Brittany Bonnaffons of Hahnville High School has been selected as the 2023 State Teacher of the Year and Dr. David Schexnaydre Jr. of Harry M. Hurst Middle School is the 2023 State Principal of the Year.
The Louisiana Department of Education recently announced the honors.
“I would like to extend my personal congratulations to Brittany and David and thank them on behalf of the entire Department,” State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley said.
In partnership with Dream Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Principals, the LDOE annually recognizes and celebrates the state’s leading educators through Louisiana’s Educator Awards Programs. These programs provide an opportunity to acknowledge teachers and leaders who are making exceptional gains with students. This year all winners were celebrated at the 16th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Awards Gala at the World War II Museum in New Orleans on July 30.
Bonnaffons is starting her 12th year as a teacher. She teaches college algebra and algebra at HHS, as well as serves as the head track coach.
“I am extremely honored to represent the teachers here in Louisiana,” she said. “Words cannot express it. I truly hope to represent all teachers well and to be a voice and a light for the profession. My platform is about making room for students to shine – helping students and teachers to find joy. This is the beginning of a beautiful year that I hope highlights the St. Charles community as well as the teaching profession.”
Teachers are gifts, Bonnaffons said.
“I hope to show as many of those gifts to the world as I can – my gifts and the gifts of other teachers who also deserve a moment in the spotlight,” she said. “I love my co-workers and administration. I know that I am never going into new ventures – or even old ventures – blindly.”
Bonnaffons is married to Brett Bonnafoons. They have three children – Braden, Jimmie, and Mya. She said she has a host of supporters who constantly cheer her on, including her mom, dad, sisters, children, husband, HHS Principal Jose Gonzales, and co-workers Jennifer Matthews, Phil Bychurch, Amy Crochet and Allison Cranford. She said that her track coaching staff – Jacob Thompson, Nate Singleton, Yussef Jasmine, Jasper Vinnett and Richard Abarr – are also crucial to any success she has achieved.
“It’s the community … so many … more than I can name that paved the way for me to be in this position,” she said. “I am grateful for that.”
Schexnaydre said other than being a father and husband, being the principal at Harry Hurst is his favorite thing he’s ever done.
“It’s absolutely overwhelming, and it’s not something I set out to do,” he said of his Principal of the Year accolade. “Since I got the opportunity and privilege to become the principal at Hurst four years ago, my only focus was doing absolutely everything I could to make this school as good as it could possibly be for the students and teachers. I’m frankly a little embarrassed by some of the notoriety because I do things to bring positive attention to our school, students, and teachers; not to myself. Looking back, it has been a tremendous amount of work, plenty of late nights and weekends, and a bunch of 3:45 a.m. wake up alarms, but I’ve been a witness to how our school has helped students and teachers so it has absolutely all been worth it.”
When he was in college and deciding on a major, Schexnaydre said he knew that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to lead a happy, rewarding and fulfilling life.
“I kept thinking about how much I loved Destrehan High School and how impactful my teachers were to me, and so I decided to be a teacher,” he said. “We have such a special thing here in St. Charles Parish.”
Schexnaydre said he absolutely loves going to Hurst every day.
“My late grandmother, Yvonne Roussell Schexnaydre, was the only person in her family to graduate high school. She graduated from Destrehan High and her favorite teacher was Harry Hurst,” he said. “She instilled that love of education in her children and grandchildren, so to be here decades later and win Louisiana Principal of the Year as the principal at the school that bears the name of the teacher who made an impact on my grandmother is just incredibly special. I probably couldn’t have imagined it any better if I tried. The faculty and staff here at Hurst are the best group of human beings I’ve ever been around and they are the main reason for our success.”
Schexnaydre said while he is honored to have received the award, there may have been a mistake.
“They really should have given the award to my wife and kids,” he said. “My wife Leanne and our two children, David and Julia, are the real MVPs. They support me in everything I do and provide me with everything I need to live my best life and go out and be Hurstastic every day. I’m blessed and fulfilled in my professional life, but it still pales in comparison to all that I have in my personal life.”