Louisiana Teachers Gather for Annual Summit

The Louisiana Department of Education held the 7th Teacher Leader Summit on Wednesday, June 26th through Friday, June 28th, 2019. More than 6,500 Louisiana teachers and educators, representing almost every school system in the state, gathered at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This annual Summit was created in response to teachers who thought classroom educators should have a larger voice in statewide academic decisions.At the first statewide summit in April 2013, there were 2,000 teachers in attendance. Since then, the number of participating teachers has tripled with an approximated 6,500 teachers in attendance this year. They have since branched out to a blend of year-round-in-person and online trainings to expand the opportunities available to Teacher Leaders.

From Wednesday through Friday, these over 6,000educators spent their time at the Summit attending and conducting professional development training workshops, collaborating with one another as peers, and learning how they can best play active roles in shaping the future of up-and-coming Louisiana minds and the future of education in Louisiana. The collection of training and workshop topics vary from early childhood development and education to school improvement and Louisiana’s innovative assessment pilot, which was enacted to study how the state tackles issues of school accountability, student assessment, data transparency, and school improvement. In addition to these workshops led by Teacher Leaders, the Summit will host “Ed Talks,” which is a speaker series that featured the six national education leaders.

The 7th Teacher Leader Summit ushered in preparations for the 2019-2020 school year and those to follow. The summit overview listed its objectives as follows:

“This year’s event will equip educators in every level of the system with tools and training that provide all students the opportunity to:

  • Build knowledge of the world
  • Read meaningful texts
  • Express ideas through writing and speaking
  • Solve complex math problems
  • Attend a school that treats them with dignity and respect”

The State Superintendent John White stated, “Louisiana has a longstanding commitment to raising the bar, and as a result, more students than ever before are graduating in four years, earning college and career credentials, achieving eligibility for TOPS scholarships, and pursuing post-secondary education and training.” State Superintendent White continued, “During the 7th annual Teacher Leader Summit, we will celebrate those hard-earned gains, but more importantly, we will focus on how our collaborative efforts can make those opportunities accessible to all students, including our most vulnerable.”

Students from The Performing Arts Academy of St. Bernard Parish performed in the convention center’s theater for the inauguration of the event. Superintendent White addressed the current state of education in Louisiana and outlined the academic strategy moving forward into the future. The 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year and recipient of the inaugural Louisiana Public Interest Fellowship, Kimberly Eckert, announced the winner of the Fellowship for the 2019-2020 school year. Lastly, South Lafourche High School was honored with the title of 2019 Louisiana Teacher Leader Summit Premier School.

Watch a stream of the opening ceremony here.

For more education related information, click here.

Legislative Achievements for Education

Recently Louisiana has taken a huge step in furthering the education of the students in its state. Louisiana Believes outlines the achievements made for the education of Louisiana’s students. The class of 2018 achieved the highest graduation outcome, the highest in Louisiana’s history to be exact.  All of the hard work paid off and it showed at the Louisiana 2019 Regular Legislative Session.  John White, the State Superintendent of Education, released a statement starting off with, “It is a good legislative session when our state invests in our schools and when our schools demonstrate such academic returns on that investment.”

Not only did classes prove that education is worth investing in, but they helped state leaders improve even more. The pay for all public school teachers will be raised by $1,000. Teachers are not the only employees receiving a raise, school support personnel’s pay will also increase by $500.

$39 million was added to the education funding formula. This will provide the support that is always needed for public schools to operate. This will also be helpful to the employees that run the schools. $20 was dedicated to early childhood education. This is to help prevent pre-kindergarten programs and services from decreasing due to federal funds not being available. This money will also be used to help increase available slots in childcare for families that are working and low income.

High school students will also be supported. While enrolled in high school they will be able to earn college credits, helping them to further their education after graduation. This will also help high schoolers earn industry credentials for the workforce that can be used after graduation. Task forces will be created to help each of these efforts.

