January 2024

BOARD ELECTS NEW LEADERSHIP, FILLS DISTRICT 2 VACANCY

The Livingston Parish School Board, at its Jan. 11 meeting, elected a new board president and vice president and appointed an interim board member to the district 2 board seat.

The board unanimously elected District 9 Board Member Steve Link of Albany as its president. Link is serving in his first term as a school board member.  He is a former teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the district.  Link holds a bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU) in Hammond, a master’s degree from Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., and a 30+ Education Certification from SLU.

The board also unanimously elected District 3 Board Member Jeff Frizell of Denham Springs as its Vice President. Frizell is in his first term as a board member. He is a former teacher, coach, school administrator and central office supervisor in the district. Frizell currently works as administrator of the Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic, which has offices in Denham Springs, Hammond, and Amite. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

Stacy Robinson, a former assistant principal at Live Oak High School, will serve as the board member for District 2, which represents the Live Oak School District.  Robinson fills the seat that was vacated by Kellee Hennessy Dickerson, who was elected State Representative for District 64 in the November 2023 general election. Robinson will occupy the seat until an election can be held to fill the seat. Gov. Jeff Landry is expected to call that election for November 5, 2024.

 

DISTRICT NAMES STUDENT OF THE YEAR WINNERS

Livingston Parish Public Schools has announced those top student winners for the 2023-2024 school year.

The Elementary Student of the Year is Kendall Marie Vaughan, a fifth grader at South Fork Elementary; the Middle School Student of the Year is Hudson Graham, an eighth grader at Walker Junior High School; and the High School Student of the Year is Caszandra Joy Dante, a senior at Walker High School.

The winners were nominated by their schools, and they competed against other Students of the Year from throughout the district.  As representatives for Livingston Parish Public Schools, they will compete at the state’s regional competition for the opportunity to become a finalist for the Louisiana Department of Education’s top award.

These students will be formally recognized at the district’s celebration of excellence gala in the spring.

 

TOP EMPLOYEES OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED

Livingston Parish Public Schools has announced the winners of the district’s Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year and Staff Worker of the Year awards for the 2023-2024 school year.

The Principal of the Year winners are Elementary Principal of the Year Ginger Bishop, Northside Elementary School; Middle School Principal of the Year David Clark, Walker Junior High; and High School Principal of the Year Beth Jones, Live Oak High School.

North Corbin Junior High Secretary Ashely Guzzardo has been named the district’s 2023-2024 Support Worker of the Year.

Those Teacher of the Year winners are Elementary Teacher of the Year Jessica Edwards, Southside Elementary; Middle School Teacher of the Year Amanda Brian, Denham Springs Junior High; High School Teacher of the Year Anna Harrison, Live Oak High School; and New Teacher of the Year Skyler Champlin, Springfield High School.

 

The top winners for Livingston Parish Public Schools were selected from a long list of nominees submitted by each school in the district. They will advance to the state’s regional competition in their respective categories to vie for the opportunity to become a finalist for the Louisiana Department of Education’s top award.

The winners were given engraved awards, adorned with a decorative glass apple, as well as banners to display in their schools. They will be officially recognized at a district-wide celebration in the spring.

Cecil Harris, District 5

  • Appointed to interim position in January 2020, elected twice without opposition (2020 special election, 2023 primary election);
  • Served as LPPS Board President, 2022-2023;
  • Former owner and manager of Pinnacle Education, an education publishing company; previously worked for several educational textbook and computer companies;
  • Graduate of Denham Springs High School and DSHS Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee. He is the only three-sport first-team All-State athlete in the school’s history (basketball, baseball, and track);
  • Holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La.;
  • Four-year starter for the SLU Varsity Basketball Team;
  • He taught and coached in LPPS District for three years before moving to a supervisor role with the Louisiana Department of Education’s Health and Physical Education division;
  • Married to Margaret Devall Harris for 51 years;
  • Father to three sons, Jeffrey, Jeromy, and Matthew, and eight grandchildren;
  • The Harris Family are members of Hebron Baptist Church in Denham Springs.

“It continues to be my goal to provide the best resources possible to educate our children. That is the bottom line of this job.”

 

 

December 2023

NATIONAL FIRM PERFORMING COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF DISTRICT’S ORGANIZATIONAL AND SALARY STRUCTURE

Livingston Parish Public Schools has contracted with LEAN Frog Business Solution, Inc., to perform an independent review of the district’s organizational structure and current salary schedule to gain greater direction in enhancing the district’s effectiveness, sustainability, and success at all levels.

The firm is expected to present a report on its assessments early next year.

LEAN Frog is a nationally recognized expert in providing operational and programmatic assessments of educational organizations. The firm’s professional team has collaborated with nearly 160 school districts across the Southeast United States, as well as state departments of education in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

“This is a very tedious, painstaking task they are undertaking,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said. “The hired professionals are reviewing our system structure, they have interviewed our administrators and campus leaders for greater insight, and they are providing us with comparisons to our peer school systems.”

Murphy said the contract calls for LEAN Frog to review the district’s Central Office functions, analyze the district’s current salary schedules for positions, identify cost saving measures through improvements in organizational and operational efficacy, and provide a roadmap to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the district organizational and compensation structure.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH SCHOOL HOSTS AVID SHOWCASE

Springfield High School Principal Jillian Dupuy, standing far right, presents the successes of her school’s experience with the AVID program during a showcase sponsored by AVID in November.  Attending the presentation were school administrators and teachers from New Orleans charter schools and the Livingston, East Baton Rouge, and Jackson parish school systems.

