August 2023


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 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.




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.



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