Marathon Garyville Refinery to provide $350K grant for St. John Parish teachers

Published 11:01 am Thursday, August 4, 2022

GARYVILLE — St. John the Baptist Parish (SJBP) Public Schools today kicked off the 2022-2023 school year under the theme “Journey to Excellence” bolstered by a $350,000 workforce development grant to the SJBP Education Foundation from Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s Garyville Refinery. The grant will cover the accreditation costs for all non-certified teachers within the school system – approximately 120 teachers.

“Today, all employees across the school system met to jointly kick off the upcoming school year,” said SJBP Public Schools Interim Superintendent Rebecca Johnson. “Marathon’s announcement added to this morning’s excitement, as it will help elevate our work for the children we serve while supporting the professional development of educators within our schools.”

The workforce development initiative comes as part of a larger community investments commitment that Marathon launched locally in 2021, following Hurricane Ida’s impact on the area. The larger initiative, totaling approximately $2.85 million to date in grants from Marathon, celebrates the the community’s resiliency while contributing to its brighter tomorrow.

Upon learning of Marathon’s recent support, Paula Henderson, an inclusion and special education teacher within the school system commented on how it will positively contribute to her personal career goals as an educator. “I’ve always wanted to become a teacher, and after retiring from a 34-year, fulltime corporate job, I started my dream career at East St. John High School last school year, within a week of my corporate retirement,” Henderson said. “This will be my second year teaching, and I love what I do. I am excited for what this year will bring, including my certification as a teacher.”

Another teacher who will benefit from Marathon’s contribution, Diashiki Snyder-Brown at East St. John Preparatory Academy, responded to the news saying, “After the pandemic, I decided to change careers and become an educator. Previously, while working a business job, I had volunteered as a mentor in the school system. My passion is math, and I’m eager to receive my accreditation with it as a core subject so that I can share my passion for math and mentoring with my students. I appreciate Marathon’s support for teachers in our community.”

This morning’s announced workforce development initiative was a collaborative idea between SJBP Public Schools leadership and Marathon’s Garyville Refinery leaders, who wanted to support the school system as it embarks on its “Journey to Excellence.”

“Nearly one year ago, following Hurricane Ida, we promised our community that we’d go above and beyond to help it not only rebuild, but thrive,” said Marathon Petroleum’s Vice President of Refining Michael Henschen. “Our community’s educators are critical to our children’s futures, and we’re proud to support them through this initiative as St. John the Baptist Parish continues to recover.”

The accreditation process for currently uncertified, local teachers will now come at no personal cost to them due to Marathon’s announced funding. Additionally, their salaries will increase once certified, as certified teachers in the school system earn more than non-certified teachers.

“As an educator who became certified through an alternative route, I am ecstatic that our teachers now have a resource to assist in obtaining certification,” said Johnika Gayden, a principal within the school system. “Certification also equates to a quality of life increase for our teachers who work so hard, and this will help the school system overall with teacher retention and hiring.”

Currently, approximately 4,700 students have registered within the school system for the new school year, and 417 local educators are ready to teach them. At today’s “Back to School Bash” event, these teachers, along with other employees of the school system, heard well wishes for a great school year from several guest speakers, including Marathon Petroleum Stakeholder Engagement Representative Iman Montgomery. Montgomery thanked the nearly 1,000 event attendees for what they do.

“At Marathon, when describing our work in producing energy, we like to say we’re in the business of enhancing life’s possibilities,” said Montgomery. “As I look across this gym, I see all of you who also work to make a positive and measurable impact, particularly in helping our community’s youth succeed. Your work is so important, and we are proud to support it.”

Anyone interested in employment within the school system can find available opportunities here.