St. Landry career ed teachers cited for teaching life skills

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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“Her greatest accomplishments rest in the success of her students,” according to her nominating materials. “She works  … to teach students the value of understanding the daily skills necessary for life.” 


Each of the teachers selected for the 2018 Career and Technical Education Educator awards were cited for their teaching skills inside the classroom, but perhaps more importantly for the lessons their students will carry with them well after their formal education is completed.

Winners of this year’s awards were Erica LaFountaine Meche of Sunset Middle School, Gwendolyn Villery of Opelousas High School, and David Reed of Northwest High School.

The awards are presented annually by St. Landry Economic Development “to support education and promote the importance of a skilled workforce in economic development,” according to Brandy Ledet, the economic development specialist who coordinates the award program.

Meche was nominated for her role in introducing students to challenges and opportunities in the “real world,” particularly by creating a banking system for students in which they earn paychecks based on their performance in core academic subjects.

When their pay is received, students deposit their checks at a Journey to Careers Bank supervised by seventh-grade students and use checkbooks provided by MidSouth Bank to buy school supplies, gift cards, and other items at a Journey to Careers General Store created by Meche.

Students “are pumped up” for her classes, according to a letter of support from parent Deidra Zachary. “They are able to have a hands-on learning experience, grand conversations about the world we live in, and the wide variety of job opportunities they can look forward to. … She is an amazing teacher.”

In nominating Villery, Opelousas High assistant principal Nicole Armand called her “one of the best teachers I have encountered in my twelve years as an administrator.”

“Her instruction in the area of financial literacy not only teaches her students what they need to achieve in the financial world, but also [gives] them a sense of accomplishment, ,,, Career and technical education students … learn the basics of financial literacy and so much more, and they are able to understand and use the information on a daily basis for the rest of their lives.”

“Her greatest accomplishments rest in the success of her students,” according to her nominating materials. “She works  … to teach students the value of understanding the daily skills necessary for life.” 

Northwest High assistant principal Markenia Jackson, noted that Reed, who teaches business computer applications, has organized teams to compete against other high schools in an annual technology challenge, and that he has recently received a grant to form two competitive robotics teams at Northwest.

“This will introduce the concepts of engineering and computer science to students who possibly would never get the exposure to these concepts,” according to support materials for Reed’s nomination, which point out that the technology and robotics programs also teach students teamwork and creative thinking.

That teaching goes beyond the classroom, in the view of student Joshua Guillory, who wrote, “[Reed] is dedicated not only to his job as a teacher but is dedicated to every student he meets. He challenges our minds and our creativity in everything we do.”

Recognition of these teachers, and the role of career education generally, is tied to economic developments goal of assuring that in St. Landry Parish “students at every level and of every capacity have the fullest access to the best possible academic, career, and life education,” economic development director Bill Rodier said.

He said that an educated workforce is important in developing the parish economy, “but, aside from the economic factors, providing top-ranked educational opportunities is key to providing a good life for the people of the parish today, and a better life in the future.

“That understanding sets these fine teachers apart, and we are more than pleased to recognize them, and all of our educators who work hard to bring a better life to all of us,” he said.

Three things to know about this story:

  1. Winners of this year’s awards were Erica LaFountaine Meche of Sunset Middle School, Gwendolyn Villery of Opelousas High School, and David Reed of Northwest High School.
  2. The awards are presented annually by St. Landry Economic Development “to support education and promote the importance of a skilled workforce in economic development.”
  3. Recognition of these teachers, and the role of career education generally, is tied to economic developments goal of assuring that in St. Landry Parish “students at every level and of every capacity have the fullest access to the best possible academic, career, and life education.”

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