By David Vitrano
PAULINA – Louisiana First Lady Supriya Jindal’s face has been a common sight in classrooms across the state for the past several years, most commonly to award classrooms with interactive whiteboard technology. But when she came to Paulina Elementary School last week, her mission was a little different.
Her visit was part of the School Surprise Program, which just got off the ground this year. Jindal visited with the students in all four of the school’s kindergarten classes to deliver items requested by the teachers themselves to better facilitate learning in the classroom. In addition to the “wish list” items, Jindal also presented each classroom with Louisiana-themed coloring books, a picture book about her family and trading cards featuring Gov. Bobby Jindal, along with numerous popular children’s books.
“This is a new project,” said Jindal, who said she thought it was important to provide this kind of assistance at the kindergarten level. “We really want to make sure the kids master the basics.”
Jindal also said she thinks one of the most important aspects of the program is the input it receives from teachers and principals. With the help of AT&T the wish lists the foundation received from the teachers at Paulina were provided in their entirety to the classrooms. Most of the items were manipulatives the students can use to help them master skills at individual “learning centers.”
“We wanted the teachers to truly have some input,” said Jindal.
During each of the classroom visits, Jindal also spent some one-on-one time with the students reading to them and answering any questions they might have. In contrast to some of her other classroom visits, this time around she seemed to be focusing more on literacy instead of math and science.
“I’m a strong proponent of all of them,” she said.
Paulina Elementary Principal Hollie Folse was appreciative of the visit.
“I want to thank Mrs. Jindal and the AT&T Foundation for their commitment to improving education in St. James Parish Public Schools,” she said. “This investment will allow our teachers to purchase hands-on materials for classroom centers in order to engage our students and improve learning.”
Jindal said she hopes to cover 100 classrooms by the end of the year.