|DISTRICT NEWS, Williams is State Principal of the Year Finalist - 2015.06.23
GONZALES PRIMARY PRINCIPAL JAIMEE WILLIAMS IS A FINALIST FOR LOUISIANA PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR
Ascension Public Schools Poised for Back-to-Back Honors
GONAZALES, La. – On July 11, Ascension Public Schools will find out if it has back-to-back winners of Louisiana Principal of the Year. Pecan Grove Primary Principal Marjorie Meyers is finishing her reign as the 2015 winner and Gonzales Primary Principal Jaimee Williams is one of nine finalists for the 2016 honor.
“We are blessed with hardworking, dedicated leaders at Ascension Public Schools who believe in the success of every child. The positive change Principal Williams has enacted at Gonzales Primary in such a short time proves strong leadership can transform an entire school. I am immensely proud of her and believe she is deserving of this honor,” said Patrice Pujol, Ascension Public Schools Superintendent and the 2015 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year.
“Earning the state honor would be validation for my staff, students and the community of Gonzales Primary,” said Williams. “I believe it is the absolute greatest school in Ascension Parish and the state, and I am the luckiest principal in the world.”
During her first year as principal of Gonzales Primary in 2012, Williams was faced with turning around a school that was one point away from an “F” in student performance. Her first task was to raise expectations and position teachers to meet those expectations. She ended up hiring 13 new teachers between September and November of that first year.
“My priority was to seek out teachers who wanted to be here and believed in our ability to achieve success. Then, I had to promote the good, as success breeds success. Essentially, we had to build a culture of collective efficacy,” said Williams.
Her first milestone came after Christmas of that first year when she compared quarterly performance data to the previous year and already saw improvement. By sharing that with her teachers, it reinforced the belief and drive.
Williams’ strategy worked and by mid-May, Gonzales Primary’s performance scores grew an astounding 26 points to be one half a point short of a “B.”
“I was crying, in complete shock and awe over what we had accomplished,” said Williams. “That’s when we solidified the mindset that we are a high performing school.”
Jaimee Williams could be considered a non-traditional educator because she began her career in a different field.
“I know this is my calling because I never saw myself becoming an educator, yet it is the most rewarding, fun, and hardest job I have ever had. This is so much more than a job to me,” said Williams.
Originally from Los Angeles, she attended high school in Natchez, Mississippi, and came to Louisiana to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge. Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication in 2000 and worked for the New Orleans Saints in sales and marketing before moving to community relations.
She never considered working in education until the Saints partnered with Teach for America, and she started working with the local schools. That experience prompted her to pursue alternative certification.
Williams taught in Iberville Parish for two years before moving to Ascension Parish to teach fifth grade at Gonzales Primary. In 2008, she became the instructional coach at Pecan Grove Primary, a new school led by Marjorie Meyers, the 2015 Louisiana Principal of the Year.
“I learned pretty much everything I know about leadership from Margie, like how to build your own culture,” said Williams. “It is an honor and a blessing to follow in her footsteps.”
In 2009, she earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Southern University. Then after serving two years as Assistant Principal of St. Amant Primary School, she returned to Gonzales Primary as Principal and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership at Southeastern Louisiana University.
A SUPPORT NETWORK
Family has had the biggest influence on Williams’ life and career goals, specifically the grandmother who helped raise her, Emma Wimley; her father, Earl McCullen; and her 10-year-old daughter, Kynedee.
“My dad is my biggest supporter. He went to college with the intent to become an educator, and he always pushed and believed in me,” she said.
Williams also credits the Ascension Parish school district for her growth as a leader and says Superintendent Pujol’s leadership continually inspires her. According to Williams, she has learned that an effective leader must know her staff and be in tune with what a positive culture looks like on her campus, as every campus culture is different.
“You have to listen to what teachers are telling you. They are the absolute experts on what is working and what is not in the classroom. You have to give and earn mutual respect,” said Williams. “My teachers have to see me as a learner and not just the gatekeeper of information.”
ON THE HORIZON
After achieving significant gains in student performance and overhauling the campus culture, what is on the horizon for Principal Williams and Gonzales Primary?
“We are now in a different playing field. It’s not just good enough that we are meeting basic level performance. We must continually raise expectations,” she said.
“Our next focus is to get more community and industry involvement in our school. We want to give our students the opportunity to see the successes in their own communities and know what opportunities are available to them if they work hard,” said Williams.
