Capitol Elementary, CSAL Middle, and Istrouma High School Win $15,000 Teacher Appreciation Contest

Baton Rouge Alliance for Students Partners with ExxonMobil Baton Rouge to Thank Teachers

(Baton Rouge, La.)– The Baton Rouge Alliance for Students, Teach 225, and ExxonMobil Baton Rouge have partnered to honor educators at three Baton Rouge schools today, distributing gift cards for each classroom educator for a total of $15,000. This effort will help provide classroom supplies for the 2022-2023 school year. Schools were chosen by community vote through an open nomination process launched during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Capitol Elementary, CSAL Charter Middle, and Istrouma High School were the top three vote-getters. Each classroom teacher in these schools will receive a $150 gift card to School Aids, a local Baton Rouge-based educator-supply store, which generously added an additional 10% to each gift card, bringing each card’s value to $165.

“We want to alleviate the stress educators experience when preparing their classrooms for the school year, so they have time to focus on what’s important: fostering a great learning environment for their students,” said Adonica Pelichet Duggan, CEO of the Baton Rouge Alliance for Students. “Teachers are the most important adults in every school building, and we’re pleased to have this opportunity to show them how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication to educating Baton Rouge’s students. We want them to leave for summer knowing they are valued.” 

“Successful careers begin with successful teachers,” said Stephanie Cargile, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Public & Government Relations Manager. “We recognize the incredible role that teachers play in not only preparing students for the opportunities ahead, but also in shaping our community’s future.”

Ten days of online voting were open to parents, students, educators, and community members. A recognition celebration was held at each campus, during which teachers received their gift cards.

In Staffing Changes and Everything Else, the District Must Engage Communities Before Taking Action

BATON ROUGE, LA– Like so many in our community, I have watched the uproar over recent staffing changes in EBR Schools with concern. The Baton Rouge Alliance for Students is committed to funding equitable and student-based budgeting that prioritizes directing resources to address the needs of our most vulnerable students. If these changes were made to fill staffing gaps experienced by our community’s underserved students, the Alliance would applaud the efforts of the district administration. The instinct to direct resources to most in need students is right. However, the families of EBR have no insight into how the district evaluated existing school staffing, took programming requirements into consideration, or otherwise analyzed school needs before recommending adjustments. 

Often in these situations, it is not the “what” of a policy change that draws public ire but the “how.” Among many missteps, from dropping “impact notices” during teacher appreciation week to putting special school models at risk, district administrators did not effectively communicate the desired outcomes in advance of the proposed changes. Among the outstanding questions for the Superintendent are: what is the projected impact on educator retainment? How will we evaluate the success of these efforts?

While the ideal time for a public dialogue on this issue was before the announcement of changes, a conversation about the moves and a set of actions to demonstrate transparency should happen now. We suggest a public release outlining the school-by-school impact of the new staffing model that should be updated as educators accept assignments in new schools. Further, we believe that incentivized transfers are more effective in the long-term than forced transfers and suggest a study of best practices around recruiting and retaining hard-to-fill positions.

It is the responsibility of the district administration to inform the public about major challenges and develop potential solutions, but it is also the responsibility of the school board to ensure those changes are made with communities, not to them. Once again, the board’s inability to direct its team to engage truly fails to inspire public confidence.