Louisiana's best teacher and principal for 2018 announced; WBR teacher wins Teacher of the Year

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana Department of Education announced on Friday night the 2018 Louisiana State Teacher and Principal of the Year.

Kimberly Eckert, of Brusly High School in West Baton Rouge Parish, was named the 2018 State Teacher of the Year, and Thomas Byler, of North Vermilion High School in Vermilion Parish, was named the 2018 State Principal of the Year.

In addition, the department also recognized six grade-level teachers and administrators at the sold-out 11th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala. They are:


  • Elementary: Rosemary Grimm, Princeton Elementary (Bossier)
  • Middle: Marcy Mahler, Sixth Ward Middle (Lafourche)
  • High: Angelina Drago, Hammond High Magnet (Tangipahoa)


  • Elementary: Cleo Perry Jr., Crestworth Elementary (East Baton Rouge)
  • Middle: Bobbye Delaney, South Cameron High (Cameron)
  • High: David Gray, Union High (Union)

Eckert has been teaching for nine years. She is currently an English I teacher, but has also served as a special education inclusion teacher, a reading interventionist, a speech teacher, a mentor teacher, a master teacher, and an instructional coach.

Through those roles, Eckert has earned numerous accolades including the regional Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (LACUE) Teacher of the Year, twice. First in 2012-2013 for regional middle schools and most recently in 2016 for regional high schools.

In addition to her teaching awards, Eckert has secured several grants to further educational initiatives, presented at local and state conferences, and has had her work on integrating technology for struggling learners in a flipped classroom, which was featured in LACUE publications and her students' work  has been showcased on WAFB on multiple occasions.

Byler has held various leadership positions during his 26-year career in education. Under his leadership, North Vermilion High has remained an A-rated school, and the school's performance score has increased from a 92.9 to 119.0 over three years.

Prior to taking the helm as principal, Byler served as the school's assistant principal, athletic director and head football coach.

In addition to his classroom and leadership experience, he has held active roles in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and the Louisiana Association of Student Councils.

The 2018 Teacher of the Year finalists represent various subject areas, including Math, English Language Arts and Arts Integration, Special Education, Agriscience, and Career and Technical Education. Eleven of the 48 honorees are male.

John Underwood of East Baton Rouge Parish was one of the semi-finalists for Teacher of the Year, while Lakesha Reese-Penn from Baker, and Laree Taylor from West Baton Rouge were named semi-finalists for Principal of the Year.

To read more about the overall winners and a full list of winners, finalists, and semi-finalists, click here.

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