School administrators and teachers from New Orleans charter schools and the Livingston, East Baton Rouge, and Jackson parish school systems visited Springfield High School in November to learn about its campus-wide AVID learning initiative.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and it is an in-school academic support program designed to instill those skills necessary for eligibility and success in higher education. The AVID Showcase at Springfield High School (SHS) is the first sponsored by the AVID program in Louisiana.

“This program is aimed at students who have the desire and willingness to work for academic success, but they may not have the skills they need to flourish scholastically. Many of the students who participate in AVID are from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education or they will be the first in their families to attend college,” SHS Principal Jillian Dupuy said.

Dupuy said the program targets those B/C students who have 2.0-3.5 GPAs who exhibit a willingness to achieve. They may be low-income and come from families that do not have a college background.

SHS first implemented an AVID elective course last school year for freshman. Those students were required to take at least one Advanced Placement or Honors Course during the year as part of the program.

“Our AVID students collectively improved their GPAs to an average of 3.51 by the end of the fall semester, and then they jumped to a 3.76 GPA average by the end of their freshman year,” Dupuy said.

The program was expanded this year to include a tenth-grade elective course. The school plans to add an eleventh-grade AVID elective class next year and another for twelfth-grade students by the 2025-2026 school year.

 

JUBAN PARC ELEMENTARY CELEBRATES DESIGNATION AS NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL

Juban Parc Elementary fifth graders, pictured left to right, Tatum Burns, Emma Kruszynsky, Thomas Ewing and Ezra Bourg carry the school’s Blue Ribbon banner during the school parade as parents, school leaders and community guests lined along the hallway.

Parents and school leaders enjoyed a festive environment at Juban Parc Elementary School on Nov. 30 as the school celebrated its designation as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Students and staff paraded through the school’s hallways, carrying banners, shakers, and balloons, and marching to a loud rhythmic beat provided by the Denham Springs High School drum line.

“This is a great day for our school community. It’s an opportunity to celebrate much hard work and accomplishment for our school,” said Juban Parc Elementary Principal Lauren Kennedy.

The Louisiana Department of Education lists Juban Parc Elementary as an “A-rated” school with a 94.7 School Performance Score, according to the state’s 2023 accountability report. At the same time, the state has given the school a Progress Index score of 106, which recognizes the school’s success in closing the achievement among all its students.

A total of 313 schools were honored this year nationwide. Juban Parc Elementary is one of nine schools in Louisiana named as a 2023 National Blue Ribbon School.

Livingston Parish School leaders and administrators with Juban Parc Elementary School traveled to Washington D.C. earlier in November to attend a special National Blue Ribbon reception.

 

Jeff Frizell, District 3

  • Newly elected to office, began serving in January 2023
  • More than 20 years of experience in Livingston Parish Public Schools as a teacher, coach school administrator and central office supervisor
  • Currently the Practice Administrator for the Bond-Wroten Eye Cinic, which has offices in Denham Springs, Hammond, and Amite
  • Recipient of the 2015 Louisiana School of Executives Educational Leadership Award, the 2017 Livingston Parish Principal of the Year, and a 2017 Louisiana Principal of the Year semifinalist
  • A graduate of Denham Springs High School who earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and master’s degree in education leadership from Southeastern Louisiana University
  • Married to Amy Feucht Frizell, who teaches at Northside Elementary
  • Father to Mallory (20), a graduate of Denham Springs High School and student at Southeastern Louisiana University, and Ava (15) a student at Denham Springs Freshman High School
  • The Frizell Family attends Immaculate Conception Church in Denham Springs

“Never let the fear of striking out get in the your way.” -Babe Ruth

November 2023

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS IMPROVES DISTRICT PERFORMANCE SCORE

Livingston Parish Public Schools improved its overall District Performance Score by nearly one point, inching the district closer to an A Rating, according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s latest accountability report.

The district score climbed from 88.5 points in 2022 to 89.4 points in 2023 – just 0.6 points shy of the state’s threshold for an A Rating.  That score continues to rank Livingston Parish Schools at No. 11 in the state, positioning it as the highest B-ranking district in the state.

“Our district continues to demonstrate a high level of achievement across the board. I want to congratulate our teachers and staff and our students on their hard work and commitment to grow and learn despite many challenges that still exist in our system,” Superintendent Joe Murphy said.

Livingston Schools saw the greatest gains in the 2022-2023 comparison among high school indicators with the strength of diploma score jumping up 5.5 points, from 116.7 to 122.2 points; its ACT index growing by 3.5 points, from 79.9 points to 83.4 points; and in its graduate rate index, improving by 3 points, from 100.5 to 103.5 points.

Half of all the district’s 44 campuses increased their School Performance Scores, while four schools went up a letter grade.  The district now boasts of 10 A-rated schools, 27 B-rated schools, and 7 C-rated schools.

 

 

LOCAL SCHOOLS EARN “A” RATINGS, RECOGNITION FOR STUDENT PROGRESS

According to the Louisiana Department of Education’s latest accountability report, Livingston Parish has 10 schools that have earned an “A” rating. Those schools include Live Oak High School (116.3), Walker High School (101.3), French Settlement High School (100.5), Denham Springs High School (99.6), Springfield High School (98.3), North Live Oak Elementary School (95.0), Juban Parc Elementary (94.7), Holden High School (94.6), Freshwater Elementary (92.6), and Eastside Elementary (91.0).

