Jul 27, 2018

Elementary, Middle and High School Educators Honored at 12th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium

BATON ROUGE, La.- The Louisiana Department of Education tonight announced the 2019 Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year at the 12th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Awards Gala. Spencer Kiper, of Elm Grove Middle School in Bossier Parish, was named the 2019 State Teacher of the Year, and Dr. Eric Davis, of Wossman High School in the City of Monroe School District, was named the 2019 State Principal of the Year.

2019 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year

Kiper, a native of northwest Louisiana, serves as a science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) teacher and advocate. Kiper teaches STEM enrichment to more than 100 middle school students and acts as an adjunct professor at Louisiana State University at Shreveport in the fields of Educational Technology and STEM Education. When he is not teaching, Kiper is an active volunteer and mentor in Civil Air Patrol and was awarded the National Aerospace Educator of the Year award in 2016. For four consecutive summers, Kiper has also worked as a professional development specialist for the Space Academy for Educators program at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., where he inspires other educators to engage in high-impact STEM instructional practices. Kiper holds a bachelor's degree in Secondary English and Biology Education from Louisiana State University at Shreveport; a master's degree in Educational Technology from the American College of Education; and a graduate certificate in Cyber and STEM Education from Louisiana Tech University.

2019 Louisiana State Principal of the Year

Davis is an education veteran, with 20 years of experience in teaching and leadership. Before becoming an administrator, Davis taught business education and special education and coached high school football, basketball and baseball. His favorite part of his career is influencing the lives of young people every day and encouraging them to take charge and ultimately fulfill their purpose. Davis earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Miles College in Birmingham, Ala.; a master's degree in Education from the University of Louisiana at Monroe; and a doctorate degree in administration doctorate degree in Administration Leadership for Teacher Learning from Walden University.

"The theme of tonight's event is 'Leaving Legacies,' and we are here to celebrate great teachers and principals who have done just that. They have left a lasting impression on their students, their peers, their communities and their state," said State Superintendent John White. "We applaud their accomplishments and appreciate their passion, dedication and innovation. In these winners, as well as in all of the honorees, we see the best of our profession."

In addition to announcing the overall state winners, the Department named the 2019 State Elementary, Middle and High School Teacher and Principal of the Year winners. The 2019 Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Tasha Jolivette-Jones of Coteau Elementary School in Iberia Parish; the 2019 Middle School Teacher of the Year is Kathryn M. Ferguson of Youree Dr. Middle Advanced Placement Magnet School in Caddo Parish; and the 2019 High School Teacher of the Year is Stephen Goodly of Warren Easton Senior High School in Orleans Parish.

The 2019 Elementary School Principal of the Year is Kim Canezaro of Valverda Elementary School in Pointe Coupee Parish; the 2019 Middle School Principal of the Year is Dr. Holly Castile of Grand Lake School in Cameron Parish; and the 2019 High School Principal of the Year is Victoria McMullen-Dunn of East Feliciana High School in East Feliciana Parish.

All 2019 Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists and semifinalists were also celebrated, along with Louisiana's two Milken Educator Award winners and the Louisiana Association of School Executive's Superintendent of the Year. Theresa Cross, of Alice M. Harte Charter School in New Orleans, and Angela Boxie, of Edgar Martin Middle School in Lafayette, received the Milken awards, and Hollis Milton, Superintendent of West Feliciana Parish Schools, was honored as the State District Superintendent of the Year.

In addition, 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year Kimberly Eckert was awarded the inaugural Louisiana Teacher of the Year Public Interest Fellowship. The fellowship, supported by a $50,000 stipend, will allow one educator, chosen from the previous year's list of Teacher of the Year finalists, to spend the upcoming school year advocating for a specific education initiative.

The annual awards ceremony, held at the Crowne Plaza Executive Center in Baton Rouge, is co-sponsored by Dream Teachers, a non-profit organization founded in 2006 for the purpose of recognizing Louisiana's finest educators and education leaders and to encourage educational excellence. The event, now in its 12th year, drew a crowd of more than 600 guests.

In recent years participation in the program has greatly increased. In 2014, for example, the total number of teacher and principal nominations was 64; this year, that number topped 300. The number of school systems submitting both teacher and principal applications and the number of charter schools participating in the process has also grown.

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