Leaders participate in district dialogue

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 1, 2002


RESERVE – St. John the Baptist Parish Superintendent of Schools, Michael Coburn, recently participated in a “District Dialogue” at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Coburn addressed the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) along with other educators from the state to help community and civic leaders establish a clear vision of student achievement as a top priority of the school system. They also brought up the notion to raise public awareness of public school performance.

According to Coburn, St. John Parish was randomly selected as a “medium district” for review by a special “District Dialogue” panel. The panel included BESE members, legislators, business leaders and state Department of Education officials.

Beauregard Parish officials were also randomly selected to meet with the “District Dialogue” panel that same day.

During the event, Coburn discussed the school system’s recent efforts to align its curriculum with state benchmarks and standards.

“It gave us the opportunity to learn more about the school system,” said Assistant Superintendent William Ocmand Jr. “It also supported what we already knew and how to make it better.”

Coburn also discussed the parish’s attention to staff development, recruitment of certified teachers and the system’s expanded use of classroom technology.

“Knowing that qualified teachers are the single greatest factor to impact learning, we have put a lot of effort into increasing our number of certified teachers,” said Coburn. “We’ve established a Practitioner Teacher Program, which is funded by a grant, that locally certifies teachers in special education.”

The panel will meet with six local school districts prior to a legislative meeting in March.

Officials from East Feliciana and Jackson parishes met with the panel last month.

Representing the “large” districts, officials representing Orleans and Caddo parishes will meet with the panel in February.

The panel is expected to meet with additional school districts after the 2002 session ends.

“The dialogue gave us the motivation to continue with the things we are doing now,” said Ocmand. “Our goal is 100 percent teacher certification and passing the LEAP test.”

Ocmand added, “Some people see our troubles as problems. We see them as challenges.”