Return to Headlines

August Jefferson Journal Superintendent's Message

JP Schools Family,

While these last two years have been some of the toughest years in education, through it all, Jefferson Parish Schools has always kept students as our focus. We were among the first large, urban districts to reopen for in-person instruction in August 2020. We launched our Mission to Mastery program that focuses on tutoring and enrichment opportunities provided to students after school, on Saturdays, in the summer, and during holiday breaks. We created an Early Literacy Strategic Plan that set an intentional district-wide focus for ensuring our K-3 students are reading on grade level. We utilized pandemic relief funds to fund high-leverage initiatives that keep our students safe and provide students with opportunities to make up for any lost learning. 

Because of this student-centered focus, I am proud to say we are making progress. Our efforts are leading to improved outcomes for students two years in a row. Despite the pandemic and Hurricane Ida, Jefferson Parish Schools was one of 19 school systems that showed the most LEAP proficiency growth in Louisiana for the 2021-2022 school year. We were one of only 15 districts in the state that grew three percentage points. We were also one of only 20 school systems in the state to show growth on their 2020-2021 district performance score. In a year disrupted by the pandemic, where declines were the expectation across the nation, and when there was a 1.8% decline statewide, JP Schools improved on our district performance score from a 71.5 to a 71.6. 

In addition to our students growing, we have other notable accomplishments within the district. We have the #1 rated high school in the state of Louisiana and #37 in the country - Patrick F. Taylor Academy. Five of our schools were recognized as top 2022 LEAP performing schools in Louisiana. We have two National Blue Ribbon schools - Gretna #2 Academy and Airline Park Academy. We have a Louisiana state Principal of the Year finalist, Ira Wilson. We have 30 National Merit finalists.

Everyone has played a role in these achievements - our students, teachers, support staff, administrators, families, School Board, and community members. While we still have work to do, I am hopeful about the school year ahead. I know that Jefferson Parish Schools can be the number one urban district in Louisiana and the country. We have a strong foundation and solid practices in place. We have incredible students and the most dedicated employees. We have the support of our families, School Board, and community. 

The positive impact that a strong school system has on a community is undeniable. Property values rise, families and businesses stay, the workforce is developed, and our streets are safer. In Jefferson Parish Schools, our responsibility is to provide a quality education and keep our students safe.

As we enter this new school year, we will stay laser focused on advancing children academically, socially, and emotionally. With your help, we will keep doing what’s right by kids. With them as our overall focus and with your continued support, we will continue to see great things happen for our students, schools, district, and parish. 

Dr. James Gray