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Group of students and teachers on Bossier Elementary Schools  new walking trackWhen students at Bossier Elementary and Plantation Park Elementary Schools return from summer break, they will be putting their best foot forward on campus.

Thanks to a “Kids On the Move” grant applied for on behalf of Bossier Schools by Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments, improved pedestrian safety and traffic improvements were made in addition to the construction of walking tracks.  

Better visibility is key, given the large number of students that are walkers at both schools. Bossier Elementary now sports improved crosswalks, flashers , traffic markings and signage as does Plantation Park, with the addition of a parent drop-off lane and sidewalk. 

“We are so thankful to the many agencies that made the walking track and traffic improvements a reality for our children,” said Tonya Hilburn, Principal at Plantation Park Elementary. “It is not just a win for PPE, but for the community. Our parents are so grateful knowing their child’s safety is first and foremost, from the moment they arrive to when they leave school.”  

“This is another example of Bossier being progressive and getting it done,” said Kent Rogers, NLCOG Executive Director. “We are proud to be a part of this and look forward to future opportunities that focus on quality of life and position Bossier Schools to further enhance the safety of its campuses.” 

Federal Highway Administration funds for the “Kids On the Move” program provide infrastructure grants through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. NLCOG was the local agency that served as project administrator for the two school projects. 

Posted 6/24/19

 

Photo of Lisa BurnsW.T. Lewis Elementary Principal Lisa Burns was named a state Finalist for Principal of the Year at the 2020 Teacher and Principal of the Year awards reception, hosted by First Lady Donna Edwards and Dream Teachers, LLC, at the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion.

“Teachers and principals are two of Louisiana’s greatest assets, and when we invest in them, we invest in our children,” said First Lady Donna Edwards. “Educators often go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the success of students, and this honor recognizes the exemplary dedication and skills they bring to the classroom every day. Their work is helping to create a brighter future for our young people and our state.”

This year, school systems submitted more than 200 nominations for Teacher and Principal of the Year. The Department named 48 semi-finalists in April 2019. A state team then narrowed that pool to the 18 finalists; nine for Teacher of the Year and nine for Principal of the Year. Burns will soon participate in face-to-face interviews with selection committees led by community and education leaders. The selection committees will ultimately choose the state division-level and overall winners.

Burns and the other finalists and semi-finalists will be honored, and the overall state-level winners will be announced, at the 13th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration on Friday, July 19, 2019, at the Crowne Plaza Executive Center in Baton Rouge.

The event is co-sponsored by Dream Teachers, a nonprofit organization that partners with businesses, industry representatives, and organizations throughout the state to recognize and reward educators who model instructional excellence and dedication to serve the needs of children.

Burns has served as an educator for 22 years in Bossier Schools. Her teaching career began at Stockwell Place Elementary and after 11 years in the classroom, was named Assistant Principal at  W.T. Lewis Elementary in 2008 and took the reins as Principal five years later.

Posted 6/3/19

 

Photo of pen pals Pleasant Burns and Brody MeadorThey may be generations apart, but fourth grade students at Legacy Elementary learned they have many things in common with their new friends at The Blake of Bossier City, not to mention they formed lasting bonds.

Legacy ELA teachers Jennifer Hartley and Libbi Lange came up with the idea to begin a Pen Pal Program and connect their students with residents at the assisted living facility. At school, they discussed how people communicated through letter writing before the age of technology. Hartley said it also gave students the chance to review cursive letters and writing formats.

What happened next exceeded their wildest expectations. Over the past few months, students and residents exchanged letters, getting to know each other through their life stories, some of them deeply personal.

“It has been fun seeing the excitement in my students’ faces opening their letters and reading them to learn more about someone from a different generation and time,” Hartley said. “Some of our pen pals are even World War II veterans and have shared their stories.”

Their enthusiasm bubbled over when students learned The Blake was hosting a Pen Pal Reveal Party and they would get to meet the men and women behind the letters and put faces to them. After each resident and staff member was introduced, their younger pen pals eagerly went to meet them face to face.

