New campus creates school roots: Classroom success driven by some of District’s best

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Faculty, staff and students of Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School in LaPlace have a lot to be proud of.

Recently honored District Principal of the Year Jason Beber, District Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Alexander and Michel Delatte and fifth grade District Student of the Year Teryn Davis hail from the school, signaling an atmosphere of unparalleled devotion to growth and success.

Named a 2017 Top Gains School by the Louisiana Department of Education for exceeding expectations and increasing its school performance score by more than 10 points, Lake Pontchartrain Elementary has had a whirlwind year of academic development.

The honors coincide with the transition to a new state-of-the-art school building, which opened to students last month more than five years after the original site sustained damage from Hurricane Isaac’s floodwaters.

Upon becoming principal three years ago, Beber laid out a plan to change Lake Pontchartrain Elementary from a failing school to a high-performing school.

Yasmin Moore, above, Amari Anderson and fifth grade District Student of the Year Teryn Davis are three of many students excited about having a new, permanent Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School to call home.

An emphasis on goal setting and achievement levels of mastery or above has fostered student growth, he said.

Though humbled to be recognized as District Principal of the Year, Beber said school business would continue as usual with or without the honor.

The focus should be on the teachers who inspire students to learn and grow every day, he said.

“It’s just a representation of the teachers we have here,” Beber said.

“You can’t be District Principal of the Year without having awesome teachers.”

He said he would clone Delatte and Alexander if he could, adding both teachers set high standards for the school by going above and beyond to help students and fellow teachers.

Delatte, a 14-year veteran in education, said she anticipates nothing less than excellence from her students because children model what is expected of them.

Michel Delatte and Yasmin Moore smile for the camera.

While teaching seventh grade ELA, she loves to see the look of realization pass over students’ faces when they finally grasp a concept.

Seventh grader Yasmin Moore said attending Delatte’s class is her favorite part of coming to school each day.

“I always get As in that class,” Moore said. “I like the way she teaches, even when she pushes me to do better.”

Delatte said teaching is a joy, and she believes students can sense whether teachers are invested in their success.

“The day I stop loving my job is the day I need to quit,” Delatte said. “Kids need someone who loves teaching. If you don’t love it, you don’t need to be here, because they’ll pick up on it.”

Alexander, a fifth grade math teacher, has a similar passion for teaching.

“The relationships I’ve built with the students are amazing,” Alexander said. “They’ll come up to me and give me a big hug. It’s like they’re my babies.”

Throughout the year, she focuses on reviewing data and setting goals for each student.

Alexander said fifth grade District Student Teryn Davis is following in their footsteps, always eager to sacrifice her lunch periods to tutor students or guide others to the right answer in class.

Teryn said the Student of the Year recognition made her feel happy because it means she is on a path to success. She said being a good student means having a willingness to learn and being respectful to teachers and peers.

“I want people to know to never slack off,” Davis said.

“Pay attention in class, always try to succeed and make goals for yourself.”

Delatte said the school’s student population has endured crazy physical and emotional changes, losing everything and starting from nothing after Hurricane Isaac.

Many students are on a full-fledged campus for the first time, and Beber believes new additions to the school including science and art classrooms and computer labs will allow students to reach new heights.

Middle school student Amari Anderson said the gym and cafetorium are the most impressive aspects of the new school, as the temporary campus lacked flexibility. She considers the new building a stable and safe environment.

Yasmin agreed the gym is a welcome addition, securing more space for P.E., and she also enjoys flexible seating arrangements in larger classrooms.