Rachael Domiano Beard's Letter to the Editor on the Education Session
During this month's Leadership Tangipahoa class, we visited several Tangipahoa Parish schools, the TPSS Board Office, and Southeastern Louisiana University.
We began our day at the new O.W. Dillon Elementary School in Kentwood. During the tour given by principal Lance Harrell and architect Michael Holly, we learned that research in education led to the design of the school with the goal of enhancing the students' learning environment. Apart from multiple classrooms, the school's layout included a parent resource center, activity areas, a fitness center for teachers and adaptive P.E., and teacher collaboration rooms. As we walked through the halls, we saw quotes selected by the community posted throughout the school. Each quote goes along with a specific theme for each part of the building. These themes were "civic," "culture," and "innovation." I believe the students of O.W. Dillon are very fortunate to have a building created with such thought and care.
Our next stop was the Tangipahoa Parish School Board Office. As we toured the building, Chief Academic Officer Theresa Hamilton explained that the office layout is aimed at encouraging effective collaboration. We were then taken to the conference room where she spoke with us about parish schools, district organization, performance, and related topics. Chief Finance Officer Bret Schnadelbach then discussed the financial aspects and challenges the school board faces. Supervisor of Magnet Programs, Alison Andrews, finished by explaining the magnet programs, certified Montessori teachers, and International Baccalaureate schools. It was a very informative trip and helped us to better understand the way the school board operates.
We were then provided a wonderful lunch by Hammond High Magnet School's award winning Pro-Start class. In addition to developing culinary skills, these students learn about restaurant management and study cost control, marketing, and professionalism. Students in the class also work to complete certifications in the culinary field. As a satellite program, students from across the parish can attend, as long as all the necessary criteria are met. This means that a child enrolled at any parish high school could participate in the Hammond High Pro-Start class while completing the rest of his or her classes at the home school. The pro-start class is considered an elective, but as a medical magnet school, Hammond High also offers programs in veterinarian technician, sports medicine and allied health.
At Woodland Park Montessori School, a magnet school focusing on communication, Principal Cheryl Rousseau showed us the school's broadcasting room and gave us a building tour. I was surprised when I walked into one classroom to see such young children typing stories about Easter on their computers. It was so nice to see the children learning important skills while also expressing their creativity. After our tour, we were shown a presentation detailing the school's testing data and goals. Woodland Park's emphasis on social skills and effective communication will certainly benefit these students long after they leave Woodland Park.
Our class ended the day at Southeastern
Louisiana University where we met with
I learned a great deal during our Leadership Tangipahoa education day. Although we may not hear about it often, so much is happening within our parish schools. The changes being made in the way we educate students, in the variety of academic opportunities they receive, and in the students' excitement to take advantage of those opportunities really impressed me.
Without my sponsor, District Attorney Scott M. Perrilloux, I would have never had the chance to enjoy this wonderful Leadership Tangipahoa experience. I am so grateful to him and to all of those organizations who have taken the time to speak with us, take us on tours, and help to remind us how great Tangipahoa Parish really is.
By: Rachael Domiano Beard