Meador’s pen pal was 98-year-old Pleasant Burns, a World War II Army veteran, who cried as the two talked. Meador never left Burns’ side, except to fetch him a cookie and punch.

“I thought it was cool he was a World War II veteran,” Meador said. “He told me he went all over the world twice.”

Legacy student Macee Downey learned her pen pal, Carolyn Flanagan, likes movies and to go out to eat. As for Flanagan’s writing buddy?

“She’s getting a horse! I told her I would like to go see her barrel race,” Flanagan said proudly.

Clarence Boose, also a World War II Air Force veteran, came bearing gifts for his pen pal, Parker Dean. The two rocked in chairs and chatted as if they had known each other for years. One thing Boose said they wrote about in their letters was how school has changed over the decades.

“When I was in school, whoever heard of keyboarding?” Boose said. “We were graded on penmanship. One common thread, though, is math because 2+2 is still 4.”  

Hartley was deeply moved by the scene that played out in front of her and the stories students have since shared since the Pen Pal Reveal. It is something Hartley hopes to continue each year, teaching not only the lost art of letter writing, but bridging the perceived generation gap that may really not be as wide as one might think.

Posted 5/21/19

 

Clip art of a bookworm and a stack of booksBy: Kim Howell

Louisiana School Librarian of the Year

Stockwell Place Elementary Librarian  


 

School libraries are not what they used to be. They have come a long way.

What you will see today when you walk into our library at Stockwell Place Elementary is a class of 5th graders collaborating, using Flip Grid to express their opinions, voting for their choice of LYRC book, working on a Nearpod  or Kahoot lesson, uploading lessons and creations on Google Classroom, coding, playing chess or checkers, designing, creating, word collecting, researching, painting kindness rocks, practicing mindfulness, perusing the library for that perfect book to read and reading.   

Kindergarten classes are learning Spalding sounds and sign language for each letter, learning a song in sign language, practicing sight words, listening to a story, learning how to check out books independently, creating, thinking, learning the love of reading ...

The libraries of today are productive places that accentuate the student’s ability to think. Diversity is prevalent in our libraries, from books to learning styles, allowing students to see themselves and own their learning.  The library is a place of standard-based learning where every child is welcome and nurtured.

Acquiring the books, digital tools, and makerspace materials has proven to be challenging at times.  However, through seven fully funded Donors Choose grants, 16 Scholastic Book Fairs, one Extron sound system grant, multiple technology equipment winnings, Twitter contests, book bingo night and donations from our parents, community and our own pockets,  we have built a library that is well-equipped for learning.

Librarians today collaborate with their teachers,  are renaissance administrators for their school campus, facilitate Guidebooks, teach 37 classes, offer programs that help struggling students, all the while with an unquenchable  desire to keep the library open bell to bell for students and staff.

Teacher Librarians in our schools are a valuable resource often taken for granted and improperly utilized. They play a vital educative role in our schools.  Research suggests the presence of a qualified librarian in school libraries is associated with better student performance in literacy. Schools and policy-makers wishing to improve students’ literacy outcomes should invest in school libraries and our dual-qualified teacher librarians, listen to the certified librarian and adapt to the changes  required to have exemplary library programs for our students.

The role of the school library and school librarian is two-fold.  The first is to foster a love of reading in each and every student and thereby, make our students lifelong learners. Secondly, librarians are here to teach critical thinking and information literacy as well as collaborate with our teachers to enhance learning in the classroom. 

Librarians are the unicorns of the school campus; unique, diverse, strategic, and passionate about fostering the love of reading.   

 

Kim Howell is the 2019 Louisiana School Librarian of the Year, the 2017 Louisiana Library Association James O. Modissette Recipient, Elementary Library Award and serves on numerous local and state library and education boards.   

Posted 5/16/19

 

Photo of W.T. Lewis Elementary principal Lisa BurnsLisa Burns is not only Bossier Schools’ Elementary Principal of the Year, but now a semi-finalist for Louisiana Principal of the Year.