Springfield Elementary and Walker High School showed the greatest growth, improving their School Performance Scores by 5.9 points and 5.7 points, respectively.

Twenty-four schools earned recognition as Top Gains and/or Opportunity honorees – 21 schools received “Top Gains” honors; 11 received “Opportunity” honors; and 8 received both.  The “Top Gains” designation is awarded to schools from the Louisiana Department of Education that demonstrate excellence in student progress from one year to the next.  A school is designated as “Top Gains” if the progress index is 90 or higher and they are not in Urgent Intervention Required for any reason. The “Opportunity” honorees perform in the 90th percentile or above for students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students or English learners, and do not earn any Urgent Intervention Required labels for student groups and/or discipline.

 

 

CULINARY STUDENTS COMPETE IN COOK-OFF

Pictured are members of the Denham Springs High School culinary team who won first place in the LPPS Culinary Cook-Off competition for their Tex-Mex Chicken Macaroni & Cheese dish. Their winning dish will be featured on the Curbside Café menu next semester. The team also won a cutlery set and $500 to purchase supplies for the culinary classroom. Pictured from left to right are Judith Ayala, Kaitlyn Ibarra, Ja’miracle Rose, Aaron Ramsey, and DSHS ProStart Instructor Jamie Manotas.

Livingston Parish Schools recently hosted a Culinary Cook-off for five high school culinary teams who competed to have their dish featured as a menu item for the district’s mobile Curbside Café.

Those high schools competing were Albany High School, Denham Springs High School, French Settlement High School, Live Oak High School, and Springfield High School. The competition was held Nov. 7 at the district’s Professional Development Center in Satsuma and was sponsored by the district’s Child Nutrition Department. Tyson Foods donated the prizes for the winners and the chicken ingredients for some of the dishes.

The Denham Springs High School culinary team won the competition with its Tex-Mex Chicken Macaroni & Cheese dish. Albany High School earned second place for its Chicken Fajita Sliders. French Settlement High School received third place for its Chicken Quesadillas.

The winning dish will be included on the Curbside Café menu next semester. The winning culinary team also won a cutlery set and $500 to purchase kitchen utensils and supplies for the team’s classroom. The second-place team received a cutlery set and the third-place team won a plating utensil set.

 

DENHAM SPRINGS ELEMENTARY HOSTS STEM DAY

Denham Springs Elementary students Tucker Chalette and Easton Jarrell demonstrate their coding abilities using robotic Legos to LPPS Supervisor of Assessment and Accountability Kelly LaBauve during DSE STEM Day.

Students at Denham Springs Elementary recently enjoyed a day of hands-on activities and games in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math as part of the school’s effort to create greater awareness and learning of STEM concepts.

“Hands-on STEM programs and activities do more than teach science and mathematics concepts, they help our students discover applications and spark their creativity,” said Denham Springs Elementary Principal Bridget Castille.

She said the teachers on her campus include STEM concepts and learning activities in their daily lessons, but they felt a school day dedicated to the subject would be a fun way to help emphasize the importance of the subject matter.

Castille noted that STEM education looks different for elementary students than it does for college, high school, or even middle school students.

While elementary students might work on simple engineering design projects, the main goal is not to prepare them to become professional engineers, although more students may become interested in those careers as a result. Rather, an elementary STEM curriculum aims to help students develop basic skills that apply to many parts of life, not just technology and engineering careers.

“STEM projects provide unique opportunities for students to practice critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, among other skills,” she said. “STEM is intended to give students a solid foundation for future learning,” Castille said.

 

Dr. Ron McMorris, District 8

  • Newly elected to office, began serving in January 2023
  • Chairman of Athletic Staff and Medical Committee, member of Plant Site Committee, Cost Savings Initiative Committee
  • Owner of Elite Chiropractic Sports and Nutrition Clinics in Walker, Livingston and Albany
  • Licensed Chiropractor concentrating in brain injuries and sport medicine
  • Earned a Doctor of Chiropractic from the Texas Chiropractic College in Pasadena, Texas
  • Former member of Board of Regents for the Texas Chiropractic College and Chiropractic Association of Louisiana
  • Member of Colyell Baptist Church
  • Graduate of Doyle High School and Southeastern Louisiana University, kinesiology and athletic training
  • Married to Karen McMorris of Walker, Father to Jules McMorris, third grader in Livingston Parish Schools

 

 

“Go not where others have gone. Go ye instead and blaze your own trail.”

 

October 2023

ALBANY HIGH STUDENT RECEIVES NATIONAL RURAL AND SMALL-TOWN AWARD

Michael Kober is Albany High’s first student to earn the National Rural and Small-Town Award for his academic achievements.

Albany High School student Michael Kober has been awarded the National Rural and Small-Town Award by the College Board National Recognition Program.

Kober, a 16-year-old junior at Albany High School, became the school’s first recipient of the recognition program.  Recipients of the award must have taken and performed well on the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10 or AP Exams.  Kober scored 1410 on the SAT and 35 on the ACT, both first-attempt scores.

Kober is the section leader for percussion in the Albany High School Band.  He enjoys composing music and playing drums and piano.  He also enjoys playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends, spending time with family and playing video games. Kober said he plans to attend college and pursue a career in medicine.

