

The program is already in place at all seven public high schools, and students are currently being registered for the online work.  A credit recovery program is one of the key recommendations made by the State Department of Education High School Redesign Commission to help students receive their diplomas without lengthening the time they attend high school.


Hurricane Katrina News Archives: 2005 - Page 2