Jul 23, 2019

JoAnn Matthews to Join Louisiana Department of Education as Southern Network Leader August 5

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education today announced JoAnn Matthews, former superintendent of the Lafourche Parish School District, will serve as a Network Leader for 37 school systems in the southern part of the state, acting as the primary point of contact between the Department and local school system superintendents on matters related to school system support and school improvement. 

As Southern Network Leader, Matthews will partner with school system leaders to identify, plan for and implement evidence-based strategies focused on ensuring all students are meeting grade-level standards. More specifically, Matthews will:

  • Partner with the Department's executive team to establish the statewide school improvement strategy;
  • Collaborate with local school system leaders to build a plan for school improvement, specifically for schools identified as in need of improvement under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act;
  • Manage a team of network-based coaches to support school systems with the implementation of these plans;
  • Track progress toward state and school system goals and make adjustments to the network's approach in response; and 
  • Provide ongoing feedback on Department initiatives based on knowledge of school system priorities.

Matthews joins the Department after 30 years of committed service to the Lafourche Parish School District, where she served as a teacher, administrative assistant, assistant principal, principal, human resources supervisor, interim superintendent, and most recently, superintendent, a position she held for 13 years before her retirement in 2018. She has also held roles in various local, state and national education leadership organizations, and has received numerous accolades for her service. Matthews received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Nicholls State University, and her doctorate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette--all in education. 

"Under the watch of Dr. Matthews, the Lafourche Parish School District pushed for greater student achievement, and as a result, ranked No.3 statewide for top academic growth in 2018. That same year, all three senior high schools in the district earned 'A' school ratings, and the number of students earning college-going scores on the ACT and graduating in four years reached an all-time high," said State Superintendent John White. "We are thrilled she is bringing her leadership and expertise to the state level to help other school system leaders find the same success."

"In addition to her strong academic track record, Dr. Matthews has proven herself to be an effective communicator who is capable of defining a vision for success and mobilizing diverse groups to accomplish goals toward that vision," said Sandy Holloway, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who represents the district that includes Lafourche Parish. "I look forward to working with Dr. Matthews in this new capacity, in which I am confident she will shine."

Matthews will join the Department on August 5, 2019, in time for the 2019-2020 school year. She will work alongside Dana Talley, who serves as the Northern Network Leader, and she will replace Francis Touchet, who served as Southern Network Leader for seven years and who is now the associate superintendent of the Lafayette Parish School System. 

"I have the drive and the desire to contribute to something bigger than myself: an investment in our children and our future," Matthews said. "My devotion to doing what I love has helped me develop an excellent track record of success, and I believe that my professional background, leadership skills and consensus building ability will serve as support as our network team works collaboratively with districts and district leaders to improve educational opportunities for students."

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