School leaders, parents excited for year ahead

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With another school year starting, there is a lot of positive chatter going on even though Louisiana comes in 47th nationally in the latest public school rankings. Some local superintendents are bullish on public schools and so is at least one Baton Rouge family.

Ready to start the new school year, the Bell family said East Baton Rouge schools are hitting all the right notes.

"I'm very excited," said Earl Bell. "I'm looking forward to a positive year, children going back to school with smiling faces."

Bell and his wife Margaret have four children attending EBR public schools. One of those schools is walking distance from their home on Gus Young Avenue: Capitol Elementary.

Another one of their kids goes to Tara High School, where new Supt. Warren Drake once served as principal.

"I think it's going to be a great year," said Drake, superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish schools. "We have really some of the finest programs and some of the finest schools in the nation here in East Baton Rouge Parish."

Drake's enthusiasm is radiating with parents like the Bells and with his colleagues. That was easy to see in June at his first school board meeting as superintendent. Drake's positive energy is also being noticed outside the district.

"The future could not be brighter," said Hollis Milton, superintendent of West Feliciana Parish schools. Agreeing with Drake, Supt Milton said it is a great time to attend public schools.

But, as president of the state superintendent association, Milton said school leaders and parents must attack what he calls "generational poverty." He said it is the concept that children won't be excited about school if they don't have parents or grandparents leading by example, family who achieved success through education.

Drake said EBR schools will do their part to keep children motivated.

"We're all on one team. We all have one mission and that is to educate our children," said Drake.

And as for the Bell parents, they say they're doing their part too by teaching their children to shoot for the stars.

"I also have a 9 year old. She wants to be the family doctor," said Margaret Bell.

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