Boquet: Top teacher Dottolo continues local tradition

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

An honor that only goes to 18 teachers in all of Louisiana each year is, for the third year in a row, going to a teacher right here in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District.

The honor is being named a semi-finalist for Louisiana Teacher of the Year and, to put that in perspective, that’s only 18 people out of the approximately 50,000 teachers across the state of Louisiana.

We couldn’t be happier for our District Elementary School Teacher of the Year Mrs. Karen Dottolo who, with more than 30 years in the classroom, has certainly earned it.

Christal Sylvain, principal at John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School where Dottolo teaches, describes the teacher as invested in ensuring the success of her students and willing to meet each student where they are to give them the individualized support needed to ensure their success.

She described Dottolo’s classroom as filled with a culture of support, a place where students are comfortable with taking educational risks and where hard work is the norm. All of this has paid off, as every one of her students has met the state requirement for passing the LEAP test in fourth grade for the past 15 years.

Mrs. Sylvain knows a thing or two about good teachers. Last year’s Louisiana State Teacher of the Year semi-finalist from St. John the Baptist Parish Natalie Klibert is also from her school.

With Teacher Appreciation Week coming up next week it seems like a good time to reflect on these kind of educators who have made a positive impact on our lives.

Nearly everyone can think back and remember someone.

For me personally, it was almost always English teachers who encouraged my love of writing. For you, it may have been a math teacher, music teacher or coach.

And what we didn’t realize at the time was how much being a teacher is more than “just a job.”

I’m always amazed that there are still some people who think teachers show up during school hours, go home, maybe grade some papers and then take the summer off.

I can tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth.

Whether it be volunteering as a coach, sponsor or tutor or showing up to cheer on their students at after-hours activities such as sporting events or awards ceremonies, our teachers often give as much of themselves outside of the classroom as they do inside the classroom.

This often takes them away from their families — and plenty of times those families get taken along for the ride.

So, if you think about it next week, drop a line to your favorite teacher — past or present — and let them know how much those sacrifices meant to you.

The demands put on our teachers increase every year.

We can only hope that the Mrs. Dottolos of the world stick it out and continue to make a difference in the lives of their students.

Jennifer Boquet is the communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. Email her at