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Group photo of grant winnersBossier Optimist Club has, once again, put its money where its mouth is by living up to the organization’s motto ‘Friend of Youth.’ Nine grant projects totaling nearly $25,000 were funded at a luncheon June 5, enabling Bossier Parish teachers to bring classroom enhancements and learning opportunities to life for their students in the 2019-20 school year. Grant funding extended to educators at Bossier Schools by the Bossier Optimist Club totals $484,000 to date.

Last month, 49 Bossier Parish educators submitted grant proposals detailing various initiatives to support classroom learning and increase student engagement. A judging panel reviewed each application and conducted face-to-face teacher interviews before deciding which projects to fund. Monetary awards were handed out by the Optimists at a luncheon June 5 in the teachers’ honor.

Recipients of this year’s Bossier Optimist Club grants are: Brandi Dye, Cope Middle; Kara Stephenson, Elm Grove Middle; Christy Hopkins, Parkway High; Eric Clinton and Teresa Ramadan, Parkway High; Amanda Mineo, Parkway High; Vallette Weaver, Haughton High; Vanessa Powers, Plantation Park Elementary; Callie Schneider, Central Park Elementary; and Jan Rogers, Bellaire Elementary.

“The commitment the Bossier Optimist Club has shown Bossier Schools over the years is unparalleled,” said Mitch Downey, Superintendent of Bossier Schools. “Their unwavering support has enabled our teachers to impact literally tens of thousands of students, making learning what it is supposed to be; fun and exciting and, in turn, helping our young people achieve success.”

The Optimists began awarding grants in 1988 to Bossier Parish teachers. Each week, club members work Bingo games to raise money specifically for this teacher grant program.

Here is a synopsis of each recipient's winning grant proposal: 

 

Brandi Dye - Cope Middle/$3,000

Project - Bowling for Life supports the funding of physical education tools and materials to support a unit that will help enhance students in physical activity, social and emotional, mental-focus and motor skills.

 

Kara Stephenson- Elm Grove Middle/$2,730

The Google Expedition kit to support Google Goggles so students can experience learning through a virtual and/or augmented reality-based education that extends beyond the walls of the classrooms.

 

Christy Hopkins - Parkway High School/$2,995

It’s All in the DNA! This project will support research equipment and lab equipment to enable students to learn about the latest discoveries in biotechnology and become an active CSI investigator in solving real world problems in science and technology.

 

Eric Clinton/Teresa Ramadan - Parkway High School/$3,000

This project will fund specialized seeds, materials and resources, and tools for students to participate with the hands-on approach to assessing resources needed to grow sustainable agriculture and explore the realms of producing economical and healthy produce foliage. Students will be able to control the environment and manipulate variables for assessment of cause and effect performance in relation to nutrient levels, moisture levels, and microbe activity.

 

Amanda Mineo - Parkway High School/$2,970

This project fund lab equipment and specialized kits to teach students important lab and research skills for future professions in medical, engineering, and laboratory fields. Students will apply scientific discovery skills and collect data to assess current science theories.

 

Vallette Weaver - Haughton High School/$2,926

This project would involve the purchase of Chromebooks to support credit recovery and EOC (End of Course) and the support of  remediation through technology to gain credits to be college/career ready.

 

Vanessa Powers - Plantation Park Elementary/$1,580

Say Cheese is a project that will provide a creative outlet for students to learn aperture, lighting, and photo composition, as well as photo editing with editing software and the use of a professional photographer’s camera with lens.

 

Callie Schneider - Central Park Elementary/$2,456

The STEM Detectives MYSTERIES Project Kit will teach STEM skills as well as Motivate Younger Students to Explore, Research, Investigate, Evaluate, and Solve real-world problems in grades PreK-5th.

 

Jan Rogers - Bellaire Elementary/$2,997

The Mystery Science Project Kit provides a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned curriculum to four grade levels for three years. Lessons will cover a wide range of topics, including light and sound, biodiversity, engineering, and the water cycle to support learning across the curricula.

Posted 6/5/19

 

Spencer Kiper shakes hands with President Trump in the Oval OfficeBossier Schools' own Spencer Kiper, the 2019 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, just returned from a week of events in Washington D.C. where he had the chance to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Kiper and the nation's other State Teachers of the Year were also honored during Washington Week by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a ceremony in the Eisenhower Building and had the chance to meet Vice President Mike Pence and Congressional members.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) coordinated Washington Week, which encompassed a flurry of activities that gave Kiper and his colleagues the opportunity to lend their voice and perspective as it pertains to K-12 education.

