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Photo of Calley SchneiderTechnology queen. Robotics sponsor. Fixer of everything. Central Park Elementary computer lab teacher Calley Schneider is affectionately called many things. Now, she can add “Gold Star” to that list.

Schneider unwittingly became the center of attention at a Tuesday morning school assembly. She is not one who likes being cast in that role. Thanks, though, to numerous glowing nominations from her colleagues, Schneider was announced as the recipient of Bossier Schools’ Gold Star employee award for December. The gymnasium erupted in applause.

“Calley is such a big link in our chain!” read fellow teacher Paula Ash’s nomination letter. “She is the technology queen! She keeps all our computers up to snuff in a timely fashion. If you let her know something needs fixing, she is on it in a flash. She also has gotten our students all jazzed about technology through the robotics team. We would not run as smoothly without Calley keeping us all up to snuff! Love, love, love me some Mrs. Schneider!”

Other colleagues call her the “definition of above and beyond.” They commend Schneider for always being willing to help in any capacity she is asked, and going out of her way to do so, as well as for wearing so many hats -- all with a cheerful heart.

“So many times I’ve asked a question about technology in my classroom and before I can blink she’s in my room working on the issue herself. She’s not one to stand in the spotlight, but she deserves a gold star,” Heather Spivey said.

Julie Frederick echoed those sentiments, writing “Rather than just telling teachers and staff to submit tickets to technology for every problem they encounter, she first attempts to solve the issue herself.”

Frederick added, “Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Schneider can be found coaching the school robotics team, writing grants for school technology, keeping parents up to date on school activities and functions through our school Facebook page, creating the new school website and providing support to teachers who are interested in writing grants or using Google Apps through site-based workshops.”

Whew! That is a lot!

“Mrs. Schneider is a selfless person who jumps in anywhere she is needed,” added Principal Dr. Vicki Younger. “She gives her time and works hard to avoid personal praise. She is a strong team member. As the technology guru on staff, she can fix anything! She also works with our robotics team and has led them to several wins in recent years!”

“It’s very moving. I mean everyone likes to be appreciated and it makes me want to do more. It’s very motivating,” Schneider said softly after all the excitement sunk in.

This is Schneider’s seventh year teaching in Bossier Parish, although she has spent a total of 22 years in education. Since landing at Central Park, the former fourth grade teacher said she has no plans to go elsewhere.

“I love, love, love it here. I’m retiring here. You can’t get rid of me!” she laughed.

Schneider has especially enjoyed the challenges her role as computer lab teacher encompasses.

“I love learning new things and being in technology, I get to do that.” She further explained, “I get to see the littles all the way to the big ones. They test you in different ways.”

Schneider also loves to see that spark on children’s faces when they learn. It is one of the many reasons she professes her devotion to teaching, and what makes her shine from the inside out as a Gold Star.

 

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Bossier Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Gold Star Award, which is now in its seventh year. Know someone exemplary that works for Bossier Schools and deserves a Gold Star? Nominate them by going to https://bit.ly/C1Gvhr

Posted 12/11/18

 

Photo of Brock Cassel and Carson Braun with 4-H president and club sponsorWhen Benton High ninth grader Carson Braun and his family arrive November 29 in Tennessee for his checkup and to participate in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, they will be giving back to the place that has helped Carson defy all odds -- as well as another student.

Curing childhood cancer is something the Benton Elementary Tigers take to heart. Not only is Carson a former student, but his mom Ginger teaches kindergarten there. Fourth grader Brock Cassel is also a cancer survivor who received life-saving treatments from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and goes back for annual checkups, so the Tigers’ connection runs deep.

Knowing the Brauns planned to participate in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, Benton Elementary 4-H Club Leaders Londa Croall and Jennifer Allen pitched an idea to collect “Coins for Carson Braun and Brock Cassel,” and 4-H members ran with it at full speed.

A friendly, but fierce classroom coin competition ensued and in just four days, the Tigers collected more than $1,609. That’s not counting another $600 raised on Jeans Day.

Before the Brauns left for Memphis, 4-H Club President Emerson Fite made the presentation to the Brauns, Brock Cassel and his family. Stacy Craft’s second grade class was also thrilled to learn they collected the most money -- $195 -- and would be treated to a pizza party for their winning efforts. It was particularly special for Craft, who was Carson’s teacher at Benton Elementary.

