New Bogalusa superintendent achieves lifelong dream

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2023

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Byron Hurst has known that he wanted to be an educator since he was in middle school.

One day at recess, Charlie Taylor, the then-principal of St. Helena Middle School was monitoring the students. What Hurst noticed, however, was that he was wearing a suit.

“It just kind of sparked my interest,” Hurst said.

From then on, Hurst always had the intention of being an administrator of some sort. As of last month, Hurst became the one wearing the suit when the Bogalusa City School District named him as the Superintendent of Schools.

Hurst went to college to pursue his dream, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in secondary education from Southern University in Baton Rouge. 

After receiving his degree, he started his career in education as a substitute teacher, and later teacher and principal at St. Helena Central High School, his alma mater.

“When I started teaching, I went back to my seventh grade mindset of wanting to be an administrator,” Hurst said. “I never had any intentions of staying in the classroom for 15, 20 years.”

Hurst worked as a teacher and principal in St. Helena for roughly 10 years until he found a change of scenery in Tangipahoa.

“I saw an opportunity to grow so I went to Tangipahoa Parish,” Hurst said. “I went from being a principal to an assistant principal, which was kind of backwards, but I went to a much larger school, Ponchatoula High, as an assistant.”

Hurst worked in Tangipahoa Parish for several years, where he was promoted to the Central Office and eventually became assistant superintendent. Hurst also taught as an adjunct professor at Southeastern Louisiana University and Concordia University, and received his Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Southeastern in 2013.

While working in Tangipahoa during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurst saw an opportunity to go to the state level, landing a job as the deputy assistant superintendent of the Louisiana Department of Education.

“I went to the state, worked there for a year and a half and learned a lot,” Hurst said. “I think that really put the icing on the cake to prepare me to be a superintendent.

“Now I’m here,” Hurst said. “The position came open. The timing was right.”

Hurst knew Bogalusa was the right place for him because of its small school system, although he had the qualifications to work in a bigger one.

“I’m a small town boy,” Hurst said. “When I saw Bogalusa was open, I said this is a great opportunity for me.”

As for his plans for the Bogalusa school system, Hurst is working hard to get the lay of the land, observing the processes and procedures that were in place before him.

“What I’m doing now is listening,” Hurst said. “I’m learning, building those relationships in the community. I’m observing things that are going on.”

Hurst plans to build a collective effort with administrators, teachers, students and community members to include them in his decision making.

“I like to see people shine and give them the tools and resources they need to do that,” Hurst said. “Bogalusa has a lot of great talent and it hasn’t, in my opinion, been tapped the right way.”

One thing Hurst knows he wants to focus on is the safety, culture and climate of Bogalusa’s schools.

“Every decision that I make moving forward is going to be in the best interest of this district, of these students and this community,” Hurst said.

Hurst’s experience and continuous pursuit of education have paved the way for the beginning of his career in Bogalusa, and he plans to use that experience for the betterment of its schools.

The 2023-2024 school year begins on Aug. 2.

“I want the school system to be a positive light on the community,” Hurst said. “We want to be amongst the best in the state, and we have the tools to do that here. We just have to sharpen those tools and put them to use.”