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OPSB teachers Callender and Valentine among top teachers for state awards

Posted Date: 03/19/2024

OPSB teachers Callender and Valentine among top teachers for state awards

Ouachita Parish School System is proud to announce two of our teachers are up for top awards for the state of Louisiana.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the names of its semifinalists for Louisiana Teacher of the Year and its finalists for New Teacher of the Year. Jennifer Callender from George Welch Elementary is one of 24 teachers to be named a semifinalist for Teacher of the Year and Samantha Valentine from Woodlawn Elementary is one of just 9 teachers statewide to be named a finalist for New Teacher of the Year.

“It is an honor to celebrate the significance of the education professional and those who choose to serve the next generation,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “These remarkable teachers and leaders are making a profound impact on the lives of students and the future of Louisiana.”

Mrs. Callender is in her 11th year as a teacher and sixth year in her current position as a fourth grade teacher in ELA/Reading and Science.

“One of my main strengths – and to me the most important aspect of being a teacher – is the connection I make with my stuents,” Callender wrote in her Teacher of the Year submission. “I take the necessary time to get to know each of my students. I also enjoy attending my students’ activities outside of school. I cannot successfully teach my students if I do not know them personally and what makes them tick.”

Callender and the other 23 semifinalists will learn if they have been chosen as one of the 9 finalists during the Teacher Leader Conference at the end of May.

All finalists and semifinalists for each award will be honored at the 18 Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala in July.

Mrs. Valentine is one of 9 finalists already chosen for the New Teacher of the Year. The third grade teacher at Woodlawn Elementary graduated last May with her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Louisiana Tech University.

Being a teacher is about making small differences in a student’s life that will help shape them into the person they will become when they leave the classroom,” Valentine wrote in her New Teacher of the Year application. “I decided to become an educator, not because of the paycheck number or the feeling I have after teaching an amazing lesson, but because of the impact I could make in just one student’s life.”

The New Teacher of the Year program through the Louisiana Department of Education is in its third year and recognizes and celebrates some of the state’s most exceptional new educators. These candidates reflect excellence and expertise in the field, guiding students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve success.