Diagnosed in 2004 with a brain tumor, Carson’s prognosis was grim; he was only given a 30-percent chance of survival. His parents were also told he would never walk. But at St. Jude, miracles happen.

His mom remembers first seeing the St. Jude Memphis Marathon going on outside the hospital window when her young son was so sick and making a vow.

“I said ‘I’m going to do that,’” Ginger Braun recalled. This will be her 13th year to participate in the marathon. The entire Braun family -- uncle and grandparents included -- will be a part of it this year.

“It’s our way to give back and say thanks,” she added.

Speaking of miracles, Brock Cassel is another one. Diagnosed at 18-months-old, he has since earned his first-year, five-year and 2018 survivor pins. Brock’s deep gratitude for St. Jude was reflected in his donation of $100 in coins he had been collecting over time.

Yes, the connection to St. Jude runs deep at Benton Elementary, where the Tigers are sending their money and love to Memphis.

Posted 11/29/18

Photo of Janet Singleton, Gold Star winnerAsk anyone at Meadowview Elementary about Special Education teacher Janet Singleton and they will quickly say with a smile “you mean Queen Janet?” The beloved educator even has a crown and scepter to go along with the title.

Singleton has worked with Mild and Moderate students for an amazing 44 years in Bossier Parish; the last 33 of those at Meadowview. In that time, she has formed many relationships with and gained the respect of fellow teachers, administrators, parents and, most importantly, students.

Barbara Bland said, “Janet goes above and beyond for her students to learn. She teaches students with moderate to severe needs, but she meets them at their level to teach them life skills as well as academics. She cares about her students and their families and checks on them years after they have left her. Her dedication and commitment is unprecedented.”

Other colleagues gushed about Singleton’s quiet, humble manner, her incredible patience and the advocacy role she takes on for the students under her tutelage.

“I am absolutely amazed at the work Mrs. Singleton does,” Director of Special Education Lillian Holley said. “The transformation she is able to make happen in her classroom with her students is remarkable! Students have blossomed in her classroom. Some students have entered her classroom with very significant needs that have been addressed by Mrs. Singleton that are no longer an issue. I trust Mrs. Singleton to work with students and families. She is truly a Gold Star ... She has a calling and it shows!”

It is those sentiments, and many others, that led to Singleton being chosen as Bossier Schools’ Gold Star employee for November, an honor she was visibly stunned to receive at a school-wide assembly.

“I’ve always felt this was where I needed to be and where God wanted me to be,” she later said. “I will stand up for Meadowview any day of the week. It’s the whole building; the people I work with, that kind of thing. It is a family atmosphere and I love Dr. (Janice) Williams. I want to stress what a really good school this is.”

Singleton added she could not do it without two special ladies; paraprofessionals Diane Erlinger and Christine Golatt, who worked side by side with her for 20 years.

“If I didn’t have them I couldn’t do it, because they do everything I do,” Singleton added.  

No doubt it takes a special gift to do what Singleton does. She has 10 children in K-5 that remain with her the entire day, from the time school starts to when they leave on the bus. It is tiring, but she said it is the success stories and relationships that make it worth it.

“We’ve had a lot of success stories, and not just academic, although we have had those; but they (her students) may learn to feed themselves or become potty trained.”

Some children have even gone from being non-verbal to verbal; one almost miraculously so overnight.

“One child started talking out of the blue!” she exclaimed.

As for the bond she forms with her students, Singleton said “We get them for more than one year, so you would be surprised by the relationships you get to have that other people don’t. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, then two steps back, but we celebrate every move forward.”

This time, Bossier Schools and Meadowview Elementary are celebrating Janet Singleton who can now add a shiny gold star to her tiara. After all, she is the Gold Star winner ‘and’ the queen.

 

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Bossier Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Gold Star Award, which is now in its seventh year. Know someone exemplary that works for Bossier Schools and deserves a Gold Star? Nominate them by going to https://bit.ly/C1Gvhr

Posted 11/15/18

 

Photo of Lisa Burns, Dr. Kyle Machen and Jason RowlandBossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith is pleased to announce the three school administrators that will represent the district as the 2019-20 Principals of the Year.

