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NEW PRINCIPAL SPOTLIGHT: Jenea Freeman, Drew Elementary

Posted Date: 04/30/2024

NEW PRINCIPAL SPOTLIGHT: Jenea Freeman, Drew Elementary

If there is one word to describe new Drew principal Jenea Freeman, it’s consistency.

She is the same person every day, to the point that she found it difficult to park one space over from her usual assistant principal’s parking space to the principal’s parking space once her new title became effective on April 22.

Freeman takes over for Ms. Sharyl Boudreau, a mentor she worked under for almost 9 years before Boudreau retired earlier this year. Prior to administration, Freeman spent 14 years in the classroom, all at Drew. Once again – consistent.

“Drew has been a part of my life for half of my life,” Freeman said. “Aside from my mother and my brother, Drew has been part of my life longer than my children and my husband, so I am loyal 1000% to Drew.

“I live in this community, my children were raised in this community, and so why I’m not overly emotional or things like that, I want them to know Drew is my life. I’m not going to take a principal job at another school, or it was never in my mind to leave the classroom and take an administrator job somewhere else. If it wasn’t at Drew, I wasn’t going anywhere.”

Freeman’s plans actually never included administration when she started at Drew in 2001 as a student teacher. She enjoyed the classroom, spending time in 6th grade, then 3rd grade and her final 10 years as a gifted teacher for second to fifth graders. She was named the Drew and Ouachita Parish Teacher of the Year in 2009 and was also a Louisiana Teacher of the Year semifinalist.

During that time, she earned her Master’s of Science in Curriculum & Instruction and her Masters +30.

“I had no real intentions of seeking leadership or anything,” Freeman said. “It was just to have it because who knows what you’re going to want in 10 years or 20 years.”

Less than 10 years after receiving her Masters +30, Drew’s assistant principal job became open when Boudreau moved into the principal role.

“When Ms. (Barbara) Dykes said she was going to be retiring, I thought this is my home, and I’m not going anywhere, and I have the degree so let me know see what happens,” Freeman said.

At the beginning of her first year as assistant principal, then-Superintendent Dr. Don Coker kicked off the school year with Melanie Massey doing personality tests on the administrators. Each person answered the same set of questions and then received their results, including their top five strengths.

Freeman’s top strength was learner, explaining all of those extra degrees she never thought she would use. Her second strength – you guessed it: consistency. That was followed by analytical, context and responsibility.

“Mine are really boring,” Freeman said with a laugh. “It was such a defining moment for me just to understand people and how we think and how we approach situations or how we react to situations. I’m not a reactive person. I’m going to sit and think about it. I’m not going to be one that overreacts to a situation. I think sometimes that can be viewed as I have no reaction at all, but I’m just thinking about everything that could come after the decision is made.”

It is that same mindset that Freeman plans on taking into her tenure as principal. One of the top lessons she has learned from being under Boudreau for nearly a decade is listening.

“Parents just want someone to listen to them, and you’re there to listen to them, as well as teachers too,” Freeman said. “Whoever is coming to you, it’s because they’re upset, and they just need you to listen to them. You’re not going to make everybody happy, but as long as you’re fair and consistent and you follow the rules for everybody, people can’t really argue with that.”

Considering Freeman’s top strengths, it is safe to say she is going to lay out every detail and check every box before making a decision. As far as the students are concerned, though, Freeman said she wants to be more intentional about not letting the analytical side of her personality take over.

“In elementary, we are responsible for kids’ core memories,” Freeman said. “We want them to learn. We are responsible for their education, but we want them to love learning. We want them to love being here. They’re at school 8 hours a day. At the end of the day, instruction is happening, but if they don’t feel loved, and they don’t feel supported, or they don’t feel safe, then learning is not going to happen.

“So you’ve got to take care of those things first, then the rest follows – with good planning.”


January-April 2024: Interim Principal, Drew Elementary

July 2015-January 2024: Assistant Principal, Drew Elementary

August 2005-June 2015: Gifted Teacher, 2nd-5th Grade, Drew Elementary

August 2002-August 2005: 3rd Grade Teacher, Drew Elementary

August 2001-August 2002: 6th Grade Teacher, Drew Elementary