Southwest Louisiana Education Super-Heroes
8/1/2019 1:00:00 PM

SWLA Education Super-Heroes

Calcasieu Parish employs over 5,000 people, all working toward one goal – to educate our children. And that figure doesn’t include charter and parochial schools! As we begin a new school year this month, we want to celebrate the profession of educators at large. They perform an incredibly vital role in our community and we appreciate them; all of them! This feature is but a small microcosm of the educational excellence our parish has to offer. There are hundreds of teachers and support personnel who are equally worthy of recognition. We wish we could tell all their stories! For now, we highlight these seven. And we hope all the educators, students, and parents have a wonderful school year!

Tiffani Carlin

Brentwood Elementary School 

5th Grade English Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher

Twenty years in the field.

Background: Attended McNeese State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and minoring in communication. Later, returned to McNeese and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching with an elementary concentration. 

Why education? "I love education and am passionate about learning. I love making a difference in a child's life.”

Challenges:  "It's important to keep lessons interesting to hold students' attention, and this is where technology comes into play. Many lessons can be enhanced with technology (computers, iPads) and this keeps students focused and motivated to participate in the lesson.”

Rewards: "One of the most rewarding aspects of education is seeing student growth. This applies to academic growth such as content knowledge, grades, test scores, and it also applies to social/ emotional growth. Some students don't always have a positive outlook toward school and when I see a student begin to like school it's just as rewarding as academic growth achievements. I strive to grow the whole child. We have made so much progress at Brentwood and our students are growing every day. It is an amazing feeling to know I have been a part of this progress.”

Recognitions: 2019 Calcasieu Parish Elementary Teacher of the Year; LEAP State Test growth recognition; M3 Mentor to new teachers.

Education Superpower: Carlin believes that establishing strong student relationships is key to motivating students towards academic success.

Wendy Lannin Wicke

St. Margaret’s Catholic School 

principal for the past six years. 

Prior to that, 28 years as a teacher in Cameron Parish.

Background:  BS and MS degrees in elementary education and a Principalship Certification from McNeese State University. 

Why education? "I entered the field of education for many different reasons, but the one that stands out the most to me is the fact that I knew I wanted to marry and have children of my own one day. What better way to spend time with them than to be a teacher! I would have summers and holidays off. Little did I know that summers would be full of preparation for the next year and weekends would be spent preparing for the next week. There is no real time off in the field of education.”

Challenges:  "Our greatest challenge as a private Catholic school is teaching our students that it is more than okay to be different from the rest of the world. We work to make ourselves and our students the best versions of ourselves by teaching and practicing virtue. We cultivate prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance. We want our students to be proactive, work together for the common good, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, and seek to understand before being understood. We practice taking care of our souls, our bodies and our minds. I don’t think it can get much better than that.”

Rewards:"Being able to serve the families of St. Margaret by providing not only an education filled with academic vigor but also the spiritual guidance that comes with attending a Catholic school. I truly love what I do, but I have to say that the teachers and staff make my job easy.”

Recognitions: "The best recognition any teacher could ever receive is having former students come back to you and tell you how important you were in their life. I cherish all the students I have ever taught and enjoy hearing from them. Being an educator is the best decision I have ever made.”

Education Superpower:  Wicke advocates for what is best for every student that passes through the halls of St. Margaret.

Nicole Abshire Posch

Our Lady Queen of Heaven School 

2nd Grade Teacher 

Twenty years in the field.

Background: McNeese State University, studied elementary education.

Why education? "I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I absolutely adore children. All through high school and college I would babysit every chance I had. I had some pretty amazing teachers at OLQH that inspired me to share my love of learning. They also inspired me to share my love of God. When I graduated from McNeese, I knew exactly where I wanted to teach. OLQH is my home.”

Challenges:  Every child learns at a different level and has a different speed of mastery. This can be a challenge because I want every child engaged as much as possible throughout the day. This means hours of planning which takes time, and time is the challenge! My goal as a Catholic educator is to ensure every child feels loved and accepted. It is to make learning fun and make every child feel successful. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’  Proverbs 22:6.”

Rewards: "Teaching is such a rewarding profession. I get to watch my students learn something new and make connections with the world around them. It is fun to see their little "light bulbs” go on! I am able to encourage, motivate and support those students that have low self-esteem and think they cannot do something. It is amazing when they succeed, and you see the joy in their eyes! I am surrounded by love EVERY day from my students. They always know when to give me that hug or that special little drawing! I am BLESSED to be a teacher and to share a small part in shaping their lives!

Education Superpower: Posch puts her "cape” aside and says her students are the super-heroes. "They continue to teach me about myself each year. They help me to grow and become a better person.”

Willona Jackson

College Oaks Elementary 

School Principal for seven years. 

Twenty two years in the field.

Background:  Earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from McNeese State University.

Why education? I have always wanted to be in the field of education. Growing up, I was one of those kids who played school even in the summertime. As the years went by, my conviction never wavered. I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a teacher, especially when I met my high school English teacher, Ms. Sybil Broussard. The way she captured the attention of every student in the classroom mesmerized me and my fate to becoming a teacher was sealed from that year on.  

Challenges:  "Labels. We tend to put labels on schools without even walking through the front doors. People think they know about your school from simply reading a letter grade label from a website or newspaper article. There are so many great things going on inside our school, not only at College Oaks Elementary, but inside each of our Calcasieu Parish Schools. This is a noble and rewarding profession, but it is also a challenging one. For anyone embarking on a teaching career, know that you may not see the fruits of your labor every day, but when you get those smiles or hugs, or ‘a-ha’ moments from students, it pushes you to keep going and give even more.”

Rewards: "Knowing that with a quality education, a child’s possibilities in life are limitless. Having the opportunity to be part of a child’s educational journey is a privilege and so exciting; to connect with a child in a way that changes that child's life is the ultimate gift for an educator.”

Recognitions: 2019 Calcasieu Parish Elementary School Principal of the Year; College Oaks Elementary Teacher of the Year, 2002-2003; Calcasieu Parish 2nd Runner Up Teacher of the Year; 2004 Reading Teacher of the Year by the Calcasieu Reading Council; 2016 Region V Leader of the Year; 2019 TAP Principal of the Year, R3 Zone Schools.

Education Superpower: Throughout her career in education, Jackson has desired to have an ever-greater impact on the lives of children, which ultimately led to her role as a school principal.

Hope Berry

Bell City High School 

Agricultural Sciences Teacher, Grades 8-12

Nineteen years in the field.

Background: BS degree in Animal Science from McNeese State University; MS degree in Human Resource & Workforce Development from LSU; and a Plus 30 in School Counseling from Northwestern State University.

Why education? "My desire to make a difference in the world of agriculture led me to education.” 

Challenges: "My goal for students, as I think it is for most parents, is that children become productive citizens who are happy in their work and personal life. When we teach our child how to use a spoon or ride a bike, success is measured by the child’s ability to carry out the task without assistance. In education, we call this performance-based assessment. Yet, as an educator, I never receive e-mails from parents about their child’s performance; I receive e-mails about their child’s grade. Education is so much more than a "letter”. Education is taking our most precious gifts, our children, and helping them grow. Grade obsession leads to cheating and constant failure to achieve grades leads to student apathy. Students memorize material in order to make the grade that will keep their parents happy. Parents focus on grades to maintain the top GPA for college admissions and scholarships. It is a vicious cycle that is truly an injustice to our students.”

Rewards:"I have students who would have traditionally been dropouts, but instead go on to welding programs and cabinet making apprenticeships and become successful in their chosen fields. It is by these measures that I personally evaluate my teaching career.” 

