St. Charles Parish Public School System’s 2017-18 Teachers of the Year were named at a March 8 banquet at Ormond Plantation.
This year’s honorees are Jordan Vicknair of Luling Elementary School, Stephanie Clark-Gullage of R.K. Smith Middle School and Hope Barnhill of Hahnville High School.
St. Charles Parish Public School System’s Teachers of the Year were named at a March 8 banquet at Ormond Plantation.
With 6-1/2 years experience, Jordan Vicknair, a kindergarten teacher at Luling Elementary School, is among this year’s Teachers of the Year.
“I have the special privilege of truly starting from the very beginning when it comes to learning and gaining knowledge,” Vicknair said. “One of the vast accomplishments I enjoy reflecting upon and studying is the amount of knowledge my students gain in all subject areas from the beginning of the year to the end of the school year.”
Student progress and growth reflects in her dedication to teaching, passion and drive.
“My hope for the future is to be a teacher my students think of several years from now and are inspired all over again to be their best, and to accomplish their goals no matter how challenging it may be,” she said.
Vicknair said she seeks to not only go above and beyond for his students, but I also go above and beyond for education.
“I work very hard to contribute my time and expertise to fellow teachers, colleagues and future teachers,” she said.
Among her accomplishments, Vicknair recalled a special student several years ago who struggled with talking to anyone at school. But she devised a plan where the two stayed after school every Tuesday and Thursday to talk and build confidence until one day she announced, “You know I have a dog!” And, from there, she became comfortable talking to others and is still becoming successful.
Vicknair also takes pride serving as a Louisiana Teacher Leader Advisor, where she has rated different curriculums.
“I know I have made an impact on my students in a positive way,” she said. “They are the shining starts that inspire me to be the best educator that I can possibly be.”
At R.K. Smith Middle School, Stephanie Clark-Gullage teachers gifted writing and math to children in sixth through eighth grades. She brings 25 years of experience to her position.
“I cannot honestly say that I chose teaching; it is more correct to say that teaching chose me,” Clark-Gullage said. “I have had a love of learning for as long as I can remember, but as a child I only remember wanting to be a teacher for about a week during the year I was 12; I think it was wedged between my plans to be an architect and a professional magician.”
She considers her greatest professional contributions and accomplishments to be in math education. Her career accomplishments are grounded in her students’ success.
“Many come to me with preset notions of ‘I’m good at this, but I’ll never get that,’ and when those students perform beyond what they thought they could the victories (theirs and therefore mine) are sweeter than words can say,” Clark-Gullage said.
She hopes her greatest contribution to education is her example.
“If my life has shown students what they can be and what they should be, then I will be able to stand before God without shame, having done what He sent me to do,” Clark-Gullage said.
At Hahnville High School, Hope Barnhill, with 23 years of teaching experience, knew when she completed her senior year of high school that teaching seemed a good fit for her.
“I recall serving in a Vacation Bible School leadership capacity as a young teenager and marveling at the children’s excitement as they explored new ideas and learned new concepts,” said the math teacher. “This was my first taste of the fulfillment that stems from being an integral part of the learning process.”
It was also the time Barnhill realized the powerful impact teachers can have by leading children in a constructive way.
“My greatest contribution to education is my passion to meet the needs of my students,” she said. “I believe every child is unique with individual strengths and weaknesses, and all children have the capacity to learn, and it is the teacher’s responsibility to find the best learning path for each student.”
This belief became a cornerstone of her teaching philosophy when she witnessed firsthand the tireless efforts of a physical therapist to help her mentally and physically challenged son, Joshua.
It was life changing for her when this therapist also taught Joshua to communicate.
Barnhill herself became dedicated to using new strategies to encourage “deep mathematical connections and understanding” at HHS.
“The best way to kindle a passion for learning is to identify with my students in a personal yet professional way,” she said. “My ultimate desire is to positively influence my students so that they will gain the tools to positively impact our world.”
This year’s 15 finalists for the school system’s Teachers of the Year include:
- Shelly Herbert, Allemands Elementary School
- Jessica Brevelle, Lakewood Elementary School
- Jordan Vicknair, Luling Elementary School
- Bridgette Oubre, Norco Elementary School
- Andrea Champagne, Mimosa Park Elementary School
- Laurence Dupouy Chavez, St. Rose Elementary School
- Brittany Clark, Ethel Schoeffner Elementary School
- Katie Foulon, New Sarpy Elementary School
- Chelsea LaFont, R.J. Vial Elementary School
- Catherine Vanhuss, Albert Cammon Middle School
- Lauren Waguespack, Harry Hurst Middle School
- Margaret Beltz, J.B. Martin Middle School
- Stephanie Gullage, R.K. Smith Middle School
- George McGovern, Destrehan High School
- Hope Barnhill, Hahnville High School
The banquet was sponsored by Shell Norco and Cox Communications.
The Teacher of the Year Program is a national program designed to honor outstanding teachers from each state.
On the local level, the school system names its Teachers of the Year and announce an elementary, middle and high school teacher as the St. Charles Parish Teachers of the Year.
All teachers of the year must complete an application with writing samples, be observed in the classroom and be interviewed by a selection committee.