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Photo of Rusheon Softball Coach Sarah JonesA sports team’s success is, oftentimes, defined by season stats; but numbers do not always reveal the real story.

Three years ago, Sarah Jones was fresh out of college with her education degree in hand. Hired on as the girls’ Physical Education Coach at T.O. Rusheon Middle School, Jones admits she had a few reservations, yet was hopeful, eager and ready to work. It was a busy year and the start of a journey that has helped shape, mold and define Jones’ success.

“We utilize coaches a lot here at Rusheon. You aren’t coach of just one thing. Everyone is involved in everything,” Jones explained.

Year one found Jones on the court and in the field helping coach basketball and softball, a sport mostly unfamiliar to the Lady Rams. She vividly remembers the scrimmage game against Benton Middle, where Jones played softball as a student. The Tigers’ coach was the same as when she played ball; Wade Brooks.

“It was super emotional. I was no longer the student, but a coach,” Jones said. “I knew in that moment I had a goal to inspire students like he (Coach Brooks) had me.”

Her second year, danceline was added to Jones’ plate, an addition she called “challenging.” It was not until year three, the current year at hand, that Coach Jones said everything clicked. She was made head softball coach -- and she established real relationships with her team members.

“It’s been absolutely amazing this year! I’ve never been more proud to work at Rusheon and with these kids,” Jones exclaimed.

What made this year different? Jones said she had to reach into herself and make adjustments.  

“I had to find value and passion in the game and show students it’s a game worth falling in love with,” she said. “I saw the girls come into their own, take ownership and believe in themselves. I saw them falling in love with the game. They were fierce. They were in it and giving it everything they could.”

Others noticed the transformation, too, including the girls’ spirit and sportsmanship. Jones still gets emotional talking about the Bossier Press Tribune notifying her Coach Wade Brooks had nominated her for Coach of the Year. It is a title she now holds for the 2018-19 school year.   

“I’ll never forget the moment I read the email. Just to be nominated, it felt like I scored a home run. He’s been so much of a mentor coach for me,” Coach Jones said. She added, “I’m totally humbled to be given this title and when my athletes learned about it, they were so excited!”

Though theirs may not be considered by sports pundits as a ‘winning season,’ again, stats do not always tell the story behind the story; especially in the case of the Lady Rams’ Softball Team.

As Coach Jones will now tell everyone, “They have a goal. They have ambition. They want to stay in the game.”

Posted 5/21/19

 

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

 

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

 

Group photo of Rising Stars honoreesThe middle school years can be tough, but 16 students from across the parish were recently recognized by the Bossier Optimist Club and honored with the Rising Stars award for their perseverance and turning their lives around.

Started many years ago by late Optimist Club member Cecil Strickland, the Rising Stars award singles out students who faced challenges with academics, behavior and attitude but overcame them.

Greenacres Middle School Assistant Principal Martha Stevenson commented with great pride, “It has taken a village, but she’s come a long way,” referring to Tiffany Thomas, one of the honorees. “At the end, she’s done it. She’s made a complete turnaround.”  

As for Kai Aarron, Stevenson told the audience “He liked to fight a lot, but has changed his tune. He’s gone from regular classes to honors classes. Hands down, he was our choice.”

When Haughton Middle School Assistant Principal Wendy Lee spoke about Johntravius Bell, she beamed.

“I am so proud of the behavioral change he’s made. He decided over the summer it was time he quit being a knucklehead,” laughed Lee and Bell’s mother. “He was chosen on his improved behavior and grades. He’s now on the honor roll.”

Honorees included: Ke’rin Roberson and Claire Sprankle, Benton Middle; Nakyah Cook and Kelly Kearns, Butler Educational Complex; Layla Harris and Diego Trego, Cope; Ariah Mitchell and Josthin Quiacain-Ovando, Elm Grove; Kai Aarron and Tiffany Thomas, Greenacres; Johntravius Bell and Richard “Aaron” Ober, Haughton Middle; Carliegh Mullenueaux and Derrel Williams, Rusheon; and Destiny Boyd and Cassidy Thompson, Plain Dealing.

“Hearing these stories lets me know we are doing something right,” Bossier Optimist Club President Quincy Gardner remarked.

Bossier Schools Superintendent said the Rising Stars program is, by far, far one of his favorites when he made heartfelt remarks to the honorees and their families.

“This program is an example of what you can do when you are determined to make positive choices,” Downey said. “You’ve seen both sides; the benefits and rewards of positive choices and the consequences of bad one. Look back where you have been and forward to where you want to go.”

Posted 5/6/19

 

Photo of Nicole Addison holding giant cookie cakeAs a military spouse, Nicole Addison has lived in a lot of places and worked in a number of capacities. None, she said, compare to being the sixth grade counselor at Haughton Middle School.

“It’s not work when you love it and I love it here!” Addison exclaimed.

