Head of the class: Rotary recognizes top educators

Published 5:08 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Bogalusa Rotary Club honored seven local educators Tuesday, as the club held its annual “Teacher of the Year” recognition during its weekly meeting.

The schools represented were Ben’s Ford Christian School, Northshore Charter School, Denhamtown Preschool, Byrd Avenue Elementary School, Central Elementary School and Bogalusa High School (a middle school teacher and a high school teacher). In most cases, the winning educators were chosen based on a vote of their co-workers.

“I think this is one of the greatest things that Rotary gets to do each year,” said club member George Bateman. “We sure appreciate your great service.”

The honored teachers were Marsha Thibodeaux from Ben’s Ford, Gwendolyn Pigott from Northshore Charter, Danyelle Crain at Denhamtown, Sharronda Greely Smith at Byrd Avenue, Rochelle Galloway at Central Elementary, and Mark Curry and Matthew Strahan at Bogalusa High School.

An administrator from each school introduced the top teacher, and explained what made their service so special to the students’ success.

“Her students really love her,” Ben’s Ford elementary school principal Maureen Gaddy said, of Thibodeaux. “They call her from college.”

Referring to Pigott, Northshore Charter School director Dee Dee McCullough said, “I need about 50 of her.”

Several of the teachers spoke after being honored, expressing their humility for the honors.

Pigott said that she has never given up on any of her students, noting that she was a stutterer and had to take speech therapy when she was a child.

“Don’t ever give up on a child,” she said. “I am very grateful and humbled to have this opportunity.”

Denhamtown school coordinator Barbara Greely pointed out that Crain had been a very successful and loving special education teacher for many years, before recently becoming a teacher of full classes.

“She’s the best special ed teacher that I’ve ever had,” Greely said. “I hated to lose her there, but now she’s taking that same success with six students (in a special ed class) and bringing it to 20.”

Byrd Avenue principal Melissa Moses said that Smith is soft spoken, but demands and gets respect.

“She has the respect of the students and the respect of their parents,” Moses said. “They know that she really cares.”

Toni Breaux, superintendent for the Bogalusa City Schools, said that all of the system’s awarded teachers also have that respect of their peers, parents and students.

“If you want respect, you have to give respect,” Breaux said. “It is wonderful that the club has people who are thinking about our teachers. Sometimes, they are the last ones that people think about.”

Strahan said that he hoped to not only be a great teacher, but also pass on that love of learning to his students.

“Maybe one day one of my students will be standing up here before this same club,” he said.