FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 29, 2022

Contact: Brigitte Nieland

Phone: 225-603-5668

Email: [email protected]

STAND FOR CHILDREN LOUISIANA ANNOUNCES 2022-23 LEAD FELLOWS

Educators from across the state selected to hone their skills as advocates for students and teachers.

(BATON ROUGE) – Stand for Children Louisiana announced today the selection of its 2022-2023 Foundational and Advanced LEAD Fellows. The LEAD Fellowship is a six-month experience that allows education professionals to work together to hone their craft, study education policy, find and elevate their voice, engage with local and state policy makers, and advocate on behalf of all students. In its eight years of operation, more than 130 educators from across the state have completed the program, many returning for multiple years. This year’s application and selection process was the most competitive to date.

“The LEAD Fellowship has equipped well over 100 of our state’s most effective educators with the information, tools, and connections they needed to take their work beyond the classroom and positively impact the processes and policies of our state’s education systems. The LEAD Fellowship allows Fellows to identify issues they want to influence, then empowers them to study the issue and address it as they see fit,” said Stand for Children Louisiana Executive Director Carrie Griffin Monica.

“If one cares about the educational success of students in our state, joining the LEAD Fellowship is a must,” said 2021-22 Foundational Fellow and 2022-23 Advanced Fellow Yulinda Marshall.

For the second year, the LEAD Fellowship will be facilitated by Kimberly Eckert. Eckert was the 2018 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year and currently serves as Dean of Undergraduate Studies for Oxford Teachers College at Reach University and is an employee of West Baton Rouge Schools where she serves as the Educators Rising Instructor & Innovative Programs and Instructional Coordinator. Eckert is deeply committed to building educator networks across the state, elevating educators’ voices, and ensuring educators are involved in every education-related decision being made in our state.

“I am continually impressed with the dedication, passion, tenacity, energy, and strength shown by the LEAD Fellows. I am a firm believer that teachers and students can do anything they put their minds to, and I truly believe this year’s Fellows are capable of making truly impactful student-centered improvements to our state’s education system,” said Eckert.

This year’s LEAD Fellows are:

  • Ssb Becnel, 2nd Grade Teacher, Orleans Parish
  • Shalonda Berry, PreK-6th Grade Principal, Avoyelles Parish
  • Justin Broussard, 6th-8th Grade Teacher, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Anna Cain, Secondary Science Teacher and Department Head, Morehouse Parish
  • Tammy Chaffin, Librarian/Technology Coordinator, Livingston Parish
  • Tyler Colson, 6th Grade Educator, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Dannon Dauzat, K-6th Grade Instructional Coach, Avoyelles Parish
  • Timberly Deville, LANG Education Programs, Rapides Parish serving Louisiana
  • Nagham Elbizri, 6th-8th Grade French and Math Teacher, Jefferson Parish
  • Ashley Everett, Educator & Senior Program Manager of Adolescent Health, Orleans Parish
  • Breanna Guidry, 9th Grade Teacher, West Baton Rouge Parish
  • Lyn Hakeem, School Board Chair, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Tara Henderson, Assistant Principal, Tangipahoa Parish Schools
  • Teran James, 6th Grade Teacher, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Paula Johnson, 8th Grade Teacher, St. John the Baptist Parish
  • Brandi Lee, 3rd Grade Teacher, Avoyelles Parish
  • Daven Lewis, 8th Grade Teacher, Jefferson Parish
  • Rachel Little, 9th-12 Grade Teacher, Orleans Parish
  • Alayna Maberry, 3rd-4th Grade Interventionist & MTSS Coordinator, Orleans Parish
  • Vasy McCoy, PreK-8th Grade School Director, Orleans Parish
  • Jessica Netterville, 9th-12th Grade Librarian, St. Tammany Parish
  • Carla Powell, 9th-12th Grade Teacher, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Lisa Staples, Former Pre-K and K Educator and Current Mental Health Program Administrator, Orleans Parish
  • Anthony Turner, 10th-12th Grade Teacher, Pointe Coupee Parish
  • Dr. Turner Keller, K-12th Grade Teacher, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Raven Veal, English I Virtual Educator at University View Academy, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Sabrina Washington, 9th-12th Grade Teacher, Avoyelles Parish
  • Gretchen Wiltz, 1st-4th Grade Teacher, Zachary Community School District
  • Erikka Wishom, Head Start-2nd Grade Principal, East Baton Rouge Parish

For the second year, we are proud to also share the 2022-23 class of Advanced LEADers who are returning to the Fellowship to continue their advocacy journey and further elevate their collective voice to improve education throughout our state. Advanced LEADers will leverage what was learned during foundational years of the LEAD Fellowship to gain more in-depth understanding of the Fellowship’s three areas of study: Literacy, Quality Schools for All, and Juvenile/Criminal Justice.

“This is one of the most educationally invigorating programs I have ever been involved with,” said 2021-22 Advanced Fellow Lovie Howell.

