District Teachers & Leader of the Year announced

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, January 1, 2020

LAPLACE — The St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District has named its District Teachers and Leader of the Year.

Fifth Ward Elementary School Principal Dr. Brandy Vaughn has been named the Leader of Distinction.

Dr. Brandy Vaughn is the 2019-2020 Leader of Distinction.

Vaughn took over at Fifth Ward Elementary during the 2018-19 school year, after serving as a TAP master teacher at Emily C. Watkins Elementary. She led her school to a more than 4-point growth in School Performance Scores in her first year as principal.

“I am most proud when my students are able to smile with gleaming pride because they were confident when answering questions that require critical thinking,” Vaughn said. “I am also most proud when my teachers are able to ‘hang’ with the best of them; meaning, they are able to articulate what students know and are able to do as it relates to grade-level standards and effectively use data to make instructional decisions, speak confidently in settings where their colleagues meet to collaborate. These things tell me that I am doing my job. “

Vaughn is a member of the Louisiana Association of Principals.

Lorenzo Edwards is District High School Teacher of the Year.

Lorenzo Edwards of West St. John High School has been named the District High School Teacher of the Year.

Edwards has been a CTE (career and technical education) teacher at West St. John High School for the past eight years, teaching classes such as Family and Consumer Science, Nutrition Education, Baking and Pastries, ProStart, Career Readiness, Micro-Enterprise and Customer Service. In addition to those courses, he provides his students with the opportunity to earn professional credentials in ServSafe Food Management, Professional Restaurant Service and S/P2 Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“I am most proud of my ability to give back to my community by providing motivation and guidance to help our students become successful after they leave our campus,” Edwards said.

In addition to his teaching duties, Edwards is the sponsor of the school’s 4-H Club, SkillsUSA, DECA, Explorers’ Club and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. He also operates the Ram Café, a school-based enterprise that allows students to put their culinary and restaurant skills to practical use through the operation of a restaurant on the school’s campus.

“Chef Edwards is an educator whose love for his job shines through in everything he does,” West St. John High School Principal Claude Hill said. “He has always been driven to develop his skills and knowledge as a teacher and passionate about sharing his love and knowledge of culinary arts with his students. He eagerly accepts extra responsibilities and completes all tasks with a positive attitude. His die-hard Ram Pride is his connection as he develops inspiring relationships with not only students, but colleagues and the school community.”

Paris Irvin is District Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Paris Irvin of LaPlace Elementary School is the District Middle School Teacher of the Year.

She has been a teacher at LaPlace Elementary School for the past three years, starting as a sixth- and seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher. She currently teaches fifth-grade English Language Arts and social studies.

“I have only been teaching for three years, so I feel like I am still learning a lot about teaching. Earning the title of Teacher of the Year has definitely been my proudest moment. It confirms that I am walking in my purpose and being effective for my students,” she said. “To me, a good teacher builds personal relationships with their students. A good teacher also knows their students’ strengths and weaknesses and honors/rewards any growth they do show. I believe that when you build relationships with your kids and they understand that you want them to succeed, they will work twice as hard for you.”

Irvin has been the LaPlace Elementary cheer sponsor for the past two years and is a member of the National Education Association and the Louisiana Association of Educators.

“Ms. Irvin is a reflective practitioner who always puts the needs of her students first,” LaPlace Elementary Principal Zina Jones said.

Angela McDonald is District Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Angela McDonald of Fifth Ward Elementary School is the District Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

McDonald began her career in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District in 2008 as a third grade teacher at East St. John Elementary School before teaching fourth grade English Language Arts and social studies at Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School. She is currently a master teacher at Fifth Ward Elementary School for English Language Arts and Social Studies and is also a mentor teacher.

“Ms. Angela McDonald currently serves as one of our master teachers,” Fifth Ward Elementary Principal Dr. Brandy Vaughn said. “I say that proudly because she has mastered the craft of teaching and understands how it impacts learning, both of which we need here at Fifth Ward. This past year she has made many sacrifices to support the students, teachers and staff of Fifth Ward Elementary. Spending countless hours planning to ensure quality instruction, volunteering for events or just being a listening ear, she has made it her mission to improve our school.”

McDonald is also the coordinator the Louisiana Youth for Excellence Program at Fifth Ward Elementary and East St. John Preparatory Academy.

“Coordinating this program consists of writing the narrative for the grant, as well as the budget. In addition to that, I process all necessary paperwork for teachers, event reimbursements, and work directly with the executive director in the Governor’s Office to ensure compliance,” she said. “However, my most important work throughout this program has been working directly with the students. Louisiana Youth for Excellence promotes positive youth development and builds awareness of consequences for at-risk behaviors for today’s vulnerable youth. LYFE works with schools to teach goal setting, leadership development, character building and integrity. The program also provides positive youth development activities that foster positive self-esteem focused on closing the achievement gaps and LEAP remediation for targeted students in English Language Arts and math.”

Jennifer Boquet is a contributing writer to L’OBSERVATEUR and is communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. She can be reached at jboquet@stjohn.k12.la.us.

Jennifer Boquet, St. John the Baptist Parish Schools

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