“Teacher voice is incredibly important in both representation and in forming policy,” Kiper said. “I’m proud to have represented my students, my community and the state of Louisiana in the many discussions that week, and look forward to watching how our voices continue to help shape the narrative of equity and success in our states.”

Kiper is a STEM Enrichment Educator at Elm Grove Middle School, Global Trainer for STEM Revolution and former Educator Crew Trainer for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. He is also a proud graduate of Haughton High School in Bossier Parish.

Posted 5/17/19

 

Clip art of a diploma and mortar board with tasselBefore the Bossier Parish Senior Class of 2018-19 graduates this weekend, the Louisiana Department of Education is focusing on the preceding class that reached an all-time high school graduation rate in Bossier Parish.

State graduation rate data for 2017-18 was released today and Bossier Schools received news 85.7 percent of its previous class graduated, reflecting a gain of 2.4 percentage points from the previous year and setting a record number of students receiving their high school diploma.

Three success stories, in particular, were at Benton High School, where the cohort graduation rate reached 93.3 percent; Bossier High saw its graduation rate skyrocket by more than 14 percentage points; and Plain Dealing increased its number of graduates by nearly four percentage points.

Not only did more students graduate than ever before, but more than half the Senior Class of 2017-18 throughout Bossier Parish earned credentials beyond their high school diploma. This is the result of them taking advantage of opportunities such as Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment, as well as Industry Based Certifications (IBCs), a direct correlation that indicates a student’s preparedness for college or readiness for the workforce. As a result, a rise of more than 2 percentage points was also seen in the district’s strength of diploma.

“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work,” said Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey. “Our high school accountability coaches are one of the main reasons we are seeing this level of success. They focus on opportunities for our students and outcomes, while working in partnership with their entire teaching staff that is also working collaboratively. It is all vital to our children’s academic success and directly impacts school scores and graduation rates.” 

Posted 5/16/19

 

Group photo of Benton Middle School Archery TeamBenton Middle School hit the bullseye and claimed bragging rights as National Champions after traveling to Louisville, KY last weekend to participate in the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) 2019 U.S. Eastern National Tournament.

Several teams and individuals from Bossier Schools competed and also brought home national titles, rankings and awards in the various competitions. It was quite the feat and impressive showing for Bossier Schools, especially considering there were more than 15,000 archers competing from around the United States.

 

Here is a look at Bossier Parish team and individual rankings:

 

NASP Bullseye:

 

Benton Elementary -- 8th out of 200 teams

Benton Middle -- 1st out of 255 teams (National Champions)

Elm Grove Elementary -- 191st out of 200 teams

Haughton Middle -- 4th out of 255 teams

Haughton High -- 171st out of 263 teams

Greenacres Middle -- 216th out of 255 teams

Kingston Elementary -- 6th out of 200 teams

Princeton Elementary -- 26th out of 200 teams

Stockwell Place Elementary -- 2nd out of 200 teams

 

Individual awards:

 

*Cassidy Walters, Benton Middle, 3rd place out of 2,559 middle school girls

*Savannah O’Donohue, Stockwell Place Elementary, 4th out of 1,940 elementary school girls

 

NASP 3D:

 

Benton Elementary -- 7th out of 77 teams

Benton Middle -- 2nd out of 123 teams

Elm Grove Elementary -- 74th out of 77 teams

Haughton Middle -- 5th out of 123 teams

Haughton High -- 84th out of 133 teams

Kingston Elementary -- 4th out of 77 teams

Princeton Elementary -- 21st out of 77 teams

Stockwell Place Elementary -- 3rd out of 77 teams

*Brady Duncan from Benton High also participated in NASP Bullseye and NASP 3D

 

Individual awards:

 

*Lawson Moock, Haughton Middle, 5th out of 1,062 middle school boys

 

Centershot Ministries also hosts a national tournament that coincides with the NASP National Tournament.  Some teams and individual archers choose to participate in the Centershot tournament as a warm-up for NASP Nationals.  Below is a summary of Bossier Parish archers’ achievements in Centershot Nationals.