The 2022-23 Advanced LEAD Fellowship will be facilitated by a team of education advocates, from left to right: Khalil Roy, Educator, Avoyelles Parish; Faten Ahmad, Educator & Adjunct Professor, Jefferson Parish; Hollis Wilson-Davis, M.Ed.-Asst. Principal, St. Mary Parish; and Keonte Wells, Educator, Avoyelles Parish.

“Some of our Advanced Fellows have been with us since 2016, challenging us to grow and adapt our programming to serve them and their experience,” said Executive Director Carrie Griffin Monica, “and we have seen some truly incredible projects and results from these exceptional educator advocates.”

This year’s Advanced LEADers are:

  • Kelsye Baudoin, K-5th School Librarian, Lafayette Parish
  • Melissa Bordelon, 1st Grade Educator and K-2nd Literacy Content Leader, Avoyelles Parish
  • Wiley Brazier V, Professor & Consultant, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Kristen Bruce, 7th-12th Grade Teacher, Vernon Parish
  • Robyn Butler, English 1 Teacher and ACT Prep, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Dr. Suresh Chiruguru, 9th-12th Grade Teacher, Peer-Coach, Mentor, & Teacher Leader, Calcasieu Parish
  • Keisha Fleming, 4th-5th Grade Teacher, Iberville Parish
  • Marian Jackson-Scott, Former Teacher, St. Landry Parish
  • Jennifer Kelly, The Center for Literacy and Learning, Ouachita Parish supporting Northeast Louisiana
  • Yulinda Marshall, 6th-12th Magnet Site Coordinator and 9th Grade Dual Enrollment Facilitator, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Dr. Tiffanye McCoy-Thomas, PhD – Curriculum Content Supervisor, East Baton Rouge Parish
  • Nicole Nelson, Consultant and Instructional Coach, Caddo Parish supporting Louisiana
  • Karen Parrino, K Teacher and Coach to K-3rd Educators, Livingston Parish
  • Dr. Tonya J. Rose, Dean College of Education and Human Development at Southern University at New Orleans, Orleans Parish
  • Victoria Rosser, Educator and Educator Consultant, Orleans Parish
  • Mary Elizabeth Thibeaux-Clay, 9th-12th Career and Technical Education Administrator, St. Martin Parish
  • Lauren Trahan, 10th Grade Teacher and Administrator, Vermilion Parish
  • Jennifer Underwood, Assistant Principal, Calcasieu Parish

The LEAD Fellowship kicks off in November and will conclude in April for both Foundational and Advanced LEADers. To learn more about Stand’s LEAD Fellowships, please visit http://stand.org/louisiana/lead-fellowship. To be notified of future application deadlines, please complete this short interest form.

About Stand for Children Louisiana
Stand for Children Louisiana is a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice, to create a brighter future for us all. For more information, please visit
www.stand.org/louisiana.

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The current discussion in Baton Rouge is largely centered on the budget for the 2022 – 2023 school year, which will be adopted in the next few weeks. To get a better feeling for community desires for our education system, Stand conducted a poll of 1,823 likely general election voters in EBR. The poll was conducted in May of 2022 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.68%.

Respondents were asked about five specific priority areas from the district’s strategic plan and whether a candidate’s support of that priority area would make them more or less likely to vote for that candidate. While all five priorities had over 80% of people saying a candidate’s support would make them more likely to vote for that candidate, the single highest scoring priority was investing in effective teacher training and coaching on early literacy to help children read by third grade (89%).

The second most important priority was expanding access to quality preschool so more students start kindergarten ready to learn (82%). Less than half of EBR’s kindergarteners start school ready to learn, so Stand agrees that expanding access to quality early education programs is of the utmost importance.

Providing more career and technical education courses and ensuring mental health supports/counseling resources both came in at 81% support while expanding opportunities for high school students to take advantage of courses that enable them to earn college credit received 80% support.

The data above is district-wide and there were no significant differences in support between district, party, race, or gender.

This overview of community and likely voter perspectives provides a crystal-clear picture of the community’s priorities. When considering the budget and direction of our district, Stand calls on board members to both follow the evidence of effectiveness and overwhelming level of community support for these priorities and vote in favor of the student-centered initiatives listed above.

If you would like to email your school board member and ask them to support the proposed budget, which priorities these five priorities and more, please click here.

Stand for Children Louisiana’s Statement in Response to East Baton Rouge Parish June School Board Meeting

For more than a decade, Stand Louisiana has advocated for improving our state’s literacy rates because we know kids who are reading on grade level by third grade are more likely to graduate high school on time and succeed in the college or the career of their choice. We are made up of more than 300 parent, teacher, and student members in EBR and more than 200 local business and faith leaders representing more than 90,000 constituents as part of our United Faith Leaders.

From installing “Little Free Libraries” across EBR and the state to increase community access to books, supporting successful legislation that expands the number of literacy coaches in our schools, successfully advocating for funding to expand local quality early education seats, supporting the expansion of the Science of Reading professional development for teachers and support staff, and successfully lobbying for more state and local funding for quality early education and reading interventions – our commitment to improving literacy rates to improve lives and pathways to prosperity for families couldn’t be more clear.