The Class of 2018 showed that investing in education is worth it. John White’s official statement said:

“It is a good legislative session when our state invests in our schools and when our schools demonstrate such exceptional academic returns on that investment. In recent weeks, our state announced that more students than ever before are graduating from high school, earning early college credit and industry-based credentials, achieving eligibility for TOPS, and enrolling in college.  As the session comes to a close, I applaud the Governor, lawmakers, and BESE for continuing that progress, and for heeding the voices of families and educators across our state.”

The 2019 Regular Legislative Session started on Monday, April 8, 2019 and adjourned Thursday, June 6, 2019. Education was not the only group to receive more financial help. District attorneys, assistant district attorneys, and judges pay was boosted. Also, a new law now allows young adults to stay within the foster care system until they turn 21. Services have only been given to those young adults in foster care until they graduate from highschool. Before that, young adult would be kicked out of foster care once they turn 18, even if they are not done with foster care.

Louisiana’s foster care system has not been invested in the past. Within 2 years of being in the system, one in five young adults end up homeless. One fourth of the young adults in the foster care system were in prison, a 2017 report shows. The report came from the Louisiana State Task Force on Youth Aging Out of Foster Care.

For more education related information, click here.

 

Alzheimer’s Patient Improvement Due to Hyperbaric Treatment

An article recently published by the Advocate, describes the amazing brain improvement of an Alzheimer’s patient after hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is when the patient breathes in pure oxygen, usually in a pressurized tube or room. While in the room or tube, the air pressure will increase, this enables the patient’s lungs to take in more oxygen. The increase of oxygen stimulates stem cells and growth factors, which actually help heal the body.

Injured tissue needs more oxygen to heal and survive, that includes the brain. Dr. Paul Harch (LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine) and Dr. Edward Fogarty (University of North Dakota School of Medicine) have presented a case of a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’ disease“is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life”. This affects about 5.7 million Americans alone. Most of the people being over the age of 65. It also affects about 200,000 people who are under the age of 65.

Deaths because of Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise. 14 million cases are expected to be present by 2050. That’s only about 31 years away. “The load of toxins, food additives, pesticides in chemicals — all take a toll,”said Dr. Harch.

The case report that Dr. Harch and Dr. Fogarty presented was a case about a 58-year-old woman. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her memory and motor skills were beginning to deteriorate. However, after 21 treatments of the Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, her activity and energy levels had improved. And most importantly her mood improved. Her performance of day to day activities improved and she could even work on crossword puzzles.

They then proceeded to 40 treatments. She began to eat more and she also was not as frustrated. Her memory increased which also meant her concentration increased. She was even sleeping better; her bad days became less frequent.

Not only did her actions and symptoms show the results of the treatment, but so did the PET scans that were taken of her brain. Dr. Harch states that even a third grader could notice that there was improvement. In the brain’s metabolism, the whole improvement went from 6.5 percent to 38 percent.   

If this treatment could potentially stop but also, just temporarily reverse what the Alzheimer’s disease did in the first place. This case study is just one out of eleven that will be using hyperbaric oxygen therapy as treatment for Alzheimer’s. Imagine if this is the outcome for all of the patients.

The only problem was that once the treatment stopped, her symptoms came back. Alzheimer’s has no cure, but the process can be slowed down. She was, thankfully, retreated for 20 months and the symptoms had stopped progressing.

Dr. Harch said, “The results of the study suggest that Alzheimer’s can be treated in the long term with hyperbaric oxygen therapy along with drugs”. He also describes how medicine is quite slow, doctors must overcome the misunderstanding of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Which he then goes on to describe as “gene therapy”.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not only for Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Harch has used hyperbaric oxygen therapy on patients who have nearly drowned. He showed the regrowth of brain treatment, using hyperbaric oxygen therapy on a toddler who nearly drowned. Many doctors believed that the child would never talk or even walk again. But because of the therapy she is talking and she is even waking.

For more education related information, click here.

Louisiana’s Jump Start 2.0 Program

The Department of Education just released a blueprint for public feedback on the Jump Start 2.0 program. Louisiana is taking a step forward to reduce the negative connotations surrounding career and technical education and making sure those with a Career Diploma are ready to enter high-wage career sectors. In a blueprint titled Jump Start 2.0, the state is attempting to further its nationally recognized program Jump Start created in 2014.