Lisa Burns was chosen as Elementary Principal of the Year. Burns is principal at W.T. Lewis. Dr. Kyle Machen, principal at Benton Middle School, will represent Bossier Parish as Middle School Principal of the Year and Jason Rowland, Airline High School principal, was selected as the High School Principal of the Year.

Each of these educators met a stringent list of criteria, including demonstration of leadership, positively impacting student achievement, innovation in and outside of the school building walls, engaging with stakeholders and adding value to their profession. The Bossier Parish School Board District Principal of the Year Committee based its selections on the criteria established by the state Department of Education.

Burns, Machen and Rowland will now advance to the state level and compete among candidates from school districts throughout Louisiana for the overall title of 2019-20 Principal of the Year.

Bossier Schools commends these three educators for the excellence they exemplify, congratulates them for this honor and wishes them the best at State.

Posted 11/7/18

 

Two sailors are putting robotic gear on studentAnchors away! Sailors descended upon a half-dozen Bossier schools the last week of October to show students there is a lot more to the U.S. Navy than just sailing ships.

As part of a Navy outreach program, children at Apollo, Bellaire, Cope, Kingston, Princeton and Plain Dealing High School learned about meteorology and oceanography; underwater mapping and sea floor education; the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and underwater robotics, and other topics dealing with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Sailors from the USS Constitution were especially a hit. This unit is stationed aboard the oldest, commissioned ship in the Navy and sailors wore their 1813 Navy uniforms as they explained what it was like to be a sailor in the 19th century. Even in that era, science went into building and manning a ship.  

It was also a good chance for Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith and Force Master Chief Kevin Goodrich to discuss workforce needs and ways the two entities could collaborate.

Navy Week is not a recruiting drive, but rather an opportunity to focus on educating the public about the Navy mission. It is also geared toward giving children a first-hand look at how STEM fields are applied in the Navy and to excite them about science and technology.

Posted 11/1/18

 

 

Photo of three members of the Be Kind Crew in a classroom with studentsAcross the country, news headlines are focused on respect and responsibility.  Schools in Bossier Parish are doing something about it.

Working together to create a positive learning environment that will serve both students and teachers, Bossier Schools and The Be Kind People Project (a 501c3 non-profit)  came together the week of October 22 to present a comprehensive youth development program based on kindness towards others.

Seven members of THE BE KIND CREW® —a group of over 40 highly talented professional urban dancers and education specialists who serve as an inspiration and positive role examples for students nationwide — visited R.V. Kerr Elementary and Stockwell Place Elementary, the same schools they visited two years ago.

“Based on ten skill sets of The Be Kind Pledge™, The Be Kind People Project works in an innovative and proactive way to help kids learn what TO do instead of what NOT to do,” said Chief Programs and Services Officer, Bo Whittenton. “We’ve been called the best anti-bullying program available to schools and we never even say the word “bully” to the kids at any time.  Instead, we help kids to understand that it’s COOL to be kind.”

Thanks to a partnership grant secured with the Department of Defense and Education Activity, Bossier Schools has implemented the Be Kind People Project at R.V. Kerr and Stockwell Place Elementary Schools for the last three years.

“Our goal with this grant is to support the social emotional needs of our military children as well as promote positive behavior and encourage friendships between our military students and our non-military students,” said Georgette Price, DoDEA Grants/Military Services Manager for Bossier Schools. “The focus of this program is to teach students how to put kindness into action, and it has been so exciting to see how each school has adopted the pledge; from a buddy bench at Stockwell to a Kindness Club at Kerr.”

“We’ve been so impressed with the commitment of the schools and the community.  This is something very special to have such broad support, and we think that the town will feel the positive effects,” Whittenton said.   “In addition, we celebrate teachers, we thank them, and we encourage kids to do the same.”

Recently, The Be Kind People Project released an original music video and song dedicated to an attitude of gratitude for our nation’s teachers.   It was performed live by THE BE KIND CREW while they were in Bossier, but you can view the video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VgnAybwQhY 

 

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The Be Kind People Project® (BKPP) is a Phoenix-based 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on initiating positive social change in schools to improve the learning environment for student academic achievement, ameliorate unwanted behavior issues (including bullying and cyberbullying), and provide a framework for responsible and enduring youth development.

