In a grand celebration of educational excellence, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) joined hands with Dream Teachers to host the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala to honor outstanding teachers and leaders across the state, according to this news release from LDOE.
This prestigious event took place at the iconic World War II Museum in New Orleans, where outstanding teachers and leaders from across the state were recognized for their exceptional contributions to the field of education. The night was marked by the announcement of several significant awards, including the Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year, Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year, and Louisiana New Teacher of the Year.
The most coveted award, the Louisiana Teacher of the Year, went to Kylie Altier, a first-grade teacher at Buchanan Elementary in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. Altier’s accomplishments extend beyond the classroom as she secured over $13,000 in grants to enrich the educational experiences of her students and the school community. Her innovative projects, including an agriculture-focused garden, a mobile kitchen for hands-on cooking experiences, and a curriculum incorporating virtual reality headsets, have all contributed to a dynamic and immersive learning environment.
The gala also recognized exceptional educators in various categories, with division-level Teachers of the Year being named in Elementary, Middle, and High School divisions. Sandra Saye-Foucqueteau from Zachary Community School District, Cory Joy Craig from Bossier Parish Schools, and Dennis “DJ” Pevey from Tangipahoa Parish School Systemwere the respective division-level awardees.
State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Cade Brumley, took the stage to applaud the honorees, stating, “tonight we celebrate the remarkable dedication and unwavering commitment of Louisiana’s finest teachers and leaders. Their resilience, passion, and tireless efforts have transformed lives and paved the way for our Louisiana comeback.”
Tia Mechelle Trahan, the principal of Lafayette Middle in the Lafayette Parish School System, was bestowed with the title of Louisiana Principal of the Year. Trahan’s accomplishments as a leader include being a National Board Certified Teacher and previously winning Lafayette Parish School System Teacher of the Year in 2007. She also completed the National Institute for School Leaders program, showcasing her dedication to continuous improvement and professional growth.
In addition to the overall Principal of the Year, the event celebrated division-level Principal of the Year honorees in the Elementary, Middle, and High School categories. Dr. Monya Thomas-Criddle from Jefferson Parish Schools, Barry Carter from DeSoto Parish Schools, and Marvin Evans from Ascension Public Schools received the well-deserved recognition.
The gala also shone a spotlight on early childhood outstanding teachers and educators, acknowledging their vital contributions to a child’s foundational learning years. Phedra Jackson from Lafourche Head Start was named the Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher of the Year for her decade-long commitment to serving children and families in Louisiana. Arielle Hughes, who leads Carousel Preschool in Jefferson Parish, was celebrated as the Louisiana Early Childhood Leader of the Year for her decade of combined experience in leading and teaching in Early Learning centers.
Furthermore, the gala honored Phoenix Morel LeBlanc, a teacher at Albany Middle in the Livingston Parish Public School System, as the Louisiana New Teacher of the Year. This award recognizes excellence during the first year in the classroom, and the program has grown in significance over the past two years.
The Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala not only celebrates individual achievements but also acknowledges the collective efforts of educators across the state. Finalists for the New Teacher of the Year, Early Childhood Teacher and Leader categories, as well as recipients of the Milken Educator Award and Louisiana’s Public Interest Fellowship, were also applauded for their remarkable contributions to education.
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