 

STATE SUPPLEMENTAL PAY AWARDED TO DISTRICT EMPLOYEES ON OCT. 12

Employees across the district received a one-time pay increase this month as a result of state legislative action taken during the 2023 Regular Session.

All certified, full-time employees received a $2,000 lump sum payment in a local supplemental paycheck on Oct. 12, while non-certified, full-time employees received a $1,000 payment on that day.

Superintendent Joe Murphy said the district plans to issue a local supplemental paycheck on May 3, 2024, which matches the state’s one-time gift — $2,000 for certified, full-time employees and $1,000 for non-certified, full-time employees.

 

SPRINGFIELD HIGH HOSTS GIRL-POWERED STEM WORKSHOP

Springfield High School’s Bulldog Bytes Team Member Nathan Gordon, front center, allows one of the guest students to drive his team’s robots during a demonstration on robotics for the Girl Powered Workshop.

“Calling All Girls!” That is the cry of industries across our state and nation that have a need to fill careers based in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning.

To help answer that call, Springfield High School recently hosted its first “Girl Powered Workshop” to inform young women and members of the community at-large about available STEM and robotics opportunities.

Currently women make up half the total college-educated workforce, but they fill only 30 percent of STEM jobs. For black and Latina women in STEM, that number reduces drastically, to only 2 percent.

“Education can play a significant role in helping to bridge gender equity gaps,” said LPPS Instructional Technology Facilitator and STEAM Express Director Jolie Gregoire. “The key to STEM learning is making it meaningful, putting it in context or real-world issues.”

SHS Teacher and Robotics Sponsor Yvette Hill, along with members of the Bulldog Bytes team, sponsored the event. Lanie Bauduoin of Gainey’s Concrete Products, a locally owned business, presented a short talk on understanding STEM career opportunities, and members of the Bulldog Bytes Robotics Team demonstrated their various robotics projects.

 

Bradley Harris, District 4

  • Currently serving his second term as an elected school board member
  • Industrial Sales and Services Representative for JM Test Systems, Inc., of Baton Rouge
  • Certified in industrial safety and security procedures
  • Earned Bachelor of Science Degree in industrial management technology and a Master of Business degree from SLU in Hammond
  • Graduate of Denham Springs High School; member of the DSHS Athletic Hall of Fame
  • Deacon and Teacher at First Baptist Church of Denham Springs
  • Married to Luwana O’Neal Harris for 35 years
  • Father to Zachary, graduate and former varsity football player of Brown University, and Alex, a junior in mechanical engineering at LSU.

“I have been honored to work on projects to move our school system forward; and I’m especially proud of the new school and athletic facilities we have been able to deliver to the Denham Springs community,” Harris said. “I remain committed to doing what’s right for our children, for our employees, and for our community overall.”  -Bradley Harris

 

 

September 2023

WALKER HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR NAMED NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP SEMIFINALIST

Walker High School Senior Caszandra Joy T. Dantea named a National Merit Semifinalist.

Walker High School Senior Caszandra Joy T. Dantea has been named a National Merit semifinalist.

She is among 199 high school seniors in Louisiana who were selected for the honor.  Those state winners are among the 16,000 semifinalists named across the nation for the 2024 class.  The semifinalists are now eligible to compete for National Merit scholarships valued at nearly $28 million.  Those winners will be announced in the spring.

The 199 Louisiana semifinalists are the students who scored the highest in the state during the 2021 administration of the PSAT, a preliminary test to the well-known SAT college placement exam.

 

JUBAN PARC ELEMENTARY NAMED NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL

Juban Parc Elementary has been awarded the distinction of being a National Blue Ribbon School, one of the nation’s highest school honors.

Juban Parc Elementary is one of only nine Louisiana schools selected this year for the honor.  The others include St. Joseph’s Academy and St. Luke’s Episcopal in Baton Rouge, A.E. Phillips Lab School in Ruston, Archbishop Hannan High in Covington, Boley Elementary School in West Monroe, Broadmoor Elementary in Houma, Caddo Parish Middle Magnet School in Shreveport, and N.S.U. Elementary Lab School in Natchitoches.

“We are so thrilled and proud of our students and our incredible educators who have worked so hard to make a difference,” said Lauren Kennedy, principal of Juban Parc Elementary.

“This award recognizes our school for closing the achievement gap among all subgroups,” she said. “To help us do that, we have instituted community connection events that empower our students to connect with other students and with the community we live in. We are growing our students inside and outside the classroom.”

Public schools that earn Blue Ribbon awards are first nominated by their respective states; applications are submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration. Private schools are recommended by the Council of American Private Education.

Public schools can earn their ribbons in two ways: if they are among the top-performing schools in their respective states, or if they have shown substantial progress in closing the achievement gap between all students and historically low-performing subsets of students, such as racial minorities and those living in poverty.

Some of the staff and students at Juban Parc Elementary celebrated “turning blue” to recognize their school becoming a National Blue Ribbon School. Others wore blue ribbons pinned to their shirts.

 

 

EIGHT PARISH HIGH SCHOOLS IN STATE’S TOP 100

The U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best high schools in Louisiana has listed eight of the parish’s nine high schools in the Top 100.

The 2023-2024 report ranks schools whose students demonstrate outstanding outcomes above expectations in math, reading and science state assessments, earn qualifying scores in an array of college-level exams, and graduate in high proportions.

