La. superintendent addresses ‘teacher leader’ event

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- North DeSoto Middle School 8th-Grader Hunter Bates, right, mentions State Superintendent of Schools John White, sitting, as Bates speaks at the first session of the Louisiana Department of Education's Teacher Leaders conference Thursday.
Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- North DeSoto Middle School 8th-Grader Hunter Bates, right, mentions State Superintendent of Schools John White, sitting, as Bates speaks at the first session of the Louisiana Department of Education's Teacher Leaders conference Thursday.

There are no manuals or PowerPoint presentations on how to teach the new common core curriculum public schools across the state will implement in the upcoming school year, Louisiana Schools Superintendent John White told a crowd of about 2,000 educators Thursday.

Rather, he said, the state’s focus needs to move from top-down decision-making to teacher empowerment.

“It’s not going to be PowerPoints anymore,” White said in remarks to educators at the Cajundome Convention Center. “It has to be teachers coming together to collaborate.”

White spoke Thursday during a “teacher leader” event designed to train 2,000 educators — teachers and school- and district-level administrators representative of every public school in the state. The teacher leaders will be responsible for training colleagues how to implement the common core curriculum and how to use available resources that White described as a “teacher support toolbox.”

The state is shifting to more rigorous, national classroom standards known as the common core curriculum. The common core is an attempt to get all states to adopt the same, rigorous standards, beginning with English and math.

Educators Nicole Marshall and Lacey Hogstrom said teachers will likely be more receptive of the changes if the training comes from other classroom teachers.

“People don’t know what to expect,” said Marshall, a third-grade teacher at Forest Heights Academy of Excellence in Baton Rouge. “We can offer them insight and share information.”

“Teachers are sometimes scared about change,” said Hogstrom, a teacher at Denham Springs Freshman High. “It helps that it’s coming from other teachers.”

White spoke during the event’s opening session as was joined by special guests that included eighth-graders Mika Cooper of West Feliciana Middle School and Hunter Bates of North DeSoto Middle School and LSU Baseball Coach Paul Mainieri.

The two students shared the impact teachers had on their attitudes about learning and encouraged their academic and personal interests, with Bates commenting to the crowd that students recognize and admire teachers who are passionate for educating their students..

The students’ eloquent speeches about teachers’ influence in their own lives “restores your belief and hope in what our future will be,” Mainieri, a son of two teachers, told the crowd.