Superintendent's Teacher Council
The Superintendent’s Teacher Council is designed to capture teachers’ insights, suggestions and perspectives on critical issues in Jefferson Parish Schools. The council will work to inform the Superintendent and district with qualitative and quantitative data that will enable us to make better instructional and administrative decisions. These decisions will ultimately assist us in becoming the most improved district in the state.
Teachers must have an Effective Emerging or better evaluation to be considered for membership. Following an application process, all eligible teachers will enter a lottery process to select the 20 council membership participants in each organizational level: 10 elementary, 5 middle school, and 5 high school teachers.
Past Superintendent's Teacher Councils
2021-22 Teacher Council
2021-2022 Teacher Council Members
- Gaynell Adams, West Jefferson High
- Ruth Brewington, T.H. Harris Middle
- Kristen Burke , Boudreaux Elementary
- Janae' Camardelle, multiple schools
- Shelly Cochran, Chateau Estates School
- Yvette Cresson, Green Park Elementary
- Benjamin-David Legrand, Clancy/Maggiore Elementary
- Ravin Edwards, Riverdale High
- Kelley Henry, Schneckenburger Elementary
- Noah Jacobs, Meisler Middle
- Jamie McCloud, Greenlawn Terrace Elementary
- Meagan Phillips, Pittman Elementary
- Erica Rosher, Higgins High
- Mitchell Rothermel, Strehle Community
- Diana Sittig, Alexander Elementary
- Johnita Smith , Livaudais Middle
- Tommacenia Sumlin, Estelle School
- Leah Weaver, Haynes Academy
- Matthew Williams, Haynes Academ
- Sheree Yerby, Solis Elementary
2021-2022 Teacher Council Meeting Dates
Teacher discussions and input are highly valued and member attendance at all council meetings is encouraged. Due to Hurricane Ida, the council will meet three times this school year (instead of four) from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at alternating sites. All meeting attendees will adhere to the health and safety protocols outlined in our Start Strong Jefferson plan.
- December 15, 2021 at the JP Schools Administration Building located at 501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey
- February 9, 2022 at the JP Schools Administration Building located at 501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey
April 4, 2022 at the Paul Emenes Building located at 822 S. Clearview Pkwy. in Harahan
April 4: The final Superintendent’s Teacher Council meeting began with Laura Roussel, Chief Academic Officer, welcoming the teachers to their last council meeting and sharing how proud she was of all that the group accomplished. Roussel explained that the focus of the final meeting would be on the significance of culture within a school, how teachers are the foundation of their school’s culture, and how teachers can lead by influence. “Human capital in education is more valuable than anything we can buy,” said Roussel. “Human capital is critical. Leaders have just as much impact on students as teachers.”
Following her remarks, Roussel further explained that any teacher can be a leader and influence the culture within a school. Roussel then introduced the program “Operation Lead” and explained that the program would consist of a six-week curriculum designed to encourage leaders to understand the context behind what they do. Following the program introduction, the teachers were tasked to turn to the person next to them and discuss what attributes of school leadership they believe are critical for teachers to have an impact on student achievement. Answers provided were:
- Positive atmosphere
- Open communication
- Solution-oriented opportunities
- School-wide behavior expectations for students
- Understanding challenges
- Failure is OK as we try new things.
- Lead, learn, or mentor
- Visibility for support
- Community engagement
- A learner’s attitude
Following the group activity, Superintendent Dr. James Gray addressed the council members by applauding the teachers for their everyday work. Gray also spoke in-depth about how much influence a teacher has on a student’s life, and the importance of promoting the profession as the rewarding work that it is. “What do we need to do to protect our own profession and mental health, while also still investing in our students?” asked Dr. Gray. Following his remarks, Gray took a few questions from teachers before answering rapid fire questions presented by each of the council members. A few of the questions were:
- Can you provide a timeline of when the district will receive approval for in-house teacher certification?
- How would that look for someone who is already in the certification program?
- Will there be an opportunity to train some of the teachers for add-on certifications?
- What are we doing to address the shortage of special education teachers?
- Since the recent vote on the calendar, is there any progress on stopping at the same time at the end of the school year?
- Is there a possibility of providing reduced or free after-school care for employees' children?
- Is there anything you can say about the Spanish-speaking social worker shortage?
- Are school start times changing for the 2022-23 school year?
