Louisiana Educators, Leaders Attend Jump Start Convention

According to the Louisiana Department of Education, on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, approximately 1,400 Louisiana educators and industry leaders convened at the 6th annual Jump Start Convention. The convention was held at the Raising Cane’s River Center with the theme “Modern Pathways to a Prosperous Future.” The attendees reflected on the progress of the state’s premier career and technical education program, built knowledge, shared resources, and strategized for the future.

Jump Start began in 2014 and is Louisiana’s innovative career and technical education program. This program prepares students to lead productive futures as adults who are capable of continuing their post-high school education while earning certifications in high wage careers. Students in this program are required to attain the necessary credentials that are aligned with more than 50 approved pathways in order to graduate with a career diploma.

Before the Jump Start program, less than two percent of students graduated with a career diploma. Now, over one in five students will graduate with a career diploma. The number of industry-based credentials earned by Louisiana students has increased from 17,885 in 2014 to over 90,000 in 2018.

“Jump Start has fundamentally changed the opportunities available to young people in Louisiana,” said State Superintendent John White, who deliveredthe event’s opening address at 7:40 a.m.“However, it remains the case that too often those credentials are not translating into full-time employment after high school, youth unemployment remains high, and many high school graduates do not have concrete plans for their future following graduation. This convention presents an opportunity for educators and industry leaders to come together to discuss how we can better prepare our students for lifelong success, and in turn, move Louisiana forward.”

At the convention, which was a day-long event, the attendees reflected on recent CTE gains. Among those 2019 highlights are:

  • “Local education and business leaders across the state partnered to expand the Jump Start Summers program, which enabled 1,942 students, including those with disabilities, to receive paid, on-the-job career and technical training during the summer months. Participating students earned an average stipend of $939 and 1,650 academic credits, 472 dual enrollment credit hours, and 2,223 industry-based credentials.”
  • “Louisiana approveda new Jump Start pathway to equip both college and career-bound high school students interested in pursuing a career in education with the knowledge and skills needed to find success upon graduation. The Pre-Educator Pathway includes a special progression of courses to help students develop a strong foundation of academic knowledge and skills, as well as an understanding of diverse learners and the learning environment.”
  • “Louisiana expanded opportunities for high school students to develop knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, to help them succeed following graduation, all while earning career credentials and transferable course credit to LSU and Xavier University. The four new Jump Start STEM pathways, available to both college and career-bound students, include Xavier University Pre-Pharmacy; LSU Biomedical Sciences; LSU Computing; and National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, or NICERC, Cyber Security.”
  • “Quest for Success, an innovative course that allows middle and high school students to develop essential workplace skills, explore various careers and industry sectors, and learn about themselves and their interests in order to successfully navigate life after high school, was scaled statewide. The course, which will replace the Journey to Careers course, was designed by the 22 educators who participated in the Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship.”

The attendees also looked into the future of CTE through reviewing the implementation plan for Jump Start 2.0, which is a five-year expansion of the current Jump Start program that will focus on reducing the stigma around career education.


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Two Louisiana Educators Receive National Honors

According to Louisiana Believes, Steven Gamache and Jennifer Williams, two Louisiana educators, received the 2019-2020 prestigious, nationally recognized Milken Educator Award as well as the accompanying unrestricted check for $25,000. The two language arts teachers are among 40 educators nationwide to receive this year’s award.

Steven Gamache is an eighth grade language arts teacher at Paul Habans Charter School in Orleans Parish. He obtains a bachelors in English from Fordham University and a master’s in adolescent education from the College of Saint Rose. Aside from being the school’s lead ELA teacher, Gamache is also the coach to sixth and seventh grade ELA interventionists.

Jennifer Williams, a sixth grade language arts teacher at John Q. Adams School in Jefferson Parish, received her bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of New Orleans. She’s also the organizer of her school’s “Test Fest”, one of the schools biggest events.

Both Gamache and Williams were prepared for an assembly, celebrating their schools’ wonderful academic gains, when they were given the surprise of a lifetime as the Milken Educator Awards Founder, Lowell Milken, announced the true reason they were there.

“There are very, very few human beings walking the planet with the commitment, intelligence, sense of humor, thoughtfulness and integrity that Steve possesses. He’s the newest member of a very elite group and he deserves every accolade he received – and will receive – today and going forward.” said Tracy Blowers about teacher Steven Gamache in response to receiving the Milken Educator Award.

Watch the video for Steven Gamache receiving his award here.

Alena Alexeeva says about Williams, “Mrs.Williams is one of the best teachers. She is always thinking about the class and teaches her students well. She helps students understand a new topic easily and motivates her students to never give up. She also has very good methods in her class that make learning easy and fun.”

Watch the video for Jennifer Williams receiving her award here.

Winners of the Milken Educator Award are selected in their early to mid-career, with consideration of what they have already achieved, as well as the promise of what they will accomplish in their career. Aside from the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the award also includes being inducted into the Milken Educator Network, a community of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals, and specialists who have also received the honor of the award.

Winners of the 2019-2020 Milken Educator Award will also attend a Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 26-28, 2020, where they will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and peers and elaborate and exchange ideas with both state and federal on the future of education.

The Award’s “Why Not Us” program will pair each 2019 recipient to a Milken Educator veteran mentor so they can explore, collaborate, and prepare new ideas for expanded leadership roles that better and solidify education practice and policy.

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