Chosen from a field of outstanding principals throughout the state, the W.T. Lewis Elementary School principal will be honored and celebrated in July at the 13th annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala in Baton Rouge, at which time the 2020 Principal of the Year will be named.  

Burns has served as an educator for 22 years in Bossier Schools. Her teaching career began at Stockwell Place Elementary and after 11 years in the classroom, took an administrative turn. Burns was named Assistant Principal at W.T. Lewis in 2008 and took the reins as Principal five years later.

Recognized in her community as a passionate and innovative leader, Burns said she is committed to the success of her students and maintaining a standard of excellence. W.T. Lewis Elementary has earned an ‘A’ rating every year of her principalship, and in 2018 was named a Top Gains School and earned the Equity Honoree award from the Louisiana Department of Education.

Burns leads with heart and purpose, inspiring students and educators to find their strengths and be their best. She strives to provide a highly engaging, supportive learning environment where children and adults thrive, succeed and continue to grow.

“Lisa Burns has an amazing heart for kids and it is evident,” Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey said. “She understands the student is the priority and goes above and beyond when there is a child in need. Not only does she recognize it, but she acts on it. She is an outstanding principal and there could not be a better educator to represent Bossier Schools at the state level than her.”

If chosen as Louisiana Principal of the Year, Burns plans to share at the state level how she has inspired positive change in her school through collaboration, collective responsibility for student learning, cultural shifts and commitment to the purpose as educators.

Posted 4/24/19

 

Photo of a girl smiling while planting vegetables in the school gardenSchool gardens are a great way for children to learn about nutrition and that is exactly what R.V. Kerr Elementary is working on.

The school received a grant from the LSU Ag Center to implement a school garden. There are many benefits to a school garden. Students will taste and learn about healthy foods, develop teamwork skills as they learn how to grow veggies, and learn to value the work of the people who grow the food we eat.

They have transplanted cucumbers and squash, added some pollinator plants and will soon transplant tomatoes. The Kerr Kats are excited to watch their garden grow!

Posted 4/24/19

Stock image of a bullseye targetIt was a complete shut out at the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) state tournament, with Bossier Parish teams taking home the top prize in every division.

Benton Elementary, Benton Middle and Haughton High School won first place in both the Bullseye and 3D competitions in each of their divisions, making them the reigning State Champions.  

Several archers won first place in their individual categories as well. In the Bullseye, they are: Victoria McClung, Stockwell Place Elementary, 1st out ot 160; Cassidy Waters, Benton Middle, 1st out of 165; Aiden Haire, Benton High, 1st out of 110; and Amber Long, Benton High, 1st out of 126.

In the 3D competition, Anna Young from Benton Elementary came out number one of 82 in the elementary girls category and Spencer Campbell, Kingston Elementary, was 1st among the 71 elementary male archers.  Thomas Allen, Benton Middle, came in 1st out of 122; Taylor Bourn, Haughton Middle, placed 1st out of 88; Aiden Jones, Haughton High, placed 1st out of 57 and Amber Long, Benton High, placed 1st out of 47.

For complete rankings, click here for the Bullseye competition and here for the 3D state tournament.

Several archers also took home scholarships for their prowess with the bow and arrow. Winning scholarships in the Bullseye are: Aidan Haire, Benton High and Cassidy Walters, Benton Middle, $3,000; Mallory Benton, Haughton Middle, $2,000; Amber Long, Benton High, $1,000; Julia Drozdz, Cope Middle and Brady Duncan, Benton High, $500; and Aidan Jones, Haughton High, and Emma Rutledge, Benton Middle, $250.

Cashing in on 3D scholarships are: Thomas Allen, Benton Middle and Taylor Bourn, Haughton Middle, $1,500; Aiden Jones, Haughton High and Emma Rutledge, Benton Middle, $1,000; and Ethan Isaksen and Cassidy Walters, Benton Middle, $750.

Practice is on now for the U.S. Eastern National Tournament, which will be May 9-11 in Louisville, KY. Congratulations to all of our archery teams and best of luck at Nationals. Here is to hitting the bullseye!

Posted 4/16/19

 

 

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