The rankings for all Livingston Parish high schools are:

  • Holden High School – ranked #15, scoring a 35.9 college readiness ranking and an 88% graduation rate (180 enrollment in grades 9-12)
  • Live Oak High School – ranked #20, scoring a 35.2 college readiness ranking and a 95% graduation rate (1402 enrollment in grades 9-12)
  • Springfield High School – ranked #45, scoring a 20.7 college readiness ranking and a 90% graduation rate (398 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • French Settlement High School – ranked #56, scoring a 31.2 college readiness ranking and a 93% graduation rate (293 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Denham Springs High School – ranked #66, scoring a 20.4 college readiness ranking and a 92% graduation rate (1617 enrollment in grades 10-12)
  • Maurepas High School – ranked #74, scoring a 20.7 college readiness ranking and an 84% graduation rate (108 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Walker High School – ranked #75, scoring a 17.5 college readiness ranking and an 89% graduation rate (1998 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Albany High School – ranked #86, scoring a 25.3 college readiness ranking and an 89% graduation rate (599 enrolled in grades 9-12)
  • Doyle High School – ranked #105, scoring an 18.3 college readiness ranking and an 87% graduation rate (382 enrolled in grades 9-12)

 

Stephen Link

Stephen Link, District 9

  • Inducted to the school board in January 2023
  • Serves on Budget & Goals and Transportation Committees, and Chairs Curriculum & Policy Committee
  • Resident of Albany
  • Former Teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal in LPPS
  • Earned Bachelor of Arts Degree from SLU in Hammond, Masters Degree from University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, and 30+ Education Certification from SLU in Hammond
  • Graduate of Hammond High School
  • Married to Michele Link, retired teacher/instructional coach at Albany Lower Elementary
  • Father to Sarah Link Williams and Logan Link, both graduates of Albany High School; grandfather of Balen Williams (5 years).

“I am working to increase parent participation in our Albany Schools. I will find creative ways to involve the community in our Albany Schools, and I will be the District 9 advocate for capital investments in our schools’ infrastructure.”

 

 

August 2023

ALBANY TEACHER NAMED LOUISIANA’S NEW TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Phoenix Morel LeBlanc, Louisiana New Teacher of the Year

Albany Middle School’s Phoenix Morel LeBlanc has been named the Louisiana New Teacher of the Year winner.

LeBlance was selected from a field of 9 first-year teachers from across the state. The award was presented during the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala, which was held at the WWII Museum in New Orleans on July 22.  Albany Lower Elementary Teacher Payton O’Nellion was also a finalist in the competition.

“We are excited and proud of Ms. Phoenix for receiving this amazing accolade. Her professionalism, content mastery, work ethic and genuine concern for the academic, social, and behavioral growth and success of all students has made her a deserving recipient of this award,” Albany Middle School Principal John Hill said.

LeBlanc teaches 7th grade science at Albany Middle School. She is also the head cheerleading coach and sponsor of the Albany Middle School science club. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University.

As the state’s “New Teacher of the Year,” LeBlanc will serve on a state committee to help train new educators, as well as attend professional learning modules and affinity groups that provide guidance in classroom management, standards and curriculum, and other education challenges.

Pictured at the statewide LDOE Excellence Awards Gala in New Orleans in July, from left to right, are Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy, Louisiana New Teacher of the Year Phoenix Morel LeBlanc, Livingston Parish School Board Member Steven Link, and New Teacher of the Year Finalist Payton O’Nellion.

 

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH SCHOOLS EARN TOP 10 RANKING

Livingston Parish Public Schools earned a Top 10 ranking statewide for the percentage of students in Grades 3-8 and high school who scored Mastery or Advanced on the LEAP 2025 Assessment, based on results from the 2022-2023 school year, which were released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

Overall, 41 percent of all students in Livingston Parish scored Mastery or Advanced on the assessment, which is the state’s standard tool for measuring proficiency in English/Language Arts (ELA), math, science and social studies for grades 3-12.  The district’s overall score far outpaces the state’s average of 33 percent of students scoring Mastery or Advanced.

The Louisiana Department of Education reports student scores on five levels: Unsatisfactory, Approaching Basic, Basic, Mastery, or Advanced. Students scoring Mastery and Advanced are considered proficient, or ready for the next grade level.

The 41 percent of students who scored Mastery or Advanced is the same overall score earned by the district on last year’s assessment. However, this year’s report shows nearly half of the district’s schools receiving scores, 19 of 42, grew 1 to 6 percentage points for students scoring Mastery or Advanced.

 

 

BREAKDOWN OF SCORES SHOWS DISTRICT OUTPACED THE STATE AVERAGE IN EVERY CATEGORY

Kelly LaBauve, supervisor of assessment and accountability, said a breakdown of Livingston Parish’s LEAP scores by subject area shows that 53% of Livingston Parish students scored Mastery or Advanced in ELA; 39% scored Mastery or Advanced in math; 37% scored at those levels in science; and 34% scored at the top two levels in social studies.

She said 20 of Livingston Parish’s schools grew their percentages of Mastery and Advanced scores 1 to 12 percent in ELA. Nineteen schools grew their percentage of Mastery and Advanced scores 1 to 9 percent in science; 18 grew their percentages in those top categories by 1 to 8 percent in social studies, and 17 schools grew their percentage of Mastery and Advanced scores by 1 to 11 percent in math.

LaBauve noted that while the percentages of Mastery and Advanced scores are lower overall in science and social studies, they rank high statewide, 9th and 10th place, respectively.

