Best teachers, principals get ‘super’ surprise

Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper delivered news to a trio of principals and teachers Thursday that left a few of them speechless and shocked at least one into having to take a seat.

Cooper and Assistant Superintendent Sandra Billeaudeau surprised the district’s top principals and teachers by arriving at their schools to personally tell them of their selection as the parish elementary, middle or high school teacher or principal of the year.

“Your teacher is the teacher of the year for Lafayette Parish,” Cooper announced to the classes of Becky Cade of J. Wallace James Elementary; Allison Bloomer, Youngsville Middle School; and Albert G. Marcel Jr., W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center.

A committee of retired district educators selects the district’s teachers of the year, while the district’s current principals select the principals of the year.

Principals of the year are: Dana Schmersahl of J. Wallace James Elementary; Kathy Aloisio, L.J. Alleman Middle School; and Joseph Craig, Comeaux High School.

The district-level winners will represent Lafayette Parish in a regional competition with regional finalists competing for statewide honors.

Bloomer began her teaching career at Youngsville Middle School 12 years ago.

“I’m honored. We all work hard over here. It’s not just me. We’re a team,” she said. “This is a challenging career and to be recognized this way is amazing.”

“You’ve got the best of the best,” Cooper told her sixth-grade science class.

Schmersahl said she was honored to represent the district’s other elementary principals in the regional competition. The veteran educator became principal of J. Wallace James when it opened 11 years ago.

“I feel like every principal should get the recognition, especially today with the legislation coming down on schools. We’re working to make public education better every day,” she said.

Schmersahl reacted more excitedly about the news that one of her own teachers — Becky Cade — is the district’s elementary teacher of the year. Cade has taught at the school for the past two years and has been a teacher for 19.

When Cooper and the small entourage of district officials and local journalists arrived at her classroom to surprise her, her students had gone outside for physical education class.

“Let’s go find them. I want them to be a part of this,” Cade said after learning of her recognition from Cooper.

Cade led the entourage toward the school’s track where her students reacted to her good news by jumping up and down with excitement and hugs for their teacher.

“You guys are so good. You helped me win this,” she said as students continued to give her hugs.

“They are the reason I come here every day,” she said. “They are the reason I work as hard as I do.”

The district’s high school principal of the year is Joseph Craig, who has been the top administrator at Comeaux High for the past nine years.

Craig has been an educator for the past 25 years.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Craig said. “It’s not me. It’s always your assistants, your teachers, the students. It’s really all about the people I work with. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Middle school principal of the year Kathy Aloisio, of L.J. Alleman Middle School, echoed Craig’s sentiments about teamwork. Aloisio has been an educator for the past 34 years and principal at Alleman for the past eight.

“I’m honored,” she said. “It’s wonderful when your peers recognize you. It’s been a group effort. It’s not just me. It’s the whole school.”

Cooper’s final visit of the day was to the Career Center, where Marcel works with a dropout prevention program that helps high school students earn a GED and a skills certificate in a career field that interests them.

“I’m shocked,” said Marcel. “I have to sit. This is a shock. There are a lot more educators in this district who work just as hard as I do and I share this with them.”

Marcel has been a teacher for 26 years and at the Career Center for nine years.

“I enjoy the opportunity to help them and the opportunity to allow them to become what they want to be,” Marcel said.