A Message from Patrice Pujol, Superintendent?Ascension Parish School System

Staff reports

For years schools were a place where children came to learn by sitting in individual seats in classrooms and receiving instruction from a teacher. Children who understood the lesson would be ready to move on to the next, but what would happen to that child who did not understand the lesson or could not pick up a concept? For some of those students, it could be a long school year filled with anxiety and even disappointment.

Today research has proven that the one-size-fits-all approach to educating our children does not work. The world has changed, and the role of educators in the classroom has changed as well. As their role continues to evolve, successful educators must work at staying abreast of the ever-changing world – more diverse student populations, more rigorous standards, higher expectations from business and community, and global competitiveness.

We believe that the professional development of our educators and continuous improvements of their instructional practices are an essential part of improving student learning. This important premise is the basis of our comprehensive professional development. Our professional development goes well beyond the mandates of state and federal guidelines, encompassing professional learning communities, or PLCs, that function within the walls of each of our schools. Just as any other professional in his or her job is expected to continue to learn and train in order to be successful, an educator must do the same. And just like business owners consider professional development activities of their employees an investment in their business, we consider those activities an investment in continuous quality improvement of the school system. Simply put, our teachers – just like our students – are constantly learning and improving their knowledge and understanding of today’s curriculum. This important dedication to professional development has greatly assisted the district in attaining its top tier status in the state's accountability program, ranking in the top ten parishes in Louisiana.

In our district each school and all of our teachers are held accountable for improving student performance. Each year, the results are presented to you in our school and student performance scores. These national and state accountability measures require more of our teachers than ever before. In order to continue to raise the level of student achievement, teachers must be able to continuously refine their skills and learn new and effective teaching techniques.

Therefore, teachers need support to meet the changing demands – and they need new tools. This is why we have developed PLCs within our schools. This approach helps our teachers to have embedded professional development opportunities in their daily schedules. For more in-depth initiatives and intensive activities, our PLCs use professional development days or half-days scheduled on the calendar. The scheduled days or half-days and embedded professional development opportunities, however, do not take away from students’ instructional time. Students continue to get the necessary amount of instructional time needed as professional development initiatives are built into the school year calendar and into each school day.

We honor the importance of phenomenal educators. They have the power to frame our children’s future, and we recognize the positive impact they have on student achievement. Therefore, we hold sacred the growth of our professionals. We believe that structured, multi-faceted professional development is a key to a healthy, successful and cost effective school system. Most importantly, it gives our staff confidence and support to focus on students' academic success.

Please contact me if you have any questions, and I also encourage you to talk to your child's teacher about his or her professional learning experiences.