The winner of the 2016 Louisiana Principal of the Year will be announced at the Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration on July 11, 2015 in Baton Rouge. For more information about the statewide program, visit http://dreamteachers.org/semifinalists2016.html.
|DISTRICT NEWS, NEW LEADERSHIP HIRES ANNOUNCED - 2015.06.05
| DONALDSONVILLE, La. -- Summer is a busy hiring time for education. This week’s annual job fair attracted over 250 people, and Ascension Public Schools recently filled key leadership positions at the central office, APPLe Digital Academy, Pecan Grove Primary, and Lowery Middle School.
"We are the largest employer in Ascension Parish, and I feel that we have the most talented and dedicated education staff in Louisiana," said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent Patrice Pujol. "This is always an exciting time when we see new leaders emerge and grow our employee base to keep up with annual student enrollment increases."
Scroll down for specific position announcements. Marjorie Meyers Murry, Instructional Leadership Partner Marjorie Meyers Murry, Louisiana’s Elementary Principal of the Year from Pecan Grove Primary, was promoted to Instructional Leadership Partner, where her expertise will be utilized across the district.
Originally from Denham Springs, Murry has worked in education for 26 years including as a principal, assistant principal and teacher coach. She served as Pecan Grove Primary's Principal since 2008 and won the national TAP Founder's Award this year for turnaround performance efforts. “I am looking forward to my continued service to the families of Ascension Parish in my new role as Instructional Leadership Partner,” said Murry.
She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southeastern Louisiana University. Amy Champagne, Principal of Pecan Grove Primary Amy Champagne was named Principal of Pecan Grove Primary in Gonzales.
“I am blessed that the district has allowed me to return to Pecan Grove as the new principal and thankful for all the opportunities the district has given me throughout my career,” said Champagne.
Born in St. Amant, Champagne is a lifelong resident of Ascension Parish. Sixteen years ago she began at G.W. Carver Primary as a first and fifth grade teacher. She served as a literacy and instruction coach at Donaldsonville Primary, then a master teacher at Pecan Grove Primary until her most recent position as assistant principal of Duplessis Primary.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a master’s degree from the American College of Education. In 2006, Champagne achieved National Board Certification.
Lynn Hathaway, Principal of APPLe Digital Academy Lynn Hathaway was named Principal of APPLe Digital Academy in Darrow. APPLe enrolls 250-300 students in remediation, High School Equivalency, and online programs.
“I am thrilled at this opportunity,” said Hathaway. “I truly believe in the mission of Ascension Public Schools, ‘Every Child Successful in an Ever-Changing World,’ and I believe APPLe lies at the core of that mission.”
Hathaway, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, practiced law before becoming a special education coordinator and Assistant Principal of APPLe Digital Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Youngstown State University, a Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University, and a master’s degree in special education from Louisiana State University.
Paul Sampson, Assistant Principal of Lowery Middle School Paul Sampson was named Assistant Principal of Lowery Middle School in Donaldsonville.
Sampson, born in Evanston, Illinois, and raised in Baton Rouge, joined Ascension Public Schools in 2010 as a teacher and athletic academic coordinator/coach at East Ascension High School. Prior to joining Ascension, he worked as a financial advisor for J.P. Morgan Chase.
“I am thankful to Coach Randy Watts, Ms. Lauren Avery and the East Ascension community for supporting and preparing me for this position. I look forward to becoming part of the Donaldsonville community and assisting Principal Grimes and her leadership team,” said Sampson.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Louisiana State University. Sampson's wife, Dareth, is a counselor at St. Amant High School. Their daughter, Grace, will turn two years old in August.
Jackie Tisdell, Public Information Officer for Ascension Public Schools Jackie Tisdell was named Ascension Public Schools new public information officer. Born in Baton Rouge and a resident of Prairieville, Tisdell holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Centenary College of Louisiana and a master’s degree in communication from Louisiana State University.
Over the last 12 years she worked for the University of Louisiana System (UL System) as Assistant Vice President for Communications, Executive Director of Student Initiatives and Outreach, and Assistant Director of Communications. The UL System is the management board for Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and the University of New Orleans.
“It is an honor to work for Superintendent Patrice Pujol and Ascension Public Schools. Over 10 years ago, my husband and I moved to Ascension Parish because of the school system. Today, our two sons attend Prairieville Primary, and we have had exceptional educational experiences at both the school and district level. I look forward to communicating all the wonderful things taking place across the school system,” said Tisdell.
For more information about Ascension Public Schools, visit www.apsb.org. Click here for job openings and employment information.
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