BKPP’s innovative and culturally relevant programs link social, emotional, academic, civic, teacher appreciation, wellness, digital responsibility, online safety, and character education with a high energy, interactive approach that CONNECTS with students through the voice, attitude, and urban dance of THE BE KIND CREW™. 

The Be Kind Pledge™, at the core of the program, offers a foundation for developing a personal code of conduct and enduring values to prepare students to be caring, contributing, and respectful family members, citizens, and leaders.

Since its inception, BKPP has delivered over 30 million character education resources to more than 6 million students in 14 states, 96% in Title 1 schools.

Its BE KIND Break, an online learning program, is used in 493 cities worldwide.    

Posted 10/26/18

 

Shandrick Tasby is pictured with a student in the classroomShandrick Tasby received exciting news last week. The Plantation Park Elementary teacher has been chosen as the LACUE Teacher of the Year for Region 7.

LACUE, the acronym for Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators, is an organization that encourages and recognizes innovation in teacher technology use.  Tasby is a leader in technology not only at PPE, but also in Bossier Parish.

He has trained the PPE staff and teachers at other schools in creative ways to integrate technology into their classrooms. He will be recognized in November at the State Conference in New Orleans.

Bossier Schools congratulates Shandrick Tasby.

Posted 10/22/18

 

 

Photo of LaJuana Stephens pictured with studentsSchool counselor LaJuana Stephens arrived on the scene at Plantation Park Elementary 16 years ago, and she has never looked back. She loves her PPE Ponies with all her heart and is here to stay.

“I love everything about it; the kids, parents, staff, administration. It truly is one big, happy family,” Stephens said.

They love her, too, and it is evident by the glowing remarks everyone has to say about her. One of Stephens’ colleagues calls her “one of the most encouraging, positive, caring and dedicated individuals I know. She is a woman that truly puts her heart and soul into her work and students.”

Assistant Principal Kim Hawkins says “There is not enough space to tell you about how amazing Mrs. Stephens is. She is my Partner In Crime (PIC). I can call her at any moment and she will come to my office to help me with a student in a heartbeat. She has an amazing relationship with all students and can help just about any student! She quietly does her job and about a thousand other things without expecting any praise or recognition.”

Principal Tonya Hilburn added, “When you enter the doors of PPE each morning, she is one of the first smiles you will see! She NEVER misses an opportunity to hug, high five and fist bump a child, and I mean she literally never misses a day! She has perfect attendance year after year because the thought of our students not having her for even just one day is unbearable for her! She is the type of counselor that instills in our students to not be punished by their problems but led by their dreams!”

After reading these stories, and 22 others like them singing Stephens’ praises, it is no wonder she was chosen as Bossier Schools’ Gold Star winner for September. The surprise announcement was met with much ado. Picture a school-wide assembly and red carpet runway; gold star-shaped balloons; children holding signs proclaiming ‘You Rock!’ and her family there from near and far, bearing a bouquet of roses.

Stephens did not know what to think at first, but was quickly moved to tears.

“I think when I saw my family that’s when it registered,” the Gold Star recipient recalled afterward. “I am just truly humbled. I think someone said it (the Gold Star award) is the highest compliment when it comes from your peers. You never know who you are touching.”

When asked what she loves so much about PPE, Stephens was quick to say “We’re all in it together.”

The positivity exuded at Plantation Park is something else that speaks to her heart.

“Speaking from a mom, you want to be somewhere where your child is loved, and they are loved here. They’re going to learn and they are loved.”

Stephens was also adamant about giving credit to two women in her life; her current and former principals.

“I have to give Mrs. Hilburn credit. She has really changed the climate and culture of the school and it is a team effort … and I will forever be grateful to Mrs. (Carolyn) Moody. I’m not from here and she took a chance on me and hired me and it was my goal for her to never regret hiring me.”

No regrets, for sure. As far as students and colleagues are concerned, LaJuana Stephens is as good as golden -- and now has the Gold Star to prove it.

“As much as they say I give to them, they give to me and I truly believe to whom much is given, much is required,” Stephens concluded. “I say even on my worst days, I still love my job.”

 

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Bossier Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Gold Star Award, which is now in its seventh year. Know someone exemplary that works for Bossier Schools and deserves a Gold Star? Nominate them by going to https://bit.ly/C1Gvhr

Posted 9/20/18