University of New Orleans alumnae dominated the lists of recently named teachers and principals of the year in the Jefferson Parish Public School System, which has the largest public school enrollment among Louisiana districts. Out of six educators and administrators recognized, three are UNO graduates and one is a current Ph.D. student.
Tamara Warner was named Jefferson Parish Public School System elementary school principal of the year and is currently a Ph.D. student in educational administration at UNO. She has been principal at Gretna No. 2 Academy for two years. According to Warner, building the individual strengths of each teacher through continuous professional development is the key to meeting academic goals.
“Supporting the teaching and learning process within my school is one of the most challenging, yet gratifying, responsibilities as the school leader,” said Warner. “This single aspect of leadership yields the strongest implications regarding students’ academic success and the growth of the school.”
Karla Russo was named Jefferson Parish Public School System high school principal of the year. She received a master’s degree in educational administration from UNO in 2010 and has served as principal at Haynes Academy in Old Metairie for three years. Among Russo’s recent accomplishments are seeing 88% of her junior class score a 25 or higher on the ACT and increasing her school’s capacity through community and stakeholder engagement. According to Russo, increasing dialogue and communication beyond the campus has yielded positive results.
“Communication has helped us raise funding, seek partnerships with local universities and corporations and increase community presence on campus,” said Russo.
Melissa Sallinger, named Jefferson Parish Public School System high school teacher of the year, received a master’s degree in educational administration from UNO in 2011 and teaches Algebra II and leadership at Bonnabel Magnet Academy High. She makes college and career readiness a priority by creating and leading school-wide initiatives aimed at improving ACT scores and boosting student involvement on campus and throughout the community.
“The direct contact I have with my students,” said Sallinger, “enables me to teach them the skills they need to be successful in my class and in future classes, preparing them to be college and career ready.”
Doha Mosrie was named Jefferson Parish Public School System elementary school teacher of the year. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UNO in 2012 and now teaches fifth grade English language arts and social studies at Harold Keller Elementary in Metairie. She serves as her grade-level chairperson and leads the school’s student council. She founded a mentoring program for new teachers and dedicates many of her Saturdays to a tutoring program.
“Inspiring students to reach their fullest potential and future success is the most gratifying aspect of teaching,” said Mosrie. “I believe that teachers are responsible for providing students with appropriate content, knowledge and skills.”
The Louisiana Department of Education annually honors the state’s most exceptional educators through the teacher and principal of the year programs. Honorees at the district level in 2017 are candidates for 2018 statewide teacher and principal of the year.