Joey Keener's Letter to the Editor on Education Session
During our most recent Leadership Tangipahoa class, my classmates and I had the opportunity to visit The Tangipahoa School Board, Independence Elementary, Hammond High, North Shore Technical College, and Southeastern University. I would like to thank each of these institutions for being such gracious hosts and I would like to send out a special thanks to Patti Johnson and her culinary students at Hammond High for providing lunch to our class.
I was impressed with many of the things that I saw and heard. For instance, while at Independence Elementary, we learned that 95% of the students read at their grade level. Also it was nice to hear that the school teaches Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS). This teaching technique rewards a child for being respectful and reinforces positive behaviors. The school has also implemented a Positive Action Classroom (PAS). This is a classroom set up for kids that would usually be suspended. Instead of having a day home without school, the kids are sent to these classes to learn. A couple of more interesting facts about Independence Elementary is that it has the third lowest suspension rate in the parish while having the third highest poverty.
Our next stop of the day was Hammond High. While at Hammond High, two things stood out to me, their robotics class and their culinary class. The robotics class was made up of a team of students that compete against other states in regionals in New Orleans and later on in an international competition. The students demonstrated how their robots worked. The high school students were impressive with their creations. The most extraordinary fact was that these students had to raise the funds to purchase all of the parts, equipment and entry fees into the robotics competition. They raised $14,000 themselves. We also learned about the college opportunities this class had opened up for them, such as MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and SMU. I walked away from that group of students feeling a little inspired. Our next stop at Hammond High was their Culinary Class. The culinary students transformed their classroom into a dining room. When we walked into the classroom there were tables set up with white table clothes, plates and silverware. Our first course was a house salad with a homemade creamy Italian dressing. Our main course was a potato soup served in a bread bowl and for desert, we were served bread pudding. The students were our waiters and waitresses. The food was excellent. They will also compete in New Orleans for state competition.
Next we headed to the North Shore Technical College. I didnít realize it, but the Tech College has a medical class, welding class, auto repair class, and computer class. It also provides an opportunity to work towards a GED.
After the Tech College, we went to S.L.U. The principal from St. Thomas Aquinas, Jose Becerra, told us a little about his school. The school is 100% sustained through fundraising and tuition. Their mission is to educate the whole child through athletics, education, academics, and spirituality. The most outstanding fact is that 95% of their students go on to college.
I will end with this thought. Education is important for everyone young and old. From what Iíve seen, Tangipahoa offers something for everyone. We have elementary schools, Jr Highs, High Schools, Technical College and a College. It is my hope that every child has the opportunity to take advantage of these institutions.