Always armed with a kind word and smile, Addison arrived on the scene at Bossier Schools three years ago and at Haughton Middle in 2017. It could not have been a better fit. What she found was an extended family.

“To be a part of a family is great when you’re so far away from your own,” Addison explained.

Her colleagues are quick to sing her praises and more than a dozen of them nominated her for Bossier Schools’ Gold Star award, a surprise that left Addison stunned during an impromptu presentation during sixth grade lunch shift.

“She is a bright shining example of how a caring adult can change the lives of the children she influences,” wrote Jessica Daigle.

Carly Moore shared how Addison hit the ground running from day one, making sure every student’s needs were met, whether lending a listening ear or offering words of encouragement.

“A few of Nichole’s random acts of kindness can be seen through a 6 a.m. text, asking what your favorite SONIC drink is,” Moore added. “The heartfelt notes you may receive in your box, and the 343 Post-It notes addressed to every student by name left on each teacher’s classroom door the week of LEAP testing. In my five years of teaching, I have only met a handful of people that can make me smile as much as Mrs. Addison does.”

Others spoke of the fresh ideas Addison has brought to HMS and how she has boosted morale, calling her “the heartbeat of the sixth grade wing.”

“She encourages our teachers to work together by doing things like a scavenger hunt,” Megan Picou said. “We were all given a list of tasks to complete with our kids. Things like ‘take your kids outside’ or ‘dress like what you’re talking about in class.’ Not only did this have us working together, but the kids got involved, too!”

“Doing a good job is simply doing my job,” Addison said, who was deeply humbled by the words of affirmation and Gold Star award. “To know that I have positively impacted people to the point they speak out about it -- that is true discipleship.”

“She’s kind of a big deal!” HMS Principal Richard Warren joked, his admiration for Addison evident. She quipped, “We exchange movie quotes a lot.”

After a long line of students came by to hug or congratulate Addison, she confessed “This is my first time working with middle schoolers and I swore I would never do it.” Soon afterward, the school counselor quickly changed her tune.

“I think they’re at a developmental stage where they’re figuring out who they are and it’s an honor to be a part of it. They still have kid in them, but they are also starting to spread their wings and bloom. They truly appreciate you at this age, because they’re starting to grasp true appreciation and it’s genuine.”

Addison also counts working with her colleagues an honor.

“Bossier Parish Schools provide an atmosphere like nothing I have ever seen. The support and love are genuine amongst its employees. I am a better person because of the people I work with.” She went on to say, “At a time where people are quick to speak negatively, this was a staunch reminder about my purpose. As long as people leave me better than when we met, my job is done.”

Do not mistake her statement as if she is leaving, though. Addison and her family have finally found a place they can put down roots permanently.

“We love Louisiana so much we’ve decided to retire here. We have bought a house. I am here!”


*Editor’s note: Bossier Schools extends its gratitude to Bossier Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Gold Star employee award program since its inception seven years ago. Thousands of nominations have been received and dozens of exemplary employees recognized as a result of BFCU’s commitment to elevating Bossier Parish educators and support personnel.

Posted 5/3/19

Sharon Rushing is holding a giant cookie cakeEver heard the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” Well, that goes for the entire student body and faculty at Elm Grove Middle School.

Sharon Rushing is known for making the best popcorn you will ever eat, runs the best concession stand around and rolls the Treat Trolley through the halls at EGMS; yet those are only a few of the reasons why the Eagles adore custodian ‘Ms. Sharon.’

It is the genuine love she shows each of them that makes this 17-year Bossier Schools employee stand out.

“When it’s a stressful week, I’ll go pop popcorn for the administrators and put a little bag on their desks,” Rushing revealed. She keeps the caffeine coming, too.

“I make sweet tea -- and unsweet -- everyday for the teachers and coffee. I gotta keep them happy. Whatever they need, whenever. If they need me on a Saturday, I’m here,” Rushing added.

Ms. Sharon has a soft spot in her students’ hearts as well -- so much so, more than a dozen of them nominated her for Bossier Schools’ Gold Star employee award, because she goes above and beyond for them. Gathered at an assembly, they went wild when Rushing walked in and was surprised with the award.

“Ms. Sharon is always on her ‘A’ game,” wrote Zara Khan. “She always takes care of everyone in whatever they need. She comes in our classroom and always has a smile on her face. She deserves a Gold Star because she works very hard. She runs the best snack stand. She always says ‘hello’ to us and makes us feel great.”

Andreas Abner said, “She does lots of good stuff for the school’s concession (stand) and lets students help her out and she cooks for the basketball and football games chicken strips and (they) turn out very good and everybody loves it. Everybody loves and appreciates Ms. Sharon around and helping.”

Hearing what students wrote about her made Rushing chuckle, adding “They call it Ms.  Sharon’s chicken shack,” referencing her concession stand.

Rushing loves Elm Grove Middle as much as those under its roof love her. She is “on her fourth principal” and started when the school was where Elm Grove Elementary currently is now, working alongside her mom, Ms. Sadie. Then, when the middle school moved to where it is now, Rushing went with her beloved Eagles.   

