Teachers and Principals of the Year Reception

Livingston Parish Public Schools Middle School Principal of the Year Carolyn Vosburg of North Corbin Junior High, right, hugs Erin Jeansonne, who introduced her during a reception to honor the teachers and principals of the year at Revival Temple Church on Tuesday.

Morgan Prewitt | The News

WALKER -- For most teachers and principals, their lives revolve around their students.

But for one night, they were the centers of attention.

A crowd of nearly 300 people packed the house at Revival Temple Church in Walker to honor the 2019 Livingston Parish Public Schools Teachers and Principals of the Year.

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching and another on the horizon, people of all ages came together for more than two hours to celebrate the merits of nearly 50 LPPS educators, both from the classroom and the principal’s office.

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LPSB teachers and principals of the Year Reception teacher group

From left, Live Oak High’s Jessica Bonura, Live Oak Middle’s Kimberly LeJeune and Live Oak Elementary’s Dané Long were all recognized as 2019 Livingston Parish Public Schools Teachers of the Year during a ceremony at Revival Temple Church in Walker on Tuesday, May 15.

Forty-five teachers were recognized for being their schools’ teachers of the year, including Live Oak Elementary’s Dané Long, Live Oak Middle’s Kimberly LeJeune and Live Oak High’s Jessica Bonura, who were all named parish teachers of the year in their respective grade levels.

Melissa Dougherty of Gray’s Creek Elementary, Carolyn Vosburg of North Corbin Junior High and Jason St. Pierre of Walker High were also honored as parish principals of the year.

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LPSB teachers and principals of the Year Reception

From left, Carolyn Vosburg of North Corbin Junior High, Jason St. Pierre of Walker High and Melissa Dougherty of Gray’s Creek Elementary were all recognized as 2019 Livingston Parish Public Schools Principals of the Year during a ceremony at Revival Temple Church in Walker on Tuesday, May 15.

“I just want to tell every [teacher and principal] out here how much we truly appreciate your efforts every day,” said LPPS Superintendent Rick Wentzel.

This year’s honored teachers and principals were given star treatment, to the great joy of Wentzel and the rest of the school board.

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Teachers and Principals of the Year Reception

Timothy Johnson, a student from Albany High, plays a keyboard and sings during a reception to honor the parish teachers and principals of the year at Revival Temple Church on Tuesday.

Normally held in the crammed school board office in Livingston, this year’s ceremony took place inside the Family Life Center at Revival Temple Church, a big enough venue to hold 40 tables and nearly 300 seats. Each table was adorned with a white cloth, folded napkins and silverware, and a bow-tied collection of blue, white and silver balloons that honorees took home.

For entertainment, attendees enjoyed music from a host of Tim Richardson’s talented music students, including former American Idol contestant Laine Hardy. While students sang, people enjoyed a dinner featuring chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and bread.

Wentzel said a such a grand ceremony wasn’t possible in years past, and he thanked all 23 sponsors for helping make the evening “a success.”

The superintendent also had everyone in the room give Programs Coordinator Debbie Kropog and her team of volunteers — many LPPS students and employees — a round of applause for doing their part to “frill up” the ceremony.

“You guys really have outdone yourselves,” he said.

But after that, the applause was reserved for teachers and principals, who were the real stars on this night.

During the ceremony, students and colleagues flooded the parish teachers/principals of the year with praise, each presenting stories — and in one case a Dr. Seuss-like poem — from their experiences with the honorees.

One parent, U V Li of Walker, also delivered a heartfelt “thank you” to all the LPPS teachers in the room, especially those who helped his 6-year-old son overcome a trying language barrier.

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Teachers and Principals of the Year Reception U V Li

U V Li, a parent of three sons in the Livingston Parish School System, thanks the teachers who helped his oldest son adjust to moving back to the United States from China during a reception to honor the teachers and principals of the year at Revival Temple Church on Tuesday.

After sending his oldest of three to learn Mandarin Chinese with his grandparents in China, Li said he could sense his son’s unhappiness when he returned home a little more than a year ago.

That unhappiness only grew as Li’s son, who struggles with English, ran into constant communication problems at school, making him feel like an outsider among his peers. Things became so difficult that Li’s son begged him for permission to return to China.