Stand Louisiana has been pleased to see EBR Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse’s deep commitment to improving third grade literacy rates for students across the district by expanding access to quality early education programs and making historic, evidence-based investments in literacy education. In his first year in EBR, Dr. Narcisse – with support from most board members and as outlined by the board-approved Strategic Plan – ensured that literacy coaches were placed in schools to support students and teachers, provided training and ongoing support to educators and support staff in the Science of Reading, created more than 1,000 new early education seats for families, and made critical investments to drastically expand summer programming to address learning loss due to Covid. On June 21, the district released its Literacy Blueprint for EBR that was developed by the Mayor’s Joint Task Force on Literacy – on which we are proud to serve – doubling-down on literacy as a priority not only for the district but for our city as a whole.

But – as is all too often the case in EBR – election year political posturing by some members of the board threatens to derail more than a year’s worth of progress and halt kindergarten readiness and rising literacy rates for years to come. While the tone of board meetings has been slowly devolving, June’s meeting hit an all-time low. With a few absent board members, one politician took full advantage and, in some cases, was joined by others to ultimately kill over $12 million in funding for early care and education seats and literacy supports for students and teachers.

Board Member Collins’ election year politics could stop 1,200 families from having access to quality early care seats for their three- and four-year olds. Not only will these young learners be kept from early education seats that will help them start school ready to learn, but their parents will be denied opportunities to advance their education and careers due to lack of safe, affordable childcare for their children. 

In a May 2022 poll of 1,823 likely general election registered voters in EBR, 82% reported they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who prioritizes expanding access to quality preschool so more students start kindergarten ready to learn.

There is no excuse for this blatant action by Ms. Collins that will hurt the families who elected her to do right by our kids.

Stand Louisiana calls on the board to bring back the items voted down at the June board meeting and vote in favor of expanding Pre-K education, continuing critical investments in literacy and mental health supports for students, and investing in teacher professional development. We urge the board to pass these items unanimously to demonstrate board unity for students and progress. The community is watching and it is time to put students first.

Click here to sign this petition asking the EBR school board to bring early education, literacy funding, and other student & teacher supports back for another vote.

Less than a year ago, the EBR School Board developed and approved a robust student-centered strategic plan that includes key performance indicators in priority areas to maintain a high level of transparency and accountability for making progress.

Since then, fulfilling his charge to implement that plan and bring about the progress expected by the board, Dr. Narcisse proposed – and the board has approved – strategic investments that expand quality early care and education seats, literacy and math coaches in schools, mental health supports for students, stipends for teachers and support staff, and professional development supports to help educators and school leaders improve their practice.

East Baton Rouge – for the first time we can remember – is being touted at the state and national levels for its work to improve outcomes for all kids and for being the only district in the state that has created robust online dashboards so parents, the community, and taxpayers can see how the district is moving toward the key performance indicators and investing federal dollars to achieve success for students. The board and superintendent should be applauded for these efforts.

As is expected of any agency when implementing a new strategic plan, budgeting and staffing must be aligned. And, in a system that has for far too long misaligned staffing with student need, proper alignment was never going to be an easy task. For years, our parent and student members have shared stories about long term substitutes and paraprofessionals staffing core subjects, classes in core subjects that have gone without a teacher for over six months, and schools with no athletics or coaches while other schools have more teachers and coaches than student enrollment or interest demands. This staffing plan seeks to right-size staffing so that all East Baton Rouge students can succeed and make our community stronger.

Let’s face it – reallocations and reassignments are never easy, no matter how strategic. Staffing changes are particularly challenging right now given unprecedented teacher shortages across our district, state, and country. Compounding the challenge and despite Dr. Narcisse’s best efforts, there were unfortunate gaps in communication at a few schools.

While the communication at those few schools should have been better, the bigger picture is that the administration is to be commended for its commitment to students and courage to make tough decisions and reassignments necessary to realize the school board’s bold, student-centered vision.

Unfortunately, a few community leaders with narrow political agendas are trying to capitalize on understandable fears, confusion, and frustration of certain teachers and parents concerned with the staffing changes. These opportunists allege a lack of community engagement by the district that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth is that, after many years of instability during which inequities widened and overall performance stagnated, our district is on the rise. Dr. Narcisse, his team, and his supporters on the school board deserve tremendous credit and our support.

Stand for Children Louisiana is an organization that has worked with parents, the community, faith leaders, educators, and elected officials for more than 10 years. What we strive for is education equity and racial justice, and we are fierce advocates for transparency and community engagement.

We believe passionately that the board, superintendent, and the administration deserve credit for their bold, courageous leadership for students and for moving with a sense of urgency many of us never believed could be possible for the students and families in East Baton Rouge.

We urge the community and board to support the actions initiated to meet the goals outlined in the student-centered strategic plan, work with Dr. Narcisse and his team to make improvements where necessary, and join in the effort to make all East Baton Rouge schools high quality and a place where every parent wants to send their child.

If you agree and would like to email the EBR Board, you may use the following list of emails: [email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected].