History of Thomas Jefferson Academy
for Advanced Studies
In October of 2004, by a vote of 5 to 4, the Jefferson Parish School Board approved the opening of Thomas Jefferson High School, a school for academically advanced students. The school was named in honor of the 3rd President of the United States, the statesman responsible for the Louisiana Purchase and the namesake of Jefferson Parish. It was school board member Mark Morgan’s vision to establish a school that offered innovative teaching techniques and challenging courses to prepare students for a rewarding college education.
The school opened its doors for students in grades 6 through 9 on August 14, 2006 at 815 Huey P. Long Avenue in Gretna. Less than 200 students from all areas of the West Bank of Jefferson Parish attended. Dr. Gerard LeBlanc served as principal of the school for the first two years. Annually, the school dropped and added a grade until the grade configuration of 9-12 was reached. Clubs and athletics were rooted and the school was maturing into a high school.
In August of 2008, Mrs. Debra Cooper led the faculty, staff, and students in grades 8-11 as classes were held in what was presumed to be the permanent Thomas Jefferson High School building.
Public demand for schools of this caliber was so popular that the student population grew beyond expectations. The steady growth in enrollment prompted the Jefferson Parish School Board to purchase the former Archbishop Blenk High School as the future site of Thomas Jefferson High School.
In August of 2009, students and staff of Thomas Jefferson High School moved to its current location at 17 Gretna Boulevard in Gretna under the leadership of Dr. Christine D. Templet and Mrs. Sharon Meggs-Hamilton. The student population increased to 280. Advanced placement courses were added to the curriculum, student athletes competed in varsity events, and senior traditions began.
In 2010, Dr. Gerard LeBlanc returned as Principal of Thomas Jefferson High School from his position in central office. In 2011, student enrollment increased to 416. Also in that year, Mrs. Michelle Burmaster joined the administration as Assistant Principal.
In 2015, Mr. Andrew Vincent became the fifth principal of Thomas Jefferson High School.
In 2017, Thomas Jefferson High School was recognized as a National Title 1 Distinguished School for exceptional student performance. Only two schools in the state are selected each year for this prestigious distinction.
In September of 2019, US Education Secretary Betsy Devos announced that Thomas Jefferson was awarded the prestigious 2019 National Blue Ribbon School award. Thomas Jefferson was among 349 schools awarded nationwide. It is an honor bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education based upon overall academic success or narrowing achievement gaps among disadvantaged students.
In August 2020, Thomas Jefferson opened our doors as Thomas Jefferson Academy for Advanced Studies as we added 6th, 7th, and 8th to our enrollment. It was an incredible year of trial and error as we dealt with the restrictions from COVID-19. Our faculty and students navigated virtual learning while balancing hybrid schedules.
In June 2021, Mrs. Shawn Rome became the Acting Principal of Thomas Jefferson Academy for Advanced Studies.
In July 2022, Mrs. Debbie Dantin became the Principal of Thomas Jefferson Academy for Advanced Studies.