 

FREE MEALS CONTINUED FOR ALL STUDENTS

Livingston Parish School System leaders recently elected to continue the district’s participation in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Program that allows all student meals to continue to be served for free for the 2023-2024 school year.

Director of School Food Services Sommer Purvis estimates the average cost per year for a student to eat breakfast and lunch is approximately $1,200 per student.

“The cost of food has become a growing hardship in our current economy. The CEP program allows us to take away some of that burden for our families during the school year,” Purvis said.

The CEP program is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it makes available free meal services without the necessity of household meal applications.

Purvis said the district has participated in the CEP program since 2016, following the flood that severely damaged more than 70 percent of residences, schools, churches, and businesses in the parish. CEP reimburses the district for food costs based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals according to their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

 

Katelyn Lockhart Cockerham, District 7

  • Inducted to the school board in January 2023
  • Serves on the Transportation, Curriculum & Policy and Cost Savings Committees
  • Resident of Walker
  • Senior Development Manager for the American Cancer Society
  • Studied business and marketing at LSU
  • Graduate of Walker High School
  • Married to Logan Cockerham, compliance supervisor with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
  • Mother to Nolan (7), Mary Catherine (4) and Stella (2). Nolan attends North Corbin Elementary

“Increasing transparency, being visible on the campuses of District 7, and being active within my community are what pushed me to run for this position. Serving on this board for the teachers and students of Livingston Parish is one of my life’s greatest honors.”

Katelyn Lockhart Cockerham

 

July 2023

DISTRICT REPORTS ON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

The following construction projects are currently underway or in the planning phase:

Albany Upper/Lower Elem New Cafeteria & Classrooms
Status: In Design
Contractor: Gasaway, Gasaway, Bankston
Budget: $7,200,000
Targeted Bid Date: October 2023
Targeted Completion: May 2025

Holden High School students will be welcomed to their campus by a newly renovated Industrial Arts Building and new classrooms for welding and carpentry.

 

Holden High School Industrial Arts Building Renovation & Classrooms
Status: In Construction
Contractor: Ziler Architects
Budget: $1.6 million
Targeted Completion: August 2023

The new French Settlement High School fieldhouse is being constructed on the site of the baseball and softball complex

 

 

 

 

French Settlement High School Fieldhouse
Status: In Construction
Contractor: McLin Construction
Budget: $873,300
Targeted Completion: November 2023

 

Students at FSHS will be able to enjoy the natural setting of their campus this schoolyear thanks to a newly constructed outdoor classroom.

French Settlement High School  Office Renovations
Status: In Construction
Contractor: McLin Construction
Budget: $160,000
Targeted Completion: August 2023

 

French Settlement High School Outdoor Classroom
Status: Completed
Contractor: McLin Construction
Budget: $82,000

 

 

Live Oak Jr High School New Gymnasium
Status: In Design
Contractor: Gasaway, Gasaway, Bankston
Budget: $5,600,000
Targeted Bid Date: September 2023
Targeted Completion: November 2024

Live Oak High School Football Field Artificial Turf & Track Replacement and
Live Oak Jr High School Football Field Artificial Turf Conversion
Status: In Construction
Designer: Simpson Sports Engineering
Contractor: Gasaway, Gasaway, Bankston
Budget: $2,626,000
Targeted Completion: July 2023

Live Oak High School STEM Facilities
Status: In Construction
Contractor: Gasaway, Gasaway, Bankston
Budget: $5,214,566
Targeted Completion: February 2024

The new cafeteria and classroom building at Springfield High School will open with the start of the new school year.

 

Springfield High School New Cafeteria & Classrooms
Status: In Construction
Contractor: Gasaway, Gasaway, Bankston
Budget: $5,214,566
Targeted Completion: August 2023

 

 

 

 

SCHOOL SUPPLY DRIVE ANNOUNCES COLLECTION DATES

Livingston Parish Assessor Jeff Taylor has announced that local volunteers will be collecting donations for this year’s ASSESS THE NEED (ATN) school supply drive on Aug. 5-6 and Aug. 12-13. This year’s effort marks the 23rd consecutive year of the parish-wide program.

ATN is a not-for-profit program that provides supplies for Livingston Parish students in need of assistance. Taylor said the program plans to meet the needs of more than 3,000 students in all the district’s 43 public schools, including Pre-K and Head Start programs. The supplies will be provided to those students at the start of the school year.

Collection efforts will include volunteers standing outside ten of the parish’s Associated Grocers, Inc., stores – Carter’s Supermarkets in Albany, Springfield, Livingston, Walker, Hatchell Lane in Denham Springs, and Vincent Road in Denham Springs; Oak Point Fresh Market in Watson; Village Market in Port Vincent, White Hall Grocery in Maurepas, and Diversion Market in Head of Island.  Volunteers will collect donations at those sites Aug. 4-5 and Aug. 12-13; each day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All donations are tax deductible, and all proceeds go to support student needs in Livingston Parish. Donations can be given in-person to volunteers or through a secure link to Venmo provided below.”

Download the Venmo app here

VENMO ID: @Assess-The-Need-1

 

LAUNCH LIVINGSTON SETS MISSION ON RECRUITING AND RETAINING TEACHERS

The district is promoting a two-fold effort to recruit and retain teachers for the 2023-2024 school year through its Launch Livingston program.

