Two UNO Alumni Win "Principal of the Year" and "Teacher of the Year"
The Louisiana Department of Education State Superintendent's Office announced Friday that University of New Orleans alumni took the 2014 state titles for "Principal of the Year" and "Teacher of the Year."
Ajit "AJ" Pethe, principal at Luling Elementary in St. Charles Parish and La'Keisha McKinney, an elementary school teacher in St. Charles Parish were honored Saturday at the Seventh Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration. The annual symposium is a day of professional development and recognition for Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists.
According to the state superintendent's office, the 2014 Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year programs represent Louisiana's commitment to effective instructional and leadership practices that will lead to student success in college and career.
Pethe, who holds a Master of Education degree from UNO's College of Education and Human Development, was an educator for 16 years and has served as principal at Luling Elementary for the past six years. He has led Luling Elementary, which educates students from pre-Kindergarten through 5th grade, to increase its school performance score by nearly twenty points during his six-year tenure.
McKinney, who was selected in April as St. Charles Parish's elementary school teacher of the year, received a Bachelor of Arts in education from the UNO COEHD in 1997, her Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction in 1999 and a gifted certification in 2011 from UNO. McKinney has taught in St. Charles Parish Public Schools for the past 15-and-a-half years. She is currently serving as a gifted math and reading teacher at R.J. Vial Elementary School in Paradis.
State Superintendent John White thanked Pethe and McKinney for being "educators who truly inspire, not only their students and those they lead, but all of us through their unceasing dedication to children."
He expressed gratitude and thanks to Pethe and McKinney for "their passionate service to this state."
"Educators are one of our state's greatest resources; achieving our student learning goals is not possible without their tireless hard work and dedication," said Holly Boffy, secretary-treasurer of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and 2010 State Teacher of the Year. She gave "...heartfelt thanks to every educator working to improve outcomes for kids."
Educators attending Saturday's symposium and awards ceremony were honored at a luncheon led by Dream Teachers, a non-profit organization founded in 2007 to recognize Louisiana's finest educators and educational leaders and to encourage educational excellence. They participated in workshops focused on the state's transition to more rigorous standards and assessments.
At the awards ceremony, Dream Teachers and other sponsors presented Pethe with $3,900 in rewards and recognition. McKinney received more than $30,000.