The Jump Start program “prepares students to lead productive adult lives, capable of continuing their education after high school.” Students leave the program with a Career Diploma- signifying the students obtained industry mandated and valued credentials. With this program, students are able to leave high school with the ability to secure a high-wage or high-demand career. Jump Start is also an elective path which can be taken by students wanting to further their education.

Before the initiation of Jump Start, less than two percent of Louisiana’s students graduated with a Career Diploma. In 2018, over 90,000 students graduated high school with a Career Diploma- a drastic increase from 2014’s 17,885 students.

With the initiation of Jump Start 2.0, the program will grow even further. The blueprint signifies that:

  1. Every student that graduates with a Career Diploma will show they can succeed in the workplace- fully prepared to work in a high-wage, high-growth industry. The program will increase its workplace learning, prioritize the most valuable opportunities, and better align its 51 possible pathways to career clusters.
  2. Every state resident will know the Jump Start career path as well as the TOPS program. The program will do this by celebrating successful Jump Start graduates, launching an interactive website for students and families, and investing in further professional development for its career and technical education leaders.
  3. Community leaders will create various systems to conjoin education and employment throughout Louisiana without the state interfering. Jump Start will do this by creating new governance structures and supporting ideals that take the experience past high school graduation.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the new blueprint initiative after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) instructed the Department to assess how the Jump Start program offerings aligned with the workforce needs of the state. The Department of Education released a report which stated that while students were gaining more credentials, but not receiving the experience necessary for the high-wage, high-demand jobs available in the region. Of the top 15 industry-based credentials earned, only three were truly aligned with regional needs.

As a way to improve, the Department of Education paired with not only education leaders, but also business leaders across the state to create a more comprehensive blueprint for Jump Start 2.0. The Department then turned to state residents interested in career and technical education in Louisiana. The public feedback form closed March 15.

The Department of Education will now evaluate the feedback to improve the blueprint and share it at the April 2019 BESE meeting. All changes to the program will be carried out keeping in mind the needs and commitments of participating schools, students, and school systems. Some of the changes may be enforced as soon as the 2019-2020 school year.

For more education related information, click here.

Six Louisiana Schools Nominated for Blue Ribbon Award

Louisiana Believes website recently announced that several schools were in the running for The National Blue Ribbon Award.  The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is a federal program whose mission is to “promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access” as stated on their website.  The award recognizes schools based on their overall academic excellence and progress with closing achievement gaps. Every year the U.S. Department of Education celebrates great American schools that have been successful in showing that all students can achieve at high levels. More than 8,500 schools across the country have been presented with this highly coveted and prestigious award. The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students succeed.

Schools may be nominated for the award only once within a five-year period and are nominated by their Chief State School Officer.   The U.S. Department of Education determines the number of nominations per state based on the number of students and schools in each state.  One-third of the public schools nominated by each state must include student populations with at least 40% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This year, six Louisiana schools have been nominated to be recipients of the award which will be announced in September of 2019.  Four of the nominated schools are recognized as “Exemplary High Performing Schools” and two of the nominated schools are recognized as “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.”  They are among the state’s highest-performing schools as measured by state assessments.

The schools include:

Blue Ribbon Award

Haynes Academy School for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish

Early College Academy, Lafayette Parish

Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy, Jefferson Parish

Thomas Jefferson High School for Advanced Studies, Jefferson Parish

Bayou Black Elementary School, Terrebonne Parish

St. Charles Elementary School, Lafourche Parish

School administrators were over the moon upon hearing of the recent nominations.  Karla H. Russo, Principal of Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies in Jefferson Parish: “We are honored to be nominated as a potential National Blue Ribbon School. Our faculty, staff, students, parents, and community work together to create an environment that fosters student achievement and success, and I am proud to see their dedication and commitment to learning recognized.”  Alexander Melton, Principal of Early College Academy in Lafayette Parish: “Early College Academy is honored and excited to be the recipient of a Blue Ribbon School nomination. To be mentioned in the same category as the other fine Louisiana schools who have been nominated is humbling for us. All of our stakeholders, especially our students, faculty, and staff, work hard to achieve the best results possible. We are both proud and excited to be recognized for that hard work.”

