LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FORINAUGURAL EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHER AND LEADER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Published 10:32 am Thursday, June 9, 2022

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education is launching the Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year award. This inaugural award is specifically for early education teachers and directors who care for and educate infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
The five finalists for Louisiana’s Early Childhood Teacher of the Year are Janie Clement (Napoleonville Primary Head Start), Kayla Joseph (St. James Parish Head Start in Vacherie), Melissa Loucks (Riverside Educational Development Center in New Roads), Annie Richardson (Caneview K-8 Head Start in Port Allen), and Natalie Sullivan (Lafourche Parish Head Start in Thibodaux). The five finalists for Early Childhood Leader of the Year are Charli Beall (Busy Bees Academy of Learning in Shreveport), Cindy Bennett Beatty (Riverside Educational Development Center in New Roads), Jennifer Kelsay (The Garden of Knowledge in Bogalusa), LeeAnn Price (Foundations Christian Learning Center in Pineville), and Rochelle Wilcox (Wilcox Academy in New Orleans).
The Department believes that early childhood education is integral to the development and academic success of all children, as well as critical to the economic prosperity of all Louisiana communities. In the last few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has particularly highlighted the extraordinary responsibility that falls on the shoulders of early childhood educators, as parents face the challenge of working from home while simultaneously providing care and education to their young children. Early childhood leaders and educators worked to keep child care businesses open and simultaneously cared for and educated the community’s youngest learners throughout the pandemic, despite the immense obstacles to maintain staff and address COVID safety protocols. These monumental efforts ensured that workers could return to work and Louisiana’s economy could recover.
All Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year finalists will be celebrated and honored at the 16th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala, which will be held at the WWII Museum in New Orleans on the evening of July 30.