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Photo of Taylor Henry, Caroline Moore and Katie BowlinThe atmosphere was electric as news quickly spread throughout Bossier Parish that the 2019 Students of the Year were being announced.

Accompanied by an entourage of educators, Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith made surprise visits January 16 to three schools to announce Taylor Henry had been chosen as Elementary Student of the Year, Caroline Moore as Middle School Student of the Year and Katie Bowlin as High School Student of the Year.

Henry is a fifth grader at W.T. Lewis Elementary who excels academically and in numerous other ways. She is a cheerleader at her school, participates in 4-H, FCA, Destination Imagination and performs in plays and theatrical productions. Henry also has a tremendous heart for helping others in need, having raised more than $10,000 to assist hurricane victims in Louisiana.

Moore is an eighth grade student at Benton Middle and actively involved in Student Council, FCA, First Priority and Destination Imagination. She is also a member of the Cross Country and Archery teams, plays soccer with CABOSA, and serves the community through her church. Her passion is shown through her interactions with the Lighthouse Foundation, Providence House and mission trips to Haiti.

Bowlin is a senior at Benton High and active member of Student Council, Tiger Girls danceline, FCA and First Priority. She has been involved in the National Honor Society, Gold Jackets, Bossier Youth Leadership and Special Olympics. One of her most notable accomplishments is being recognized as the Pay It Forward Networking Volunteer of the Year. Following graduation in May 2019, Bowlin plans to attend Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and major in Mass Communications with a concentration in Political Communications, then attend LSU Law School.

“These three young ladies are exemplary students and servant leaders and we could not be more proud than to have them represent Bossier Schools as the Parish Students of the Year,” Smith said.

Henry, Moore and Bowlin will now advance to the Regional Student of the Year competitions to be held next month in northwest Louisiana and be honored at the March 7 Bossier Parish School Board meeting by Student of the Year sponsor Citizens National Bank.

Posted 1/16/19

Billie Jo Brotherton passes gavel to 2019 School Board President Shane CheathamA new face will now be front and center at Bossier Parish School Board meetings as District 11 Representative Shane Cheatham takes the helm as President for 2019. He was passed the gavel by 2018 School Board President Billie Jo Brotherton during a January 11 ceremony. Serving as Cheatham’s Vice President is District 12 School Board member Dennis Bamburg, Jr.

A new slate of Bossier School Board members were also sworn into office by Bossier Parish Clerk of Court Jill Sessions. Kent Bockhaus will now serve as District 2 Representative; Tammy
Smith will serve the constituents in District 3 and Duane Deen will be the District 4 School Board member.

Returning Bossier Parish School Board members are: Billie Jo Brotherton, District 1; Michael Mosura, District 5; Glen Bullard, District 6; J.W. Slack, District 7; Kenneth Wiggins, District 8; Eric Newman, District 9; and Sandra “Samm” Darby, District 10.

A graduate of Bossier Schools, Cheatham and his wife, Sam, have  two children currently attending schools in the district. His first order of business after introducing his family was to outline his vision and priorities for 2019 as Bossier Parish School Board President.

Below is the speech President Cheatham delivered to the attentive audience. Please join Bossier Schools in wishing President Cheatham well as he guides our district over the course of 2019.

 

Good evening. I feel very blessed and humbled to be here tonight and become the President of the Bossier Parish School Board for 2019. As a product of the Bossier Parish School system,  and having two children currently in our system, it is an honor to have the opportunity to work with my fellow board members, our superintendent, our staff, and our community stakeholders.

I have very big shoes to fill, sitting in this chair after Mrs. Billie Jo Brotherton, but I promise to work just as hard as she did and continue to do the things that are in the best interest of Bossier Parish Schools.

In 2019, we will have many important things to accomplish as a board. Our biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is hiring and retaining great teachers and employees. Bossier Parish has not given our teachers a substantial pay raise in over 20 years. We must address this, and we must be more competitive so that we can recruit the best teachers possible, as well as retaining the teachers we have hired, trained, and mentored. If Bossier Parish wants to continue to be the best, we have to recruit the best talent, and we have to address the fact that our neighboring parishes currently pay their teachers more than we do.  Bossier Parish is second to none in my opinion and it is time to take back our title as the best school system to work for in the State of Louisiana.

As a board we will have many other exciting and important things to accomplish in 2019. We have a need to address our technology infrastructure in our schools. Our classrooms are requiring more technology at each school, but our infrastructure has not been addressed to fit our current and future needs. We have to address this issue very soon and equip our educators with the technology they need to successfully teach our children.

In 2019 we will open the new Benton High School. We will see a new classroom wing open at Sun City Elementary School, new Restrooms and Concessions at Parkway High School’s baseball and softball fields, and we will begin other improvements to Bossier High School’s stadium and turf field; a turf field that has been great for our community and has been used by many of our parish’s students, from our elementary school students to our high school students.

