Message from the Superintendent: September 2014

sept2014-enews-2-webI want to thank all of our students, families, teachers, and staff members for ensuring that the 2014-2015 school year got off to a smooth and successful start. District leaders, including board members, were excited to visit several schools to help kick off a new year, and I was so pleased to see the energy and enthusiasm from everyone on campus.

As we progress in the school year, I want to ensure that the community is aware of the district’s top priorities. I hope to use this message to highlight important initiatives and ask for your support as we work to provide the very best education for the children of Jefferson Parish.

One of our top priorities for the district is to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all students, including English Language Learners (ELL). Our goal is that all English Language Learners, including immigrant students, attain English proficiency and meet the same challenging state standards that all children are expected to meet.

Jefferson Parish Public Schools is unique in that we have, by far, the highest percentage of ELLs when compared to other districts in the state of Louisiana – and this number continues to grow. ELL student enrollment has increased significantly in the past three years, from about 3,800 students in the 2011-12 school year to an estimated 5,700 students for the 2014-15 school year. At the same time, we know that ELLs bring a specific set of needs to the classroom that our schools and teachers are expected to meet, and we must increase the level of support provided to these students.

Over the past few years, we have implemented several measures to ensure that ELL students receive highly effective instructional services at each campus, including focused recruitment of ESL and bilingual teachers and paraprofessionals. More recently, we have brought on Karina Castillo as the Executive Director of English Language Learners to spearhead a more comprehensive plan to ensure our ELL students are receiving the best education possible. Other ELL initiatives underway include offering training and professional development to both bilingual and non-bilingual teachers and staff members, using research-based resources to support literacy instruction for ELL students, and continuing to increase accessibility to translation and interpreting services for parents.

We are working on other initiatives to better support our ELL and immigrant students and families, and we are excited to share more with you as plans are finalized. More importantly, we are excited to be serving the students and families who bring such a wonderful diversity to Jefferson Parish Public Schools, and our parish as a whole. We know that for our district to be successful, each and every one of our students must be successful. With the dedication of our teachers and staff, and in partnership with our families and community, we know we will achieve our goal.