“It’s fabulous,” Rushing said as she smiled. “This is the school I went to. I tell all the kids ‘I went to Elm Grove and y’all have the best teachers here.”

She certainly has their gratitude, too. For those with younger children attending Sun City Elementary next door, Rushing is like their mother hen. Because they arrive at Elm Grove with their moms much earlier than their school starts, Rushing walks them next door and has snacks ready for them each afternoon upon their return. Come Easter, Ms. Sharon makes each of them a basket and buys a toy for them at Christmas.

No doubt, she spoils everyone around her. Rushing smiled as she recalled the day the teachers and administration turned it around on her.

“They sent me to Disney four years ago for my birthday, she said. “I had never been on a plane. It was my first time to leave this area. Ashley Johnston planned everything out. She told me ‘Don’t worry about nothing!’ They even made me shirts. It was my first time (at Disney.). When I met Mickey, I started crying. I had so much fun.”

About that time, one of the administrator’s little girls peeked in and asked “Ms. Sharon, can I have some cookie cake?”

“Yeah baby, you can have some cookie cake,” Rushing answered. “That’s my baby. They love me.”

 

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Bossier Federal Credit Union for sponsoring the Gold Star Award, which is now in its seventh year. This highly coveted award goes to nine Bossier Parish employees each year as acknowledgement of the difference they make among students, colleagues and at their work sites. Bossier Schools also extends its thanks to the Bossier Press Tribune for publishing the Gold Star articles and highlighting what makes Bossier Schools stand apart -- the employees, who all play an important role in student learning.

Posted 4/28/19

 

Photo of the Parkway JROTC Color GuardIn honor of our military connected children, Elm Grove Middle School played host to Bossier Schools’ annual Purple Up Day to recognize the sacrifices they make — because they serve, too.

Parkway High School’s drumline got the ceremony started with a bang, playing an entertaining set that demonstrated sheer precision.

Members of the EGMS Junior Student to Student (JS2S) initiative led the program and explained the history of Month of the Military Child. In 1986, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as Month of the Military Child, its purpose being to recognize military children for the sacrifices they make.

Parkway student Lauren Klofach was the keynote speaker, revealing her experiences as a military child who has moved multiple times and attended several schools.

Barksdale Air Force Base 2d Bomb Wing Commander Col. Michael Miller was also on hand to offer words of praise and encouragement to all of the EGMS Eagles as did Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey.

It was a great morning of celebration, recognizing those military connected children that serve alongside their parents. We appreciate them and are blessed to have them as part of the Bossier Schools family.

Posted 4/24/19

Ribbon cutting in front of Airline s Freedom ShrineWhen students at Airline High and Haughton Middle pass by the recently installed Freedom Shrines at their school, they will be reminded that Americans’ freedoms are a gift that should be highly valued and preserved.

The Spirit of Bossier National Exchange Club recently donated a collection of photographic reproductions of original documents from American history to the two schools, which includes the Bill of Rights, Mayflower Compact and Declaration of Independence.

Airline Principal Jason Rowland and Haughton Middle Principal Richard Warren were also presented plaques in appreciation of their patriotism and dedication to educate young people about our forefathers’ courage and sacrifices.  

Adding a special touch to Airline’s Freedom Shrine was artwork portraying the U.S. flag, painted by art students. As Rowland noted, stars representing all 50 states were included in the artwork and each document touched the flag.

"Documents on this wall have stood the test of time," Rowland said.

Members of The National Exchange Club have dedicated almost 11-thousand Freedom Shrines in schools, military installations and government buildings since the program’s inception in 1949.

Geoff Shetler, President of the Spirit of Bossier National Exchange Club, said club members hope that dedicating this Freedom Shrine will remind all citizens of the courage, dedication and sacrifice of their forefathers. The club also hopes its efforts will help young people better understand how important it is to ensure America’s freedom is preserved.

Airline SGA President Jackson Lewis best summarized the meaning of the Freedom Shrine dedicated at his school, stressing its importance "in how we remember why we are in this country and able to do what we do."

Posted 4/17/19

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 Noel SpringNoel Spring is one fantastic arts educator and is in the spotlight this month.

The Rusheon Middle School teacher is being recognized as the April 2019 Arts Educator of the Month by Core Arts Consulting. Click here to read more.  

Spring integrates math, science and English Language Arts into her lessons and really engaged students in an “emotions in abstract” assignment recently that enabled them to express themselves through art while working through some tough issues.

Outside of the art classroom, Spring supports students through mentoring with the PBIS Tier II Climb Program at Rusheon and she provides extracurricular support to the Ram Pride Spirit Team.

We are proud to have Spring as part of our Bossier Schools family and celebrate the difference she is making in Rusheon students’ lives. She is most deserving of the spotlight!

Posted 4/3/19