Mission No. 1 is to retain teachers by assisting them in completing their Level 1 Certification through the state’s alternate certification program. The district will provide $1,000 in tuition reimbursement support to qualified applicants.

Mission No. 2 is to recruit and retain candidates who are eligible for alternate certification. The district is partnered with LRCE to provide training and is committed to subsidizing $2,000 in related costs to a cohort of 50 teacher candidates. To qualify for the program, persons must be an active LPPS employee, have a four-year college degree with a 2.2 GPA or better, agree to a two-year contract, and submit an application by July 21.

For more information on both mission assignments, visit www.lpsb.org and click on the Launch Livingston link.

 

Brad Sharp, District 1

  • first elected to the school board in 2019; ran unopposed for re-election in 2023.
  • Board Chairman of Cost Savings Committee
  • resident of Livingston
  • owner and manager of Porky’s Boudin & Cajun Meats
  • formerly worked for LPPS Maintenance for 18 years
  • Graduate of Doyle High School, Earned HVAC certification from Associated Builders & Contractors Program
  • Married to Ashley Sharp, principal of Springfield Middle School
  • Father to Audrey (17), Trace (9) and Sadie (5); all attend Doyle Schools

“I’m here for the kids. Every decision I make is with that in mind.  There is nothing that overrides the well-being and safety of our children.”

 

June 2023

WHS PRINCIPAL AND NEW TEACHERS COMPETING FOR STATE’S TOP AWARDS

Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre, right, has been named a semifinalist for the Louisiana Principal of the Year Award.  He is pictured with Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy, left, receiving the Livingston Parish High School Principal of the Year award.

Walker High School Principal Jason St. Pierre, Albany Lower Elementary Teacher Payton O’Nellion and Albany Middle School Teacher Phoenix LeBlanc have been named a semifinalist and finalists, respectively, for the Louisiana Department of Education’s Principal of the Year and New Teacher of the Year awards.

Twenty-four teachers and 24 principals have been named Teacher and Principal of the Year semifinalists. Nine teachers have been named New Teacher of the Year finalists.

All Teacher and Principal of the Year semifinalists and the New Teacher of the Year finalists will be honored at the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala, which will be held July 22 at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.  The event is co-sponsored by Dream Teachers.

Albany Middle School Teacher Phoenix LeBlanc, left, and Albany Lower Elementary Teacher Payton O’Nellion, right, have been named finalists for the Louisiana New Teacher of the Year Award. They are pictured with Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy, receiving their district awards.

 

 

CAMPERS ENJOY HANDS-ON LEARNING WITH STEAM EXPRESS

STEAM Express volunteer Mya Gregoire, left, and PARDS Camp Counselor Destiny Davis, second to right, assist summer camp participants Noah Champagne and Gavin LaGrone, left to right respectively, make the correct patterns with colored triangles as indicated by an electronic software program.

PARDS Summer Campers Dawson Rene and Abram Young, pictured left to right, work with battery operated circuit boards to create assorted sounds and lighting patterns. The fun science station was made available to them on the STEAM Express, a mobile learning lab that is operated by Livingston Parish Public Schools.

Campers at the Parks & Recreation District of Denham Springs (PARDS) enjoyed a variety of hands-on science activities this month, as the STEAM Express made a special visit to some of its day sessions.

STEAM Express Director Jolie Gregoire said the mobile learning lab has booked several “field visits” for this summer to help expose more children to fun learning activities.

“When children can engage in scientific and engineering-based activities in the context of a fun activity, like summer camp, then it’s a great way to make learning fun and interesting,” Gregoire said.  “Our hope is that the more our students can engage in these types of activities, then the more inclined they may become to pursue more learning in these areas, and eventually pursue a career in that path.”

Gregoire said community organizations interested in having the STEAM Express participate in their activities can contact her at 225-686-4233 or at jolie.gregoire@lpsb.org to determine availability and to schedule an appearance.

 

LIVINGSTON PARISH STUDENTS WIN NATIONAL ART CONTEST

Two Livingston Parish Public School students are winners in this year’s 2023 National ESS Art Contest.

Jacob Li, a student at Live Oak Elementary School, won the 3-5 Grade competition, while Sherry Yang, a student at Live Oak High School, won the 9-12 Grade competition.  Both students earned a $500 check for themselves and their schools.

ESS is a national education management and staffing solution corporation that seeks to provide qualified substitute and permanent employees for school districts across the nation. ESS also provides training for applicants.

This year’s nationwide competition fielded 1,600 entries from students in grades K-12 who created original artwork representing the theme “If you could take a school field trip anywhere, where would you go?”

Live Oak Middle School Student Jacob Li was presented with a $500 cash award for being named the Grade 3-5 winner of the ESS Art Contest. His school also received a $500 award. Pictured, from left to right, are ESS Tangipahoa Substitute Program Manager Clarissa Quinn, Assistant Principal of Live Oak Middle School Rhonda Blount, Hui Li (Jacob’s father), Jacob Li, Yan Li (Jacob’s mother), and local art teacher Vivienne Wu.

Winner of the 3-5 Grade Level ESS Art Contest – Entry by Jacob Li

Live Oak High School Student Sherry Yang, pictured second from left, is presented with a $500 cash award for herself and another $500 check for her school for being named the Grade 9-12 ESS Art Contest winner. Pictured, from left to right, are local art teacher Vivienne Wu, Yang, Live Oak High School Principal Beth Jones, and ESS Tangipahoa Substitute Program Manager Clarissa Quinn.