In 2019, we will have our Bossier Schools' 2nd annual i3 Art Expo, which will be Feb. 14-16 at the Bossier Civic Center.

Last year's inaugural event was a huge success, bringing together thousands of students, families and community members in a showcase of Bossier Parish children's talents. It is a true community effort. The City of Bossier City is once again our co-sponsor and we have Cyber Innovation Center and numerous other community partners that have eagerly jumped on board to support Bossier Schools' efforts.

We have a lot of work to do in 2019, but as you can see we also have a lot of exciting things going on in our parish. We are growing faster than ever. We are setting the bar higher in the classrooms. We are all working together for the benefit our our community. I am blessed to represent District 11 in South Bossier, and I plan to keep working hard for every student and constituent that I represent.

In closing, I would like to thank a few people. First, I would like to thank all the board members that supported and voted for me as our President in 2019, and I look forward to serving with each of you. I would also like to thank all of our Bossier Schools employees for the time and energy they give towards educating our children.

Finally, I would like to thank my family for supporting me. It will be a busy 2019, but with the support of my loving wife, Sam, my amazing daughter, Olivia, and my mini-me, Hunter, I look forward to a great year as President of the Bossier Parish School Board.

Posted 1/11/19

Photo of Spencer Kiper in Louisiana Life magazineBossier Schools’ own Spencer Kiper can add yet another title to his growing repertoire. The 2019 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year has been named by Louisiana Life magazine as one of nine Louisianans of the Year.

Kiper is an award-winning STEM educator at Elm Grove Middle School who is being singled out by the magazine for thinking outside the box to expose his students to the real-world applications and possibilities of science, technology, engineering and math.

Outside of the classroom, Kiper is educating teachers at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama to build STEM programs at their schools and most recently in Abu Dhabi. .

There is no question Kiper is a rock star in Bossier Schools’ eyes. Now, others throughout the state, nation and world are seeing for themselves why he has been chosen among the select group of 2019 Louisianans of the Year.

Posted 1/8/19

Flier for Jamie Vollmer presentation at 8 a.m. Monday, January 7 at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier CityWhat do blueberries have to do with public education? Everything, as respected businessman and attorney Jamie Vollmer learned after being taken to task by a teacher after he vocally condemned public schools.

Once a harsh critic, Vollmer is now an award-winning champion of public education and author of the highly acclaimed book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone, and creator of the video series “The Great Conversation.” He will be speaking at 8:00 a.m. Monday, January 7 at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City and I would like to personally extend this invitation for you to attend.

Why, you ask? Because we need your support to create a community-wide climate that supports student achievement. It is no secret public education is under attack, including right here in Bossier Parish. The increased expectations and federal and state mandates heaped onto today's public school educator are mind boggling, especially when compared to just a decade or two ago. It is no wonder fewer are going into the teaching profession and others are making early exits.

Using his own transformation as a backdrop, Jamie Vollmer will speak directly to our civic and elected leaders, business owners and community stakeholders about the challenges facing our children and schools and make a powerful case to increase community support.

All I ask of community leaders and stakeholders is for 45 minutes of your time, although you are welcome to stay longer. Mr. Vollmer will conclude his community presentation at 8:45 a.m., then continue speaking with every employee at Bossier Schools during an in-service.

Admission is free, though you are asked to RSVP your attendance to Public Relations Liaison Sonja Bailes at Sonja.Bailes@BossierSchools.org by January 4, 2019.    

I look forward to you joining us for this critical conversation that will help determine the course public education takes in Bossier Parish and for you to hear Jamie Vollmer’s “blueberry story” that turned this harsh critic into a fierce advocate.  

 

Sincerely,

 

~Scott Smith

Superintendent, Bossier Schools

Posted 12/20/18

 

 

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

 

 

Group photo of grant recipientsSanta and Mrs. Claus made a special trip Monday, December 17 from the North Pole to Bossier with $50,000 in hand for 29 teachers that have been on the “nice” list.

Thanks to the generous support of the Biedenharn Foundation, two dozen classroom grant submissions were funded as part of the Sydney Biedenharn Educators Endowment, established five years ago in memory of the late educator and heir of Coca-Cola Bottling Operations in Shreveport.

This year marks 77 classroom grants totaling $155,000 that have been awarded to Bossier Parish teachers by the Biedenharn Foundation. Sydney Biedenharn's daughter Reina Walker Bailey said it is especially exciting to hear the recipients’ plans of how they will put the grant money to use in their classrooms to further encourage student learning.