February 9: The Superintendent's Teacher Council was led by Laura Roussel, Chief Academic Officer.. The meeting began with an ice breaker bingo to help participants get to know one another better.
The group then took a deep dive into Student Learning Targets (SLT), since it had been a concern brought up by the council at a previous meeting. Roussel emphasized the importance of understanding the purpose or intent of SLT’s, rather than focusing on the notion that SLT’s are overwhelming due to policies and accountability. She further explained three big ideas that help to keep the purpose of SLTs at the forefront:
- Teaching implies learning.
- Student learning is at the forefront .
- Equity and Equality - Every student should have access to rigorous goals for learning.
The council group was then tasked to think about what messages could be beneficial for teachers to hear so that the purpose of SLT’s can be better understood and more widely accepted. The council members were separated into groups of two, where they were instructed to communicate what would be helpful for a teacher to hear about SLT’s given the newfound perspective and purpose regarding Student Learning Targets. Examples of these messages were shared with Roussel separately amongst each individual group. Roussel asked the council to serve on a special committee to review SLT guidance.
Following the exercise, the teachers were greeted by Dr. Gray when he emphasized the importance of their participation in this council. “More than anything, this is an opportunity for me to hear from you and about what concerns you are facing,” said Dr. Gray. He then touched on mental and social awareness issues and assured the council members that the district has plans underway to combat those concerns amongst teachers.
The meeting concluded with an opportunity to suggest changes and raise concerns to Dr. Gray. The topics mentioned included:
- Lack of clarity with SLT’s; not knowing the “why”
- Overly generalized SLT guidance
- The return of field trips
- Opportunities for more professional development
- Better communication to be kept abreast on what changes are being made
- Social and Emotional support from staff shortages
December 15: The Superintendent’s Teacher Council began with an icebreaker led by Laura Roussel, Chief Academic Officer, where teachers were asked to introduce themselves, state what school they teach, and share a fun fact about themselves.
Following the icebreaker exercise, the Superintendent's Teacher Council was greeted by Superintendent Dr. James Gray, where he shared his personal story. Dr. Gray explained that it was his teachers rather than his parents who encouraged him to further his education by planting the seed that he could attend college for free through a basketball scholarship. Dr. Gray said, “It was my teachers that nurtured me and made sure that I fared well. Even my first dress jacket came from my high school basketball coach.” Dr. Gray also shared that attending college at Grambling University put him on the right path, which was ultimately a stepping stone to a promising career.
After hearing Dr. Gray’s story, the teachers brainstormed a list of topics that the council could spend time discussing at the following meetings. One teacher made a poignant remark that seemed to resonate with both Dr. Gray and other teachers in the room, noting “For our students, I think that it's important that we vision cast for them so that they can both visualize and internalize their goals.” Both Ms. Roussel and Dr. Gray noted how remarkable they found the phrase “vision cast,” and expressed their appreciation for this insight, further mentioning that this idea was heavily noted.
The Superintendent’s Teacher Council concluded with what is referred to as a “ rapid fire,” a session in which teachers share their primary concerns. Below are the topics shared:
- ELL support
- SPED support and inclusion model
- School culture
- Utilizing paraprofessionals more effectively
- Teacher shortage
- Building joy back into the school day
- Transition to the new Social Studies standards
- Utilizing technology to best support teaching and learning
- Adjusting the Academic Calendar
- Supporting programs like hotel and coding certifications in Spanish
- More communication about the importance of library and an allocated budget for libraries
- Transparent and open dialogue with principals to understand perspectives
2020-21 Teacher Council
2020-21 Teacher Council Members
- Stephanie Durant, Chateau Estates Elementary
- Chiquita Jones, Marrero Middle
- Brittany Orr, Patrick Taylor Academy
- Tara Reese, Truman Elementary
- Joshua Russell, Thomas Jefferson Academy
- Rosalyn Spencer, Gretna Middle
- Karl Williams, East Jefferson High
- Raynetta Frazier, Cuillier Career Center
- Moya McNaulty, T.H. Harris Middle
- Esther Perez-Zemmels, Tom Benson Elementary
- Miriam Rosa-Gomez, J.C. Ellis Elementary
- Kimberly Rutherford, Paul J. Solis Elementary
- My-Hue Tran, B.A. St. Ville Elementary
- Emma Wilson, Adams Middle
- Lyndsey Jackson, Ellender Elementary
- Vivian Valdez-Miller, Grace King High
- Emily Poche, Riviere Elementary
- Gavin Rudolph, Young Audiences Charter Schoo
- Watiki Sauerwin, Mildred Harris Elementary
- Christopher Trubiani, Greenlawn Terrace Elementary
- Jennifer Wilson, John Ehret High
2020-21 Teacher Council Recap
April 14: At the fourth and final meeting of the Superintendent’s Teacher’s Council meeting, Gabrielle Misfeldt, Chief of Staff, opened the meeting with an icebreaker discussing things our educators gained personally and professionally during the pandemic that they plan to continue. Some of our teachers touted becoming experts at tutorial videos and using online learning apps, while others talked about small ways to connect and engage their students on a daily basis. While this year has been challenging, each and everyone of us has gained something, taken up a new hobby or habit and grown in a positive way. It’s important we recognize those skills that will help us transition from this pandemic stronger than before.