 

Centershot Bullseye:

 

Benton Elementary -- 2nd out of 19 teams

Benton Middle -- 2nd out of 29 teams

Haughton Middle -- 1st out of 29 teams (Centershot National Bullseye Champions)

Haughton High -- 29th out of 38 teams

Kingston Elementary -- 6th out of 19 teams

 

Individual awards:

 

*Anna Young, Benton Elementary, 1st out of 205 elementary school girls

*Cassidy Walters, Benton Middle, 3rd out of 300 middle school girls

 

Centershot 3D:

 

Benton Middle -- 1st out of 21 teams (Centershot National 3D Champions)

Haughton Middle -- 2nd out of 21 teams

Haughton High -- 16th out of 23 teams

 

Individual awards:

 

*Anna Young, Benton Elementary, 1st out of 96 elementary school girls

*Cassidy Walters, Benton Middle, 5th out of 197 middle school girls

*Lawson Moock, Haughton Middle, 4th out of 228 middle school boys

 

One person who was singled out during the awards ceremony was Autry Lowry, who volunteers as a coach with both Benton Elementary and Benton Middle Schools. Lowry was honored with the NASP Superhero Award, which recognizes an unpaid volunteer that makes an outstanding, positive impact on the NASP class or team.

“Coach Lowry exemplifies all of the qualities of a NASP Superhero and more,” said Shelly Malone, the 4-H archery coach at Benton Middle School. “He has been a mainstay in both the Benton Elementary and Benton Middle School programs and in our community as well. We are so blessed to have him involved with our teams!”

Bossier Schools congratulates Benton Middle School and all of the archery teams for a phenomenal showing at Nationals and wishes them luck at the World NASP Championships, which will be held July 25-27 at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN.

Posted 5/15/19

 

Photo of top three Students of the Year being given an award on stage at banquetAs its name implies, Bossier Schools’ Celebration of Excellence banquet did just that; celebrated the best of the best.

Citizens National Bank sponsored the annual gala to recognize the 2018-19 Students of the Year, Principals of the Year and district Teachers and Outstanding School Support Personnel of the Year winners. It was a night to remember with the Benton High Jazz Band entertaining the crowd of more than 160 guests.

Dressed in their Sunday best, Students of the Year were in the limelight as they walked across stage and were recognized. Citizens National Bank President/CEO Jason Smith then presented personalized iPads to district Student of the Year winners Taylor Henry, Caroline Moore and Katie Bowlin.

District Teachers of the Year Brooke West, Spencer Kiper and Chyrissee Moore were also recognized, as well as parish Outstanding School Support Personnel winners Dana McAlister, Kristy Kempf and Aaron Finimore. Principals of the Year were Lisa Burns, Dr. Kyle Machen and Jason Rowland

The night’s grand finale was when Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey named W.T. Lewis Elementary Principal Lisa Burns as the 2018-19 Innovator of the Year for the many initiatives she has implemented and the way she leads her school with heart and purpose.

Visit the photo gallery here.

A special thanks to Citizens National Bank for its continued investment in the children and educators at Bossier Schools and for supporting excellence.

Posted 5/1/19

 

Mitch Downey is being administered the Oath of OfficeIt is official. In front of a packed auditorium of well wishers, Mitch Downey was administered the Oath of Office on April 18 and became the new Superintendent of Bossier Schools.

Downey is no stranger to Bossier Schools. He has been an educator in the system for 34 years, starting as a teacher and coach and ascending the ranks in administration. He has served as an Administrative Assistant, Assistant Principal, Principal and most recently Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Personnel before being chosen as Superintendent unanimously by the Bossier Parish School Board.

At a reception in his honor, Downey singled out two of his former high school coaches who he said made a profound impact on his life as a student. One was wrestling coach Rick Howell.

“I needed guidance and some tough love. He has been a true and loyal friend and I thank God he took the time to invest in me,” Downey said, blinking back tears.

Downey also took the opportunity following his swearing in ceremony to address Bossier Parish School Board employees and express his love for the district.

“As I have said, this is not about me. I’ve benefited a lot more than I have contributed and I am proud to be a small part of it.”  

Downey and his wife, Sharon, have four children and seven grandchildren.

Posted 4/24/19

Logo for Bossier Parish School BoardOut of District School Transfer Request Forms for the 2019-20 school year will be available beginning Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at all Bossier schools and centers.

 

DEADLINE FOR ALL APPLICATIONS:

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

 

Forms must be returned to:

Bossier Parish School Board/Annex II

P.O. Box 2000

Benton, LA 71006

 

Forms will not be accepted after the deadline.

