Melissa Stanga & Charlotte Landry's Letter to the Editor on the Education Session
We are part of the Leadership Tangipahoa 2015-2016 class. This month we focused on Education in Tangipahoa Parish and toured the Tangipahoa Parish School Board office, Hammond Westside Montessori School, Hammond High Magnet School, Northshore Technical Community College and Southeastern Louisiana University. I would like to thank everyone who took the time out of their day to better educate us on what their institutes have to offer. While we had a very "educational" day, we would like to share with your readers the incredible educational services offered in our Parish.
We began our day at the Tangipahoa Parish School Board office in Amite. Chief Academic Officer Theresa Hamilton gave us a tour of their office and each department. While overseeing 33 schools with a current enrollment of 19,921 students, the office seems to run efficiently with minimal employees in each department. Brett Duncan, the Board President spoke about his role on the Board. The Board meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month where they discuss budgets, policies and vision. Tangipahoa Parish has some great programs to offer within our schools, from Montessori to Magnet, and Jump Start programs to name a few. Students can pick a niche to help jumpstart their future.
Our next stop was Hammond Westside Montessori School where we were greeted by two outstanding 6th grade Ambassadors, Noah Hamilton and George Griffin. These students are amongst 7 others that were nominated by the teachers and interviewed for the position. Also there to greet us, was the Principal, Cathy Leblanc, and some of her faculty. The Music teacher, Mr. Nick Varnado, and some of his students greeted us in the gym where they sang a few songs. They were amazing! We toured the school and were able to visit several different classes. Some of the classes were made up of three different age groups, ranging from 1st to 3rd grade. These students keep the same teacher for three years. Class activities are hands-on. The materials are elegantly prepared, and are made for exploration and discovery. There are very few tables and chairs, and the students use mats for learning. Federal grants have helped the school furnish each classroom with the Montessori tools needed; each classroom can cost $20,000 - $30,000. The mission statement of Hammond Westside Montessori School "is to develop a unified and diverse learning community. We will strive to create a family environment in our school as we produce students who make healthy choices in a complicated world." The faculty and teachers have done an amazing job implementing this program in our parish and we recommend all parents in our area check them out when looking for the perfect school for your children.
Next, we were lucky enough to have lunch prepared by Hammond High Magnet School's ProStart students. ProStart is a two year restaurant management and culinary arts program for high school juniors and seniors. Not only did they provide us with some amazing food, they also waited on us as if we were in a restaurant. Angie Drago, the ProStart Instructor, filled us in on the program. ProStart is an industry-based, comprehensive curriculum written by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. The program includes cost control, marketing, sustainability, food safety, culinary arts, and much more. The Hammond High ProStart students recently won the state competition. The team consisted of four students who prepared a 3 course meal in an hour. The students also won "judges pick" for best dessert, received 2nd place in the management competition, and 1st place in critical thinking for their restaurant concept. Congratulations to the award-winning ProStart students!
Culinary isn't the only thing Hammond High Magnet School has to offer. We were given a tour by Rebecca Chapotel of the Robotics room. We were able to see the Robot created by the students that they were bringing to competition the following day. Next, Rebecca showed us the fully-equipped Sports Medicine and Emergency Medical Responders classroom. Hammond High has a wide variety of educational programs which prepare students when choosing their future career paths.
Our next stop was Northshore Technical Community College. The Administrator for NTCC is Bridgette LaBorde. NTCC currently has locations in Hammond, Greensburg and Bogalusa along with a location on Coop Dr in Covington. They have a satellite site in Slidell with plans to develop one in Lacombe also. NTCC provides services to 3700 college students with 500-700 students attending classes on the Hammond Campus along. After Mrs. LaBorde spoke with us, we were able to tour some of the classes that are offered on the Hammond Campus. AC and Refrigeration, Automotive Technology, Building Technology Specialist, Business Office Technology, General Office Concentration, Medical Office Concentration, Care and Development of Young Children, Electrician, Medical Assistant, Machine Tool Technology, Info Communication Technology, Pharmacy Technician, Practical Nursing and Welding are the degree programs that are offered on the Hammond Campus.
Our last stop of the day was Southeastern Louisiana University. We met with Dr. John Crain, University President. He gave us current information on the University including the number of students they have, projects, and buildings that are currently in the works. SLU offers a total of 209 majors, minors and concentrations to more than 15,600 students. They are the state's third largest public university. SLU sits on 365 acres with 149 buildings. Dr. Crain also spoke with us concerning the possible cuts to Higher Education and the effect it will have on the University and the cost of tuition.
We would like to thank our Employers Jani-King and Hampton Inn for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of Leadership Tangipahoa. Every month we get to learn more about all the great things our Parish has to offer and connect with Leaders in our community.
Jani-King Gulf Coast
Jani-King Gulf Coast