The primary focus of the meeting was to preview and garner feedback on our summer learning programs. Laura Roussel, Chief Academic Officer, presented on the Jefferson Summer Learning Program and how it will provide students with additional opportunities for accelerated learning and enrichment during the summer months. She emphasized that it will be accelerated learning to focus on upcoming skills and create a strong bridge to the upcoming year as opposed to remediation, which covers content from the previous year. The 2021 summer program will be expanded in duration, attendance and content to address learning loss resulting from pandemic learning. Goals for the program include:
Prepare students for the next school year and accelerate any learning gaps in Math and ELA
Partner with local and national organizations to offer enrichment activities that foster joy and engagement and develop the whole child
Safely interact with peers in-person and build a sense of community
The teachers provided genuine feedback on how to create an inclusive program that accelerates all feedback. Overall, the program was well-received and the group identified several opportunities to make the program attractive and effective for both students and educators.
Superintendent Dr. James Gray closed out the meeting with his appreciation for the Teacher’s Council. “We completely support you, and we will do everything in our power to help you be successful,” said Dr. Gray. During his first year as Superintendent, these councils have provided an opportunity for the community to get to know him and the work we’re doing at the district level while, in turn, providing a forum for two-dialogue to shape our work.
February 10: At the previous Superintendent’s Teacher Council meeting, we heard that teachers feel pressure from the different district and school mandates. We narrowed in on that topic during the third Superintendent’s Teacher Council meeting. Council members participated in a consensus placement activity to identify the top three mandates placed on teachers.
Germain Gilson, Chief of District Affairs, led a discussion on the creation of the academic calendar. First and foremost, we want to develop a calendar that is student, teacher and family centered. Listed below are some other points taken into consideration when creating the Academic Calendar.
- Reduces the summer learning slide
- Provides frequent breaks, while eliminating mid-week breaks to the extent possible
- Provide opportunities for district professional development
- Adheres to the required 63,720 instructional minutes
- Honors the 183 teacher contract days
The Council members had ideas and suggestions for how the District can enhance teacher professional development days through differentiation, placement and instruction. Following the meeting, the group provided formal feedback on the 2021-22 Academic Calendar to be considered by the calendar committee.
Additionally, Council members brought forth questions and challenges during a Rapid Fire Q&A session led by Superintendent Dr. James Gray and Laura Roussell, Chief Academic Officer. The District will use the feedback provided from the mandate discussion and Rapid Fire session to identify areas where we can alleviate pressure points for teachers while continuing to deliver the best results for students.
December 16: The focus for the second meeting of the Superintendent’s Teacher Council was how we can better support effective instruction of both in-person and virtual learners. To begin the conversation, the group reviewed the critical factors taken into consideration when Virtual Jefferson was developed. Offering a choice of instructional models for families has always been an important tenet of Start Strong Jefferson. Due to the overwhelming registration in Virtual Jefferson at the beginning of the year, adjustments had to be made and instruction needed to be tailored to accommodate both at-home and in-person learners.
The Council brought several suggestions for the administration to take into consideration, some of which are already being implemented. The conversations centered around classroom management, understanding of technology, Google products and student engagement.
Additionally, the Council voiced some concerns and challenges they continue to experience with virtual learning including lack of accountability for virtual learners and challenges with planning when students are frequently switching between virtual and in-person.
Following the discussion on virtual learning, the Council directed rapid fire questions to Superintendent Dr. James Gray dealing with teacher burnout and mental health, district mandates, COVID-19 notification and quarantine protocols, ESL learners and assessments.
