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New John L. Ory principal focusing on core subjects, problem solving

LAPLACE — In assuming the role of principal for the 2018-19 academic year, Monica Brown aims to promote a positive growth mentality among John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School students.

Uplifting messages and wall murals line the halls of the school, which holds a strong academic tradition, leading St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools with an ‘A’ rating.

“Solid instruction in the core subjects is our main focus,” Brown said. “Our ‘I believe in me’ theme for this year embraces the philosophy that we can always continue to grow. Instead of saying ‘I can’t do it,’ we’ll say ‘I haven’t learned how to do that yet.’”

Brown has worked at John L. Ory as a master teacher and assistant principal since 2008. Her prior experience includes special education positions at LaPlace Elementary, KIPP Central City Academy Charter School in New Orleans and R.K. Smith Middle School in Luling.

Teacher Jessica Sheppard gets her classroom ready for students.

According to Brown, John L. Ory is welcoming seven new professionals this year: Assistant Principal Robert Schaff, sixth grade teacher Michelle Bordelon, seventh/eighth grade teacher Moina Ahmed, third grade teacher Amanda Trosclair, fourth grade teacher Jessica Sheppard, TAP teacher Gail Brazile and counselor Tai Cambre.

Schaff has served 36 years in education. After retiring as supervisor of child welfare and attendance for St. John Parish Public Schools in 2008, he worked for the Department of Education and later returned to a teaching position at East St. John High.

This year, Schaff said he and Brown are implementing a cutting edge student engagement and behavioral management system known as Class Dojo. Other changes include Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) enhancements and a paperless system for behavioral referrals.

“Ms. Brown and I will be a fantastic team because we complement each other in our backgrounds in education,” Schaff said.

Sheppard, the new fourth grade ELA and social studies instructor, has nine years of experience teaching children through third grade. She said the John L. Ory family is wonderful and welcoming.

John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School is located at 182 W 5th St. in LaPlace.

Brown said the willing spirit faculty members have demonstrated this summer through collaborative organization efforts and participation in school district training is inspiring.

She wants to start a tradition of referring to faculty, staff and administration as professionals. Likewise, students would be called scholars.

“When you’re referred to as a scholar and a valuable part of a school family, it builds you up more than labeling you as a LEAP test score,” Brown said. “We have children come in at a variety of academic levels, and we want to build them into critical thinkers and problem solvers.”

Other proposed additions to the school include an awning over the front entrance and a new Carnegie unit choir class, Brown said.

The first day of school is Aug. 8 for first through eighth graders. John L. Ory kindergartners start the year with two half days Aug. 9 and 10.

A contract signing night on Aug. 6 will give students, parents and guardians a chance to meet teachers and review goals for the school year.

For more information, visit John L Ory is ALIVE on Facebook.