LONG-TIME PARISH EDUCATOR RICK WENTZEL NAMED SUPERINTENDENT Rick Wentzel, assistant superintendent of school operations, will take over the district’s top position on July 1, replacing current Superintendent John Watson. The Livingston Parish School Board unanimously approved the search committee’s recommendation at its June 16 meeting. Watson announced his retirement earlier this year, saying he wanted to allow the board the option to select his replacement before the start of the new school year. Wentzel has spent 22 of his 30 years in education with the Livingston Parish Public School System. Prior to serving as assistant superintendent, he worked as the human resources supervisor and principal at Springfield High, North Corbin Junior High and Walker Junior High. He also has experience as an assistant principal at Southside Junior High, and as a teacher and coach at Live Oak and Denham Springs high schools.
ALBANY MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER NAMED STATE FINALIST
Joni Smith’s passion for her students at Albany Middle School and her keen ability to connect what is taught in the classroom with everyday life experiences has made her one of the state’s top candidates for Louisiana’s Middle School Teacher of the Year. Smith is one only eight middle school teachers in the state who are in the finals of the annual state competition to be recognized on July 15. Smith is a local prodigy who graduated from Live Oak High School and received her certification and bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2007. She taught science at Westside Junior High in Walker for nearly seven years before moving to Albany Middle School in 2014.
TEACHERS PARTICIPATE IN MATH WORKSHOPS
More than 80 elementary teachers and 30 middle school teachers from Livingston Parish Public Schools participated in math methods workshops earlier this month. Southeastern Louisiana University instructors Stacy Jemison and Dr. Daniel Acosta, Ph.D., led the seminars, which focused on conceptual teaching, instruction and assessment methods and techniques for math curricula. The seminars were filled to capacity with more than 20 teachers on a waiting list to get in! The elementary workshop covered four days, while the middle school workshop went for six days.
WALKER HIGH SCHOOL BREAKS GROUND ON NEW FACILITIES
Livingston Parish school officials and community leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 27 at Walker High School to launch the construction of the largest components of a $25 million capital improvement plan approved by voters in the Walker School District in 2014. The new construction projects include a main, two-story building with 32 classrooms, a spacious library, teacher work room and administrative offices that will face Florida Boulevard, creating a new front entrance to the high school campus. Also included are a new cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating for 600-800 students; a new band room for 200 students, with practice and rehearsal rooms and storage for instruments; a new vocational-technical education building for agriculture, carpentry and welding classes; and a new air-conditioned gymnasium that seats 2,000 people. The projects are expected to be completed around the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
DENHAM SPRINGS GRAD RECEIVES $500 SCHOLARSHIP