Natchitoches woman charged with murder after death of her nephew

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Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of a shooting in the 1700 block of Johnson Chute Road, just north of Natchitoches Sept. 29 at 2:47 p.m.
A short time later, deputies responding to the scene intercepted the suspect’s vehicle during a traffic stop near Natchitoches.

Crystal Renee Bremsy, 31, of the 100 block of Kinston Drive was transported to the NPSO Criminal Investigations Division.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they discovered Justin D. Davis, 23, of 1744 Johnson Chute Road, lying on the floor near the front door of the mobile home, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.

Davis was pronounced dead at the scene by the Coroner’s Office. The body was sent for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
According to Chief Investigator Greg Dunn, detectives spent much of Thursday evening processing the crime scene, gathering evidence and interviewing the suspect and witnesses.

Crystal Renee Bremsy, 31, was booked into the Detention Center and charged with one-count of second degree murder.

The suspected weapon used in the homicide was recovered.

Detectives say the homicide was a result of an altercation between Bremsy and her nephew Davis.

Bremsy remains in the DC without bond set.

The case will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for review and prosecution.

Removal of bridge barricades raises concerns for citizen safety

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Parish officials recently learned of the unauthorized removal of barricades previously placed at bridges located on Miller Drive in Payne Subdivision and on Good Hope Road. This has allowed the damaged structures to be crossed by vehicular traffic.

President Nowlin reminds citizens that these bridges are considered to be structurally unsound, and therefore they should not be crossed by vehicular traffic under any circumstance.

Mr. Nowlin also reminds citizens that removing or going around road closure barricades is a violation of State law and, as such, violators will be referred to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office for action.
The two bridges were damaged by the March 8 flash flood event and they remain closed to traffic.

Parish officials are working with the Office of Facility Planning and Control for the use of State Capital Outlay funds for the replacement of the bridge on Miller Drive, with a new drainage structure.

The Parish continues to explore options for the construction of a temporary detour road around the damaged structure on Good Hope Road until it can be replaced under the Federal Off-System Bridge Replacement Program.

Citizens with information on the parties responsible for the unauthorized removal of the road closure barricades at these sites should contact the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office at (318) 352-6432.

For additional information contact the Parish Highway Department at (318) 357-2200.

Responders battle lumber fire near Chopin

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Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Natchitoches Parish Fire Districts #1, 4, 5, 6, and Flatwoods Fire Department along with citizen volunteers arrived on the scene of a large fire in the 1500 block of Emmanuel Road in the Chopin/Cloutierville areas reported at 4:30 p.m Thursday.

Deputies say the fire mostly consists of lumber near a sawmill and woods near the scene.
Smoke cover can be seen as far away as Natchitoches.

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Suspect questioned about shooting fatality

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At 2:47 p.m. today, Sept. 29, Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division deputies responded to a report of a shooting in the 1700 block of Johnson Chute Road. An unidentified male with a gunshot wound the the chest was pronounced dead on the scene. The body was taken to the Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.

Deputies learned that the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle.A short time later, a suspect was taken into custody during a traffic stop on La Hwy. 1. Detectives with the Criminal Investigations Division are interviewing the suspect. Official changes haven’t been made at this time.

Agents with the Multi Jurisdictional Drug Task Force assisted with this investigation.

Nepal school begins rebuilding thanks to efforts of United Methodist Men

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The rebuilding of a school has begun in Janasewa, Nepal in the Everest Region. The school was adopted by The United Methodist Men of First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches after a devastating earthquake occurred last year in Nepal. The school is one of the original Hillary schools and was severely damaged in the earthquake with landslides on either side. The United Methodist Men partnered with the Empower Nepali Girls Organization and the local village to completely rebuild the school building and provide educational resources for the Nepalese children. The United Methodist Men held a Sporting Clay Tournament this past June to raise funds for their efforts.

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Ponderings with Doug – September 30, 2016

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The church office is not in the church building. The church office is behind the soon to open, Donut Hole donut shop. There are advantages and disadvantages to our location. My office is in the back of the building and I have a door to the outside from which I can escape. There are advantages and disadvantages to the location of my office.

As I write this article, the office door is open. I enjoy this time of year. The first hints of fall in the morning are moments that I don’t want to miss. So, rather than standing on the porch I open the door and invite the fall into the office. Now there are other things that will come into the office with the fall, but that is fine, because the cool morning air is worth any flying varmint that wishes to hang out in