Posted 4/2/19

 

Logo for Bossier Parish School BoardBossier Schools has received several inquiries about possible attendance zone changes for the 2019-20 year.

The Bossier Parish School Board is a defendant in a school desegregation lawsuit filed many years ago in federal court in Shreveport. While that case is pending, all school attendance zones and all changes in school attendance zones have to be approved by the federal court.

Most of the current zones have been in effect for many years despite major growth and demographic shifts in Bossier Parish. At the suggestion of the parties in the case, the Court has ordered a re-examination of all school attendance zones to determine if any need to be changed in light of the demographic shifts and projections of future growth.  

It is possible some school attendance zones may be altered by the Court after it has reviewed the report that must be submitted to it by March 2019. If any changes are ordered, they will not take effect until the 2019-2020 school year or later.

Bossier Schools understands the urgency related to this matter and parents’ need for concrete information and we will get those answers to you as soon as the Court weighs in. 

Posted 1/31/19

 

 

Photo of Bossier Parish Teachers of the Year Sarah Sterner, Ashley Holliday and Jenna WinklerThe final days before the holiday break were made even more exciting for three Bossier Parish teachers who were surprised by an entourage, led by Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith, that burst into their classrooms with exciting news. They were chosen to represent the district as the 2019-20 Teachers of the Year.  

Sarah Sterner is the Elementary Teacher of the Year. The Sun City Elementary educator has taught kindergarten the last nine years and has taken on numerous leadership roles, from Kindergarten Team Leader and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Facilitator to Spanish Club co-founder and co-sponsor and Response to Intervention (RTI) School Leadership Team Member.

“I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl,” Sterner said. “To get to live out my dream is truly a blessing. My goal as a teacher is to teach my children to communicate with one another in effective ways and to learn problem solving skills they can carry with them throughout life.”

The Bossier Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year is Ashley Holliday, who has taught mathematics for six years at Benton Middle School. Holliday is involved in numerous leadership roles including Math Department Chair at Benton Middle, Leadership Team member and a Level 2 Certified Google Educator. She has also served on multiple committees at the district level and was named the 2017 Louisiana Teachers of Mathematics (LATM) Outstanding Secondary School Mathematics Teacher.    

“I am a firm believer that EVERY child can learn, and that every child deserves a fresh start each day,” Holliday remarked. “Each Monday morning for the past year, I have made it a priority to begin my week by listening to a TED Talk by a woman named Rita Pierson. She speaks of the power of human connection and how meeting a student’s basic needs will get my foot in the door to help them learn. She speaks of how tough and heartbreaking our jobs can be at times, and the hardships our children go through … Each day, I remind myself of what Rita says. ‘Every child deserves a champion and adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists they become the best they can possible be.’ I want to be each and every child’s champion.”

A self-professed lover of learning, Jenna Winkler will represent Bossier Parish as the District High School Teacher of the Year. The Parkway High School English teacher has spent 10 years in education, the past seven of those in Bossier.

Winkler is a Content Leader at Parkway, assisting colleagues with curriculum, and was singled out for being an outstanding teacher at T.O. Rusheon and Haughton Middle Schools, where she previously taught.

“In my classroom, I try to represent the team effort philosophy,” Winkler explained. “I always want my students to understand that ‘we’re in this together,’ and I would do anything to keep them from feeling isolated in their endeavors. I believe in the power of collaboration and learning from peers because they will be working with various groups of people throughout their lifetime. Not only do I want them to be proud of their own academic achievements, but I also want them to value each other while encouraging their classmates in their academic progress.”

Winkler added, “I love being an educator because this is a profession unlike any other. I have the opportunity to watch my students progress and take ownership of their academics. Many of my students will positively impact society, and knowing that about them, makes my profession worth more than gold.”

Each school in Bossier Parish elects its own Teacher of the Year, who then competes at the district level. Sterner, Holliday and Winkler will now move on to the Regional Teacher of the Year competition in the spring with hopes of winning at that level and advancing as state finalists.

“These educators are already stand-outs at their schools, so to be chosen as our District Teachers of the Year speaks volumes about their expertise and passion for what they do,” said Superintendent Smith. “Teachers have the most important job there is, impacting children’s lives and helping to shape and mold them on their journey to success as adults. We thank each of our educators for what they do and congratulate the three who will advance to Regionals. They will represent Bossier Schools and all of us well.”

Posted 12/20/18