A year has gone by since then, and Li said he has noticed another change in his son.

Though English is still his biggest challenge, Li said his son is steadily improving, and he’ll sometimes show off his new vocabulary to his grandparents. His improved English has also helped make friends at school, and Li said his son seems to be a “totally different person… and a lot happier.”

To Li, those responsible for his son’s sudden change are those he’s around on a daily basis — Livingston Parish Public Schools educators.

To show his appreciation, the owner of Foo Chow Restaurant in Walker bought roses for not only his son's teachers, but all LPPS teachers — more than 2,000 mutli-colored roses for Teacher Appreciation Week.

On Tuesday, Li thanked them again.

“I can’t thank you guys enough, because I feel like without you, none of this [with my son] would’ve happened,” he said. “Your hard work didn’t go by unnoticed.”

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Teachers and Principals of the Year Reception Dane’ Long Kenya Wells

Livingston Parish Public Schools Elementary Teacher of the Year Dane’ Long, right, hugs Kenya Wells, Live Oak Elementary assistant principal, during a reception to honor the teachers and principals of the year at Revival Temple Church on Tuesday.

Several past and present LPPS teachers and officials also spoke, including Assistant Superintendents Steve Parrill and Joe Murphy, who both presided over the presentation portion of the evening. Each thanked the teachers and principals for the services they provide to their students and for always finding those “teachable moments.”

“Each one of you in here makes a difference every day with the students you come in contact with,” Parrill said. “You are there where the rubber hits the road. You are where differences are made with our students everyday.

“You have every parent’s most precious possession that they’re entrusting to us to care for, and you knock it out of the park everyday.”

After the parish teachers/principals of the year were singled out, teachers of the year from all LPPS schools were recognized, each receiving a framed certificate and a rose adorned with a purple bow.

Teacher of the Year winners include:

Elementary

Gabby Mire, Albany Lower Elementary

Karen Faust, Albany Upper Elementary

Kris Kleinpeter, Denham Springs Elementary

Taffy Sexton, Doyle Elementary

Judy Carr, Eastside Elementary

Jessica Boudreaux, French Settlement Elementary

Jeanette Milne, Freshwater Elementary

Amanda Naquin, Frost

Dana Fontenot, Gray’s Creek Elementary

Haley Mercante, Holden

Kelli Lowery, Juban Parc Elementary

Shay McDaniel, Levi Milton Elementary

Tara Schwartz, Lewis Vincent Elementary

Dane’ Long, Live Oak Elementary

Kristi Lemoine, North Corbin Elementary

Allison Richardson, North Live Oak Elementary

Kelly Chevalier, Northside Elementary

Kayla Wales, Seventh Ward Elementary

Laurie Petty, South Fork Elementary

Meghan Flores, South Live Oak Elementary

Leah Richard, South Walker Elementary

Donna DePaula, Springfield Elementary

Tamie McCaffery, Southside Elementary

Carissa Peters, Walker Elementary

Middle School

Irene Farace, Albany Middle

Amanda Brian, Denham Springs Junior

Natasha McMorris, French Settlement High

Krystal Hughes, Holden High

Mary Loofbourrow, Juban Parc Junior

Pamela Myers, Live Oak Junior

Kimberly LeJeune, Live Oak Middle

Barbara McCaskill, North Corbin Junior

Lisa Deer, Southside Junior

Kim Kinchen, Springfield Middle

Lauri Rentz, Westside Junior High

High School

Shellie Woodward, Albany High

Sarah Halphen, Denham Springs High

Jill Johnson, Denham Springs Freshman

Casey Moskau, Doyle High

Mindy Bailey, Holden High

Jessica Bonura, Live Oak High*

Ann Mullis, Maurepas High

Aimee Freeman, Springfield High

Karen Davenport, Walker Freshman

Brooke Rhymes, Walker High

* During the ceremony, Dream Teachers Vice-Chair Amie Barton announced that Bonura, a significant disabilities/autism (SDA) teacher, was named a state semifinalist. Bonura and the other semifinalists, finalists and overall winners will be recognized at the 2018 Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala on July 27.

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