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JPPSS Announces Teachers of the Year and Principals of the Year

The Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) announced its honorees for the 2016 Louisiana Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year programs, recognition programs run by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that honor the most exceptional educators from each local school system throughout the state.

Named as the 2016 JPPSS Teachers of the Year are Pablo M.M. Pato, 3rd grade, Geraldine Boudreaux Elementary; Shannon Walker, 8th grade, Henry Ford Middle School; and Riley Collins, 9th grade, Grace King High School.

Pato has been a veteran of the classroom for 10 years and currently teaches science, social studies, math, and Spanish at Boudreaux. He holds a master’s degree – title of Maestro with specialization in foreign language from the University of Oviedo, Spain.

In nominating her former colleague, Elizabeth H. Anderson said, “‘Pato’ translated into English means ‘duck,’ and Mr. Pato’s students always appeared to me like little ducklings surrounding a parent. They wanted to please him with their behavior, knowledge, and linguistic growth.”

Walker has taught in the district for 16 years, beginning at Marrero Middle and currently as an English language arts teacher at Ford. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Dillard University and a certification in elementary education from Southern University in New Orleans.

She set a goal for herself and her students last year to raise test scores from the previous year. Her students met that goal.

“One of my proudest moments occurred when a female student who had a basic score the previous year scored advanced on the iLEAP test,” Walker said. “She was so excited that she ran up to me and almost knocked me off my feet. I cried tears of joy at the sight of her and her achievement. It was exhilarating!”

Collins graduated from Boston College with a bachelor of arts degree and has taught Algebra I at King for the past three years.

Utilizing her fluency in Spanish to incorporate dual language strategies in her Algebra I classes, Collins has “created an avenue for previously underserved students,” according to her principal Meg Griffon.

The 2016 Principals of the Year are Suzanne Bordlee of Leo Kerner, Jr. Elementary School, Faith Joseph of Henry Ford Middle School, and Jaime Zapico of Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology Academy.

Bordlee has served as Kerner’s principal for the past four years. She holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of New Orleans. She was previously an assistant principal at Janet Elementary and a teacher at Hart Elementary.

Kerner teacher Shelley Relayson said in her recommendation that Bordlee ends each morning news announcement with, “have a great day and I will see you throughout the building.” Relayson continued, “[Throughout the building] is where you will find her working diligently to maintain the success of our school.”

According to kindergarten teacher Kaye Dale, Bordlee is “willing to do anything to help anyone, from tying a child’s shoelace, to helping a teacher critique her own lesson plans, to raising our school’s performance score to an ‘A’.”

For the past eight years, Joseph has been at the helm of Ford. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a master of education degree from the University of New Orleans. Her prior JPPSS experience includes teaching, serving as the dean of students, and twice leading schools as the assistant principal.

Germain Gilson, chief student support officer at JPPSS, had high praise for Joseph.

“I am encouraged about the direction of education in our state when I look at the hard work being done by Ms. Joseph and the entire Henry Ford community,” she said. “They have accepted the challenge of increased accountability at every level.”

Zapico has led Taylor for the past six years as principal. She has a bachelor of arts degree and a master of education degree from the University of New Orleans. In 2013, Zapico was named JPPSS Middle School Principal of the Year.

In her recommendation, Phyllis Taylor, wife of the late Patrick F. Taylor, touted the school’s accomplishments including national honors, consistently being named to the list of best schools, and the numerous scholarships students have received from prestigious universities. None of this would have occurred, Taylor said, without the leadership and work ethic of Zapico.

“Congratulations to these extraordinary teachers and principals for their achievements, not just over the past year but throughout their entire careers,” said Michelle Blouin-Williams, acting superintendent of JPPSS. “We are so grateful for their continued service and dedication to the students and families of the Jefferson Parish community.”

The district’s Teachers of the Year and Principals of the Year are now eligible to be selected as the statewide Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year by the LDOE. Semifinalists for the state recognition will be announced in February 2015, and finalists will be announced in July 2015. For more information on the programs, visit www.louisianabelieves.com/teaching/award-programs.