St. Charles Herald-Guide

St. Charles Parish Public Schools celebrate Teachers of the Year

Kyle Barnett - April 4, 2013

Three St. Charles Parish Public School teachers were named at the 27th annual Teacher of the Year awards ceremony held on Thursday, March 14 at Ormond Plantation in Destrehan.

The theme for the evening was "An Evening Under the Big Top," which mimicked a vintage circus.

Regina McMillan, public information coordinator for special programs, said the evening featured lively performances.

"We did have a couple of performers. We had a stilt walker, trapeze artist and a fire performer," she said.

The banquet, sponsored by Cox Communications and Norco Manufacturing Complex, recognized seventeen teachers throughout the parish.

Of those recognized, one teacher was selected from each level of schooling, elementary, middle and high school, as teacher of the year.  

La’Keisha McKinney was selected as the parish’s elementary school teacher of the year. After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of New Orleans (UNO) in 1997, McKinney joined St. Charles Parish Public Schools where she has taught 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. McKinney also received her Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction in 1999 and a gifted certification in 2011 from UNO.

In her biography sketch included in her application for the award, McKinney said it was her childhood dream to become a classroom teacher.

"As a junior in high school, I began working with an after-school tutoring program to help students who struggled in school. It was then that I discovered helping others was what I was destined to do," McKinney said. "Prior to graduating from high school, I attempted to pursue other career choices, but my heart always led me back to my first love, teaching."

McKinney said she regards teaching as the best job in the world.

"What I do every day has a direct impact on the lives of the students who enter into my classroom. My hope is that I create a trusting, learning environment that provides them with the necessary tools to recognize their own self-worth," she said.

McKinney was previously selected as teacher of the year for Mimosa Park Elementary School for the 2007-2008 school year.

The middle school teacher of the year award went to newcomer Gabrielle Pollock, a 7th grade writing teacher at Harry Hurst Middle School in Destrehan.

A former Ethel Schoeffner Scholarship for Teacher’s recipient, Pollock graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in education from Louisiana State University in 2011 and has been a teacher with St. Charles Parish Public Schools for the past year and a half.

In her self-provided biography, Pollock said she originally envisioned herself working in the mass communications field and even worked as a copy editor for a semester at LSU’s newspaper. Pollock said it did not take her very long to gravitate to education as an undergraduate.

"As much as I loved writing, I missed working with students as I did my senior year as the math aide. The next semester I changed my major to English with a concentration in secondary education," she said.

As a product of St. Charles Parish Public Schools, she said she considers herself lucky.

"I am fortunate to have been educated by St. Charles Parish Public Schools and to have been surrounded by individuals so passionate about education," Pollock said. "I am even more fortunate now to be able to work with those same individuals in our district and community creating lifelong learners and leaders."

Angie Butler was selected as the parish’s high school teacher of the year. Butler is a 9th grade algebra teacher at Destrehan High School who came to St. Charles Parish Public Schools in 2009 after spending a decade at the Lubbock Independent School District in Lubbock, Texas.

After studying kinesiology and sport sciences at San Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, Butler transferred to Texas Tech University where she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in education in 1996 from and in 2001 received a post back classroom and instruction K-8 certification. In addition to teaching algebra, Butler has served as the DHS girls basketball head coach since 2010 and this season was awarded the district 8-5A coach of the year award for her efforts on the court.

Butler said as a third generation educator she learned early on the importance of education.

"‘Getting an education’ was strongly stressed throughout my life. It was a requirement, not an option. As a child who grew up poor, my mother instilled in me the drive and self-focus to become a successful adult," she said. "I watched with amazement as she almost effortlessly made a positive impact on her students. I saw the self-gratification she received when touching the lives of young children. After understanding how important one teacher could be to so many students, I knew I wanted to become a teacher."

She said keeping a positive environment in her classroom allows her students to thrive.

"My job as an educator is to make my student’s time the most productive, successful, positive experience they could have," Butler said. "If I can be the ‘bright light’ in my students’ lives every day, then I am fulfilling my purpose as a teacher."

In addition to being selected high school teacher of the year for 2013, Butler was selected as Cox Cable teacher of the week in October 2012 and as teacher of the month at Wolffarth Elementary in Lubbock, Texas in February 2007.

Of the three teachers of the year, McKinney was selected to represent the parish in the statewide teacher of the year competition.

St. Charles Parish Public School superintendent Dr. Rodney Lafon said in a statement that he was proud of the three competition winners.

"They were chosen based upon their professional history, classroom management and superior writing and interview skills. These three teachers, along with the other 14 honorees, are shining examples of the quality instruction provided here in St. Charles Parish Public Schools," he said.

La'Keisha McKinney, Angela Butler and Gabrielle Pollock.
La'Keisha McKinney, Angela Butler and Gabrielle Pollock.