Recognitions: 2019 Calcasieu Parish High School Teacher of the Year; Bell City High School Teacher of the Year in 2007, 2014, 2018; 2010 Learn & Serve Grant Recipient, Adopt-A-Park Community Service Event, Hayes Park; 2015 Tractor Supply Co. Grow Grant; 2003 Drew Grant Recipient, Adopt A Yard Community Service Event; NCCER Core Certified Teacher, 2014-Present; and numerous National FFA Chapter awards.

Education Superpower: As a career and technical education teacher, Berry always strives to find her student’s strengths so they will become valuable contributors to society.

Veronica Goodly

Oak Park Elementary 2nd grade teacher. 

Sixteen years in the field.

Background: Attended Acadian Technical College and graduated in Computer Programming. Attended USL for a Nursing Degree. 

Why education? "I realized the hospital setting was not where my heart was. When I would pick up my son from daycare, I would see how he and his little friends were learning new things and how excited they were. So I enrolled at McNeese and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a teaching certificate. I love what I do and thank God that He has guided me to teaching His children.”

Challenges: "Getting students who come to school with challenges that are no fault of their own to be receptive to me and what I am teaching, and to know that I have their best interest at heart. If they don’t know I really care about them, inside and outside of the classroom, it’s hard for them to receive anything I try to teach them. But once they realize they can trust me, and they can depend on me to maybe give them a hug or a heart to heart talk, that’s when they are most receptive.”

Rewards:What I find rewarding about my role as a teacher is seeing students gain a confidence in their abilities to learn new things. They come in at the beginning of the year saying things like, "Reading is hard! I can’t do it!” or "I don’t understand this math!” Then, something clicks with them and the joy in their face when that struggling reader reads a story by themselves, or works out that problem that was confusing to them, giving me a high-five saying, I did it! Empowering a student is very rewarding! That’s what I wait for; that’s what warms my heart. Helping students understand that learning is life-long, beyond high school and preparing them for college is a great feeling.  Encouraging them that they can become anything in life they want to be is very fulfilling. Getting letters from former students, or them coming to me telling me how I helped them, that’s my blessing. Knowing that I have played just a little part in a child’s life is a wonderful feeling.   

Recognitions: 2013-2014 Oak Park Elem. Teacher of the Year; M3 Mentor Teacher; TAP Mentor Teacher.

Education Superpower: Goodly believes that teaching goes beyond the walls of a classroom. "It’s listening to their stories at recess, going to their basketball games, going to see them at gymnastics, or simply giving them a hug, some kind of encouragement, and listening to them. Once they realize you care, you can reach and teach them.” 

Lacey Blocker

Maplewood Middle School 

6th-7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher 

Fifteen years in the field.

Background: Graduated from Northwestern State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, certified in grades 1-8.

Why education? "Both of my parents are educators, so watching their passion and dedication to the profession certainly inspired me to become a teacher! I entered the profession because I love planning creative lessons and seeing students work through challenges and learn new things.”

Challenges: "A few challenges I have faced in education include a lack of parental involvement, lack of funding for educational technology or materials, finding creative teaching methods to motivate students, and always feeling like you need more time to teach the curriculum. Despite the challenges, I have learned from experience that my attitude and personal approach sets the tone for the entire classroom. My excitement about a lesson or activity increases my students' desire to learn. Like many areas of life, challenges are inevitable and unavoidable. However, my actions and attitude have a significant impact on my students' success!” 

Rewards: "It is extremely special to witness making a difference in students' lives and to build positive relationships with students knowing you have inspired them to become a better student or person. I know my work has a great impact on my students and continues to shape them into productive citizens of society.”

Recognitions: National Board Certified Teacher - English Language Arts; 2019 Calcasieu Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year and LA State finalist; Maplewood Middle School Teacher of the Year 2019; Technology Showcase Teacher 2019; CPSB Integrating a Technology Enriched Classroom Model Teacher 2017; Louisiana American Legion Teacher of the Year 2011; Region VI Middle School Teacher of the Year 2010; Vernon Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year 2010; Pickering Elementary School Teacher of the Year 2010;

Education Superpower: Blocker understands she has the power to bring out something unique in each of her students. "There is a quote that states, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’"

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