BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Teacher and Principal of the Year for 2017 were announced Friday night at the 10th annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration.
Joni Smith is the 2017 Teacher of the Year. She is a 7th grade teacher at Albany Middle School in Livingston Parish. Her students rank first in Livingston Parish and fourth in the state for their scores in Life Science. Smith encourages her students to be leaders in the community and to actively serve those in need. Smith was awarded a one-year lease on a new Mercedes, courtesy of Mecedes-Benz of Baton Rouge.
Sedric Clark was presented the award for the 2017 Principal of the Year. He is the principal of Mansfield High School in DeSoto Parish. In his six years at the school, the graduation rate has increased from 66% to 96% and the school has bumped its grade up from a D to a B. Clark says the success of the school comes from a team effort. Mansfield High has been recognized as a Top Gains School for 2015 and TAP Founders Award Finalist in 2016.
"The educators honored tonight are a fine representation of the high-caliber professionals we are fortunate to have in Louisiana schools. This is a chance to celebrate the profession of teaching, a chance to recommit to the effort of ensuring our teachers have what they need to do their job well. It's a chance to recognize our state's educators not only for their dedication to their students and their profession, but also for their demonstrated ability to educate and inspire their students through meaningful and effective learning experiences," said state superintendent, John White.
The 2017 Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers and Principals of the Year winner were also announced Friday night. The 2017 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Amber Beach of Princeton Elementary in Bossier Parish; the 2017 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Anna Tarver of Gilbert Junior High School in Franklin Parish; and the 2017 High School Teacher of the Year is Torrence Williams of West Feliciana Parish High School in West Feliciana Parish.
The 2017 Elementary School Principal of the Year in Elizabeth Cook of Cypress Point University Elementary School of Monroe City Schools; the 2017 Middle School Principal of the Year is Kenny Delcambre of Sixth Ward Middle School in Lafourche Parish; and the 2017 High School Principal of the Year is Joey LaRoche of KIPP Renaissance High School of KIPP New Orleans Schools.
"Great teachers and principals open the door for our children to achieve their dreams. Celebrating the efforts of Louisiana's outstanding educators through the Teacher and Principal of the Year program is just a small way of acknowledging the exceptional work and long hours these individuals put in every day to prepare our students for their future. This year's finalists represent the top of our profession in our state, and on behalf of BESE I wish to thank them for their commitment and congratulate them on the honor," said Dr. Holly Boffy, vice president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary and the 2010 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year.
Darrell Fairburn of Washington Parish was also honored as the Louisiana Association of School Executive's Superintendent of the Year. Fairburn was been in this position for 10 years and in that time, he has improved the district's letter grade to a B, had increased graduation rates 5.8% over the last five years, and has increased the percentage of students performing at Mastery on state tests by 12% from 2013 to 2015. Before his work in Washington Parish, Fairburn worked at Sumner High School in Tangipahoa Parish for 17 years as principal and coached track and basketball.
The presenting sponsor for the event was Dream Teachers, a non-profit organization founded in 2006 committed to recognizing Louisiana's best educators and leaders in order to encourage educational excellence.