The feedback received from these Council meetings is critical to helping to inform and improve our operations as a school district. We appreciate the engagement shown by all of our teachers as we work together to build a more successful school system.
November 10: At the first Superintendent’s Teacher Council meeting of the year on November 10, 2020, members laid the groundwork and set the agenda for future meetings. Following an icebreaker activity, the group established norms for how we will work together to accomplish objectives for the council. These norms included honesty, empathy, listening to understand, and equity among the voices heard. We discussed how creating a safe space where teachers feel comfortable sharing their honest opinions ensures we can accurately capture the issues and move forward in resolving them. While the group is diverse in their positions and opinions on different issues, it is unanimous that everyone in the group wants the best for the students of Jefferson Parish. Each member brings with them a unique experience and perspective to help achieve our common goal.
For some, this was their first time having candid conversations with Dr. Gray in his new role as Superintendent. He gave the group insight into his personal and professional background to help everyone understand his approach to district-level decisions. Dr. Gray emphasized the importance to understanding the why - why he pursued a career in education, why he cares deeply about our teachers and students, and why he will always put our students first. He recognized that these are challenging times and that the situation asks a lot of our educators. However, it’s important that we stay motivated and find our cheerleader. When we approach this difficult work with a positive mindset, it puts us all in a better position to be successful.
Following an open conversation with Dr. Gray, the group outlined the topics they would like to tackle over the next three meetings. We are sharing this list to be transparent with all of our teachers.
- Balancing multiple responsibilities and supporting all students
- Mental health and attention span for students and keeping up pacing and rigor
- Quality of learning for virtual students
- Translating and modifying curriculum for virtual students
- Effectively teaching both in-person and virtual learners
- Options/opportunities for less dual teaching of both in-person and virtual students – do one or the other if possible
- Timeline for some Start Strong protocols to shift (e.g. when teachers can stay in rooms and kids shift)
- Supporting families with technology and virtual learning
- Teachers’ emotional and mental health
- Bridging the divide between schools and district office
- Responding to needs of ELL learners and supporting teachers to better support ELL learners and families
- Intervention structure and curriculum for students
- Differentiating support for students AND teachers
- Ensuring teacher voice into school AND district decisions
- Hours spent on school and district mandates
These Superintendent’s Council meetings provide valuable insights to inform and improve our decisions at the district level.
2019-20 Teacher Council
- Michelle Adkins: Ruppel Academy
- Jessica Chatelain: Ellis Elementary
- Sally-Rose Cragin: Hazel Park/Hilda Knoff Elementary
- Eddie Dorvin: Rudolph Matas School
- Nicholas Felber: Boudreaux Elementary
- Samantha Fotsch: Airline Park Academy
- Amanda Francis: Haynes Academy
- Scarlet Garcia: West Jefferson High
- Charles Greiner: Grace King High
- Tamara Guillory: Terrytown Elementary
- Lyndsey Jackson: Allen Ellender School
- Dimitra Johnson: Strehle Community School
- Keva Jones: Fisher Middle-High
- Claire Kaemmerling: Bridgedale Elementary
- Caitlin Kingsley: Patrick Taylor Academy
- Eileen Perkins: Rudolph Matas School
- Watiki Sauerwin: Harris Elementary
- Jessica Schwalb: Janet Elementary
- Diana Sittig: Alexander Elementary
- Lenhardt Stevens: Livaudais Middle
2018-19 Teacher Council
- Faten Ahman: Johnson/Gretna Park Elementary
- Elaina Bergeron: Grace King High
- Lori Colgan: Riverdale Middle
- Steven Christ: Livaudias Middle
- Deborah Fox: Airline Park Elementary
- Sarah Garon: Estelle Elementary
- Ambrosia Grant: Roosevelt Middle
- Monique Guitterrez: Bissonet Elementary
- Rebeka Haynes: Greenlawn Terrace Elementary
- Tangenia Jones: Solis Elementary
- Stacy Meehan: J.C. Ellis Elementary
- Holly Orgeron: Ellender School
- Brittany Pineda: East Jefferson High
- Tamica Pollard: Truman Middle
- Erika Russo: Grace King High
- Brandi Sauviac: Meisler Middle
- Stephanie Schmidt: Bissonet Elementary
- Diana Sittig: A.C. Alexander Elementary
- Kyle Tate: West Jefferson High
- Cynthia Wooldridge: Haynes Academy