Elementary winners of the 2018-19 Sydney Biedenharn Educators Endowment are: Meredith Starks and Sarah Hatcher, Bellaire; Calley Schneider, Central Park; Lea Anne Nelson, Curtis; Lisa McGee and Lee Sojourner, Elm Grove Elementary; Shana Houston, Haughton Elementary; Toni Ward, Legacy; Katie Muslow, W.T. Lewis; Dawn Fausto, Meadowview; Rachel Burks, Plantation Park; Dee Jordan, Plantation Park; and Karen Mitchell, Waller.

Middle School recipients are: Tracey Sarvis, Benton Middle; Rachel Valentine, Benton Middle; Linda Morgan, Benton Middle; Elizabeth Vance and Charlene Cooper, Cope; Rhonda Samuels, Cope; Cameron Beckham and Spencer Kiper, Elm Grove Middle; John Kendrick, Elm Grove Middle; Kara Stephenson, Elm Grove Middle; and Beauchamp Powers, Haughton Middle.

Winners from the high school level are: Martha Claire Lepore, Airline; Gayla Fowler, Bossier High School Virtual Learning Academy; Eunice Maris, Haughton High; and Talented Arts Instructors Shelton Meacham and Steve Porter, who are based at Parkway.

Bossier Schools would like to congratulate this year’s recipients and express gratitude to the Biedenharn Foundation for investing in our teachers and students.

Posted 12/18/18

 

Photo of Bossier Parish Schools busBeginning in January 2019, Bossier Schools Transportation will begin using the “Remind” notification system to alert parents when buses are running late. To register for notifications, please click on this Link to instructions.

Posted 12/14/18

 

Bossier Parish School Board logoFor 25 years, Bossier Parish School Board has received an Award of Financial Reporting Achievement (AFRA) for its fiscal management. Make that 26 years.

Director of Finance Frank Rougeau recently got word from the Government Finance Officers Association the School Board has attained the Certificate of Achievement, which is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. It represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its money management practices.

When a Certificate of Achievement is awarded to a government, an Award of Financial Reporting Achievement is also presented to the individual or department designated by the government as primarily responsible for its having earned the Certificate.

This is a notable achievement earned by Rougeau and the Finance Department and they are to be commended for exhibiting fiduciary responsibility with Bossier Parish public funds for 26 consecutive years.

Posted 11/14/18

Photo of Stewart ThompsonJust as technology is ever evolving, so is Stewart Thompson.

His career began at Benton High where, during his 13 years teaching, he built one of the top AP calculus programs in the region. Thompson went on to continue his education, earning a Master’s degree in educational technology leadership. Then in July 2016, he was tapped to lead Bossier Schools’ Technology Department and has quickly become the technology guru of the fastest growing public school system in north Louisiana.

Thompson’s accomplishments are many. In just the first two years under his direction, the district has seen significant growth in the number of student devices, network infrastructure upgrades and the launch of an online applicant portal. The list goes on and on, and is why Bossier Schools’ Supervisor of Technology has been selected among the region’s 40 most dynamic and engaged young professionals.

Each year, the Greater Shreveport Chamber’s Young Professionals Initiative (YPI) has spotlighted the top 40 movers and shakers in the community. More than 400 individuals to date have been recognized for the honor of being in YPI’s “40 Under 40” class.  It is a chance to celebrate and highlight those who are both excelling in their profession and making an impact in the community.

That defines Stewart Thompson to a ‘T.’ Join Bossier Schools in congratulating him for this well-deserved honor and wishing him luck as he competes in December for the title of overall Young Professional of the Year.

 

Posted 11/13/18

Photo of Suanne McConathySuanne McConathy has been making a difference in Bossier Parish students’ lives for over 19 years. As coordinator and through her leadership, she manages the speech therapy program for the district’s 34 schools, encompassing every elementary, middle and high school.

While Bossier Schools has long known what a gem McConathy is, she is now being recognized in a different venue as one of 16 ATHENA Leadership Award nominees.

Each year, the Business Development Connection honors 16 area individuals that attain and personify the highest level of excellence and creativity in their business or profession, while continuing to devote time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community. Another criteria of ATHENA is that nominees actively assist other women in achieving their full leadership through service and mentorship.

McConathy develops and implements professional development for 35 Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP), provides assistance to them to enhance the speech therapy services indirectly impacting over 1,600 Bossier Parish students and participates in Child Find screening services.

She has served as an SLP in numerous schools, 13 of those years spent at Stockwell Place Elementary. McConathy is an experienced leader in speech language pathology, a mentor to up-and-coming SLPs, a wife and mother to two children.

The ATHENA Leadership Award was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenments -- qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model. The award is unique in both scope -- local, national and international -- and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based.

Congratulations to ATHENA Award nominee Suanne McConathy!

Posted 11/13/18