Students celebrate principal’s award

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 20, 2002


LAPLACE – When LaPlace Elementary School Principal Courtney Millet was met recently by a handful of Sheriff’s Office cars, she was not exactly sure what was happening.

Was there an accident? Trouble down the road somewhere? Or, worse yet, had she violated some law?

No, Millet was no criminal, although some students will tell you that with her sense of discipline she could be a warden. She was just receiving a hero’s welcome from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office – a well-earned reward for her work with local elementary school students.

Highly distinguished and respected locally for her work at LES, Millet received state honors at a banquet held in Baton Rouge. To her surprise, she was selected from among several hard-working nominees as the 2003 Louisiana Elementary Principal of the Year.

“My sister looked up and said, ‘I am so sorry,'” Millet said laughing. “We did not think that I had won. You just get a feeling about these things.”

But sympathy for the local school administrator was premature. Her work to improve student LEAP scores and school accountability had paid off.

Millet has served as principal of LaPlace Elementary for about five years. Before taking over as principal, Millet taught second grade at LES and served as an assistant principal at Glade School.

Millet has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Educations from Louisiana State University and a Master of Education and Doctorate degrees from the University of New Orleans.

Among her accomplishments, highlighted at the banquet, was student progress on LEAP scores. According to Millet, 99 percent of LaPlace Elementary students that took LEAP passed the English/Language Arts portion of the exam. About 93 percent of students passed the Math portion.

This year, LES took home one of the highest grades on the 2001-02 Accountability Report Cards. The school performance score was almost 94, putting it academically above the state average. But an even greater accomplishment for Millet is the relationships she has developed among students, faculty and staff.

“I love her,” teacher Anita Rodrigues said. “She is very supportive. If we have problems we can take them to her. If we have dreams, she will listen.”

Rodrigues was one of the many well-wishers who waited in the cold to welcome Millet. When Millet pulled into the parking lot with her entourage of police escorts, students and staff went wild with enthusiasm and school spirit.

Students waved streamers and shook rattles filled with dry beans or rice. The cafeteria staff stepped out to lead the parade, beating pots and pans with spoons and other kitchen utensils.

“We want you to know, Ms. Millet, we love you and think that you are the best,” said Joann Boudreaux, cafeteria manager.

Millet’s voice trembled as she addressed her enormous fan club and little voices whispered around her, “Is she crying?”

“I would not be principal of the year if not for all of you,” Millet said. “Boys and girls, you are super. I am so proud to be Principal of the Year at LaPlace Elementary.”

Candidates for Louisiana Principal of the Year were first selected from regional competitions. At state, the candidates had to present detailed portfolios and give interviews for a panel of judges.

“It was very exciting,” Millet said. “But it is so important for me to stress that I would not have this title without the hard work of every faculty member and staff member at the school.”

Principal Debra Schum, East St. John High School, won Louisiana High School Principal of the Year. She could not be reached at press time. A celebration for the high school administrator was planned Friday.

“There has never been another time in the state of Louisiana when two principals won from the same parish,” Superintendent Michael Coburn said.

“I am still on cloud nine. They are probably two of the most hardworking, dedicated principals that we have.”