Winner of the 9-12 Grade Level ESS Art Contest – Entry by Sherry Yang

 

 

 

 

 

May 2023

FIVE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SET TO BEGIN FIREFIGHTING CAREERS

Five Livingston Parish high school seniors recently completed the state’s first-ever high school firefighting training program. Pictured from left to right are LPFPD4 Training and Safety Officer Frank Dellucky, Springfield High Senior Elijah Johnson, Walker High Senior Adon Kent, Springfield High Senior William Woodson, Walker High Senior Kainnon Champagne, and Springfield High Senior Barrett Drury, and LPFPD4 Chief of Training and Safety Keesler Fly.

Five Livingston Parish high school seniors have completed the state’s first-ever high school firefighting training program, earning certifications in managing hazardous materials and firefighting skills, enabling them to gain employment as professional fire fighters after graduation.

The five students are Springfield High School Seniors Barrett Drury, William Woodson and Elijah Johnson, and Walker High School Seniors Kainnon Champagne and Adon Kent.

The program’s core training was developed by the Louisiana Fire and Emergency Training Academy in conjunction with the Louisiana High School Firefighter Training Program Committee

“The program serves as a tool to promote youth participation within the fire and emergency services community,” Livingston Parish Fire Protection District 4 (LPFPD4) Chief of Training and Safety Keesler Fly said. “By participating in this program, our state’s youth will have the chance to learn about local fire, rescue and emergency response organizations in a safe, controlled and educational manner.”

Fly said LPFPD4 recently held its inaugural graduation ceremony for the five students at the department’s headquarters in Walker. They received pins and plaques commemorating their accomplishments.

They were recognized for learning about fire and emergency response. Certifications were awarded for Hazardous Materials Awareness, Hazardous Materials Operations, Firefighter I, and Firefighter II.

 

LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION LEADERS VISIT FRENCH SETTLEMENT HIGH SCHOOL

Those attending the Teacher Advisory Spotlight Session at French Settlement High School on May 1 included, from left to right, Livingston Schools Curriculum Coordinator Jennifer Vicknair, Livingston Schools Assistant Superintendents Jody Purvis and Bruce Chaffin, Livingston Schools Superintendent Joe Murphy, French Settlement High School Math & STEM Teacher and LDOE Teacher Advisory Council Member Erik Willie, French Settlement High School Principal John Chewning, LDOE Math Director Jamie Hebert, LDOE ELA Manager Shantell Lee, and LDOE Education Technology Director Bonnie Chelette, and Joni Landry Executive Assistant to State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley.

Leaders from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and Livingston Parish Public Schools visited French Settlement High School (FSHS) on May 1 for a Teacher Advisory Spotlight Session hosted by local Math and STEM Teacher Erik Willie.

The session focused on new math and English Language Arts initiatives taking place at the state level, with updates being made to the LDOE website and resources to better suit the needs of teachers and students across the state.

FSHS Principal Mr. John Chewning and several math and ELA teachers ranging from Grades 5-12 participated in the meeting. Several students helped to facilitate the meeting.

 

NORTHSIDE ELEMENTARY TEACHER RECOGNIZED BY NIET DURING TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

Northside Elementary Teacher Jessica Walker was recently spotlighted by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) during National Teacher Appreciation Week. Walker teaches 4th & 5th grade special education students.

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) recently recognized Northside Elementary’s Jessica Walker during National Teacher Appreciation Week as part of the organization’s efforts to spotlight the enormous contribution teachers are making to their schools and communities.

Walker teaches 4th and 5th grade special education students at Northside Elementary. She was asked what is something that has made being a teacher worth the many challenges that exist in education.

“The opportunity to make an impact in the life of a child makes being in education worth it. My goal as a teacher is to reach the unreachable child and teach them to believe in themselves,” Walker said.

“At the very beginning of the school year, I start working on building confidence. I want my students to approach every math problem, essay, question set, or reading assignment with a positive attitude. I have watched several of my students go from complete breakdowns while writing to smiling and proudly showing their essay to other teachers on campus,” she said. “To watch a child bloom mentally and develop a love for learning while genuinely being proud of themselves–that is what makes it all worth it as a teacher.”

Walker first started working for Livingston Parish School in 2015 as a tutor. That experience inspired her to go to college to pursue a special education teaching degree. She completed her degree in 2021, while still continuing to work in the district, and for the past two years, has been a full-time classroom teacher.

NIET partners with schools, districts and states to develop sustainable systems for school improvement, teacher and leader development, rubric and observation and comprehensive reform. For the past 20 years, NIET has worked in more than 9,000 schools across the country.

 

PANELISTS SHARE DANGERS OF FENTANYL

Seven panelists recently participated in the Fentanyl Community Awareness Event that was held at the Denham Springs High School STEM & Robotics Center on May 8.  The panelists included, pictured left to right, Dan Schneider, a pharmacist; Steven Hofer, assistant special agent in charge for the Baton Rouge District Office of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration; Rebecca Chiasson, chemistry manager at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab; Dr. Ron Coe, Livingston Parish coroner since 2004; Sgt. Cody Jarreau, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office; Sgt. Keith Scoby, Denham Springs Police Department (standing); and Kristopher Guedry, emergency room nurse at Our Lady of the Lake’s Children’s Hospital. The session was sponsored by the Livingston Parish Students Against Destructive Decisions.