District Names Teachers of the Year; 2 Have Now Won Regional Awards, as Well
- May 1, 2009
It’s a distinction only three of a total of more than 3,600 teachers this year hold, and the brightest, most creative and most resourceful teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System were recognized yesterday, April 30, for their ability to think outside the box and reach the unreachable.
At the district 2010 Teacher of the Year reception, sponsored in part by Neighbors Federal Credit Union, Debra Reynolds of Westdale Heights Academic Magnet Elementary School, Dana Morrison of Sherwood Middle Academic School and Kimberlyn Denson of Tara High School were named the school district’s 2010 Teachers of the Year – one for each level. Other district Teacher of the Year finalists were: Elementary – Marcia Le Compte, Belfair Elementary, and Beth Risinger, Riveroaks Elementary; Middle – Raquel Brown, Woodlawn Middle, and Carolyn Cavalier, Park Forest Middle; and High – Yvette Hyde, Belaire High, and Shawona Ross, Scotlandville High.
Incredibly, before they even knew they won the district award, Morrison and Denson had already been named 2010 Regional Teachers of the Year winners, as officials found out just prior to the district awards ceremony. Now they will participate as finalists in the 2010 Louisiana Teacher of the Year Awards Program, co-sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The annual event is designed to recognize and honor outstanding elementary, middle, and high school teachers from each local school system throughout the state. The state winners will be decided in July.
Representing the school district and the region, Densen is a ninth-grade World Geography teacher at Tara High School who has 13 years teaching experience – 10 of which was in her present position. A graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU), she also taught Free Enterprise Honors and was a Junior Varsity and Varsity cheerleading coach and adviser previously at Tara High School. Before that, she taught American History at Scotlandville Middle School and even earlier World Geography and American History at Glen Oaks High School.
Densen is a member of the National Council for the Social Studies and its Louisiana Chapter, Volunteers in Public Schools, the Louisiana Geographic Education Alliance, Louisiana Council for Economic Education and other organizations. She was Tara High School’s 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year, a recipient of the Louisiana 9th Grade Redesign Initiative Grant and the winner of the district’s 1997 Sallie Mae Award for Outstanding First Year Teacher.
Her mother was a local teacher retiring from the district after 35 years of service, so Densen followed in her footsteps. “I grew up observing my mom, who was completely dedicated to her students,” she said. “Teaching middle school her entire career, she would stay up all hours of the evening grading papers, typing tests or just preparing for the next day. … Somewhere along the line, this passion for my mother’s career rubbed off on me. Through her, I learned that teaching was one of the hardest jobs a person could undertake, but I also learned that it could be the most rewarding.”
Also representing the district and the region, Morrison is a sixth-grade Social Studies teacher at Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School; a job she has had for three years. In total, she has been teaching for 19 years. Currently working on her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction/Social Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education/Social Studies from LSU and participated in undergraduate studies at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL.
Morrison also has taught Elective Appreciation of the Arts and Louisiana History at Sherwood Middle School, having previously taught history courses at Southeast Middle School. A member of Phi Delta Kappa International and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, she coached the girls’ school volleyball team to three consecutive parish championships, was chosen for the state teacher education program (LaLEAD) 2006-20007, was a finalist for district Teacher of the Year 2004-2005 and has National Board Certification in Early Adolescence/Social Studies History.
“My greatest accomplishment in education thus far is receiving my National Board Certification in 2004,” Morrison said. “Going through the process taught me so many things about who I was as a teacher, my expectations for my students and the willingness to openly and honestly look at what were taking place in my classroom with my students. I learned that being a good teacher was not just about the lessons that I created, but also about creating an atmosphere of learning where students feel safe to share and be part of the learning process … . Their homes were not perfect, and they were not always ready to learn. I spent time learning how they learned and made sure that I included them all in one way or another. … For the first time, I thought, ‘Am I choosing learning experiences that will have an impact on my students? Will what I teach them today increase their achievement in the classroom across the curriculum? Will what they learn be a skill they can use as lifelong learners?”
The district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year, Reynolds has taught fourth-grade Math at Westdale Heights Academic Elementary Magnet School for four years. She has a total of 25 years experience in the classroom. She also has taught at Forest Heights Elementary Magnet School locally, as well as at schools in other parts of Louisiana and in Texas.
Reynolds holds National Board Teacher Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist and earned Education Specialist and Certification for Teaching of Academically Gifted from LSU. She holds a master’s degree in Education, Elementary Education, Supervisor of Student Teaching from Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education Grades 1-8 from the same university. Her memberships include the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Louisiana Association of Teachers of Mathematics, the Baton Rouge Area Council of Teachers of Mathematics and other organizations. In 2008, Reynolds was a state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and was nominated for the Louisiana Association of Teacher Educators’ Distinguished Clinician Award in Elementary Education.
Because her mother was a first-grade teacher for 43 years, Reynolds looked up to her and what she accomplished. “I believe that one of my greatest contributions to education as an educator is my ability to foster a love of learning in my students through meaningful experiences that relate mathematical concepts to the real world,” she said. “I do my best to prepare my students with the knowledge and experiences that they need to be successful students and life-long learners.”
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
Subscribe to the EBRPSS eNews to receive our bi-weekly eNewsletter.