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Monday, July 20, 2015

Schools in Prep

Caddo, Bossier set plans for new year

Caddo and Bossier Parish schools are already gearing up for the 2015-16 school year.

“The summer months are very busy at Bossier schools,” Sonja Bailes, public relations liaison for Bossier Parish Schools, said. “We’ve been creating marketing materials for our school system, designing and printing the district calendar and student handbooks, planning our district-wide initiatives for implementation in the 2015-16 school year and preparing for the ribbon cutting ceremonies.”

D.C. Machen Jr. is superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools and has been an educator for over 40 years. “Educators at all levels – teachers, administrators and supervisors – have been actively involved in professional development opportunities throughout the summer months, designed to better prepare them to be the most highly effective teachers and leaders for our students,” Machen said. “Through these initiatives, educators have been provided the opportunities to enhance their knowledge of research-based strategies that will ensure they are providing the most conducive learning environments for their students in preparation for the upcoming new school year.”

Caddo Parish is also seeing a busy summer time. “The staff is working diligently to place personnel into positions for the school year to assure teacher, principal and other positions are filled and employees are ready to go and greet children on the first day,” Mary Nash Wood, assistant director of communications for Caddo Parish schools, said. “During this time, staff is not only assessing staffing needs but also providing professional development to educators throughout the district to ensure staff is energized and ready to engage in proven training that leads to student success.”

“The summer also marks when the largest amount of our capital projects are completed, from C.E. Byrd’s parking lot to restroom upgrades at several campuses,” Wood said. “Every bus in our fleet also receives front to back services and inspections prior to the new school year beginning.”

Woods and Bailes said there’s a lot to look forward to in this school year for both parishes. “As part of our commitment to find the best teachers and personnel for our students, Caddo also launched this summer a first-of-its-kind endeavor called the Caddo Teacher Academy,” Wood said. “In this program, 12 current district employees, whether substitutes, clerks or other positions, are in the process of becoming certified teachers. It was important to find a group of individuals who truly had the passion for education we needed and also a genuine desire to be a part of Caddo schools.”

Bailes said Bossier will partner with United Way this year.

“I’m excited about Bossier schools partnering with the United Way for a day of service this fall, and engaging the community to take part alongside our students, teachers and administrators,” Bailes said. “We believe strongly in paying it forward while instilling character education in our young people by emphasizing the importance of helping others.”

Machen said he also is excited about the new opportunities this year in Bossier Parish and the constant strive for excellence. “I’m looking forward to continued improvement in student achievement, continued improvement in graduation rates and the expansion of student and school involvement in community service projects and giving back to our community,” Machen said.

Wood said student success will be on the forefront for educators.

“The staff at Caddo schools has a single goal in mind and that is student success,” Wood said. “We seek to ensure each child is armed with the skills they need to be prepared for whatever they choose to do in life, whether that is in college or career. This year, we are fervently working toward that goal with focuses on literacy and numeracy in the early grade levels, as well as pushes for more rigorous instruction through advanced placement and dual enrollment programs.”

Representatives for both Caddo and Bossier schools expressed an optimism for the new year. Bossier Parish ranks second in the state for the most highly qualified teachers and in the upper tier for state assessment scores. “Once you enter the Bossier school district, you become part of our family,” Bailes said.

Caddo Parish is home to 12 National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, numerous National Merit Scholarship winners and to the largest JROTC unit in the nation. They also are among the largest offerings of advanced placement and dual enrollment courses in the state, which allow for students to earn college credit hours while still in high school. “Caddo is such a unique school district,” Woods said. “This is a Caddo of hope and perseverance. This is a Caddo of promise and this is a Caddo I am proud to call a district focused on creating a better tomorrow.”

–Betsy St. Amant


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