John White himself commented on the nominations and overall success of many Louisiana schools in a released statement: “These six schools stand out for their ability to either steadily improve student achievement over subsequent years or consistently remain one of the top performing schools in the state.  This is a commendable achievement worthy of this distinguished honor.”

The winning school will serve as a model of effective school practices for state and district educators as well as throughout the nation.  Staff at winning schools are often sought out as mentors to discuss key elements of their success, from individualized student supports, research-based instruction, collaboration, and targeted curricula. Representatives from schools will be invited to Washington DC to be honored at an annual awards ceremony. The school itself will receive an engraved plaque and flag with the official seal signifying its winning status and the year of the award.

For more education-related news and information, click here.

Nicholls Students to Compete in 16th Annual Bayou Sales Challenge

Nicholls released that it will be among several universities to participate in the 16th Bayou Sales Challenge of 2019 which is an amazing opportunity for students in the southern U.S. to show and fine-tune their professional sales skills.  Among the participating schools are Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Southern University, University of Louisiana-Lafayette and Xavier University.  44 individual students will compete in high-pressure sales simulations in Nicholls’ state-of-the-art Sales and Interactive Training Lab built in 2003 with a generous donation from Northwestern Mutual.  That Fall, the very first Bayou Sales Challenge was held. ​

Once the top two students of the competition emerge, they will progress and face off head-to-head. There will also be a Team Selling challenge, a career expo and two discussion panels: one from professional salespeople and the other from judges and customers.  

Bayou Sales Challenge News at Nicholls

The Team Selling Challenge is a new addition to the event this year.  Two teammates will enter the room together to sell something to the customer. ​  This round of competition is only 15 minutes long but allows for a lot of creativity. ​​The team who scores the highest total combined points wins.

Some of the skills and attributes that will be evaluated are:

  1. Product Knowledge
  2. Strategic PRospecting Skills
  3. Rapport Building
  4. Buyer/Seller Agreement
  5. Active Listening
  6. Communication
  7. Qualification Questioning
  8. Time Management
  9. Objection Prevention
  10. Demo Skills

“The Bayou Sales Challenge provides students with an experience that instills in them the confidence that they can compete in the marketplace,” said Dr. Laura Valenti, director of the Bayou Sales Challenge and assistant professor of marketing. “The competition also gives students an opportunity to network with top businesses.”

The event is very Shark Tank-esque and is great practice and exposure for future business men and women.  As on the award-winning reality show Shark Tank, the sharks often find weaknesses and faults in an entrepreneur’s concept, product, or business model, yet some of the investors try to soften the impact of rejection.  Unlike the show though, this is a safe place to learn and grow as young business people without the fear of loss of investment or risking business assets.

The Director of the event, Laura Lott Valenti, released the following letter regarding the event:

Dear Students, Coaches, Sponsors, and Volunteers,

Over the last eleven years, I have had the honor of meeting most of the program’s supporters and participants, and I am excited to bring another great coopetition to you in February 2019.

The Bayou Sales Challenge is known for its strong connection to the region because of its ties to supportive, well-regarded sponsors and volunteers.  While preparing students for success in sales or related careers, top-notch coaches bring their star students to compete in our two-day role-play competition.  Celebrating the talent we see each year is something I have always looked forward to because when these major pillars convene the students benefit greatly. I am honored to carry the torch for a wonderful program that enables such a unique opportunity of impact.

The 2019 competition marks the sixteenth annual Bayou Sales Challenge, and once again you will see some subtle changes that should enhance the overall competition.  Whether your role is a sponsor or coach, you can expect to experience a well-run competition with the same great southern charm and comradery.

Students, coaches, and volunteers are the most valuable component to the Bayou Sales Challenge’s success.  I thank each of you for the inherent commitment of making a career in sales one that it worthy of recognition.

Reach out to me should you have any questions, and cheers to this amazing opportunity to make an impact with our students.

Sincerely,

Laura Lott Valenti

Both students and event creators are looking forward to seeing the new young talent and their inspiring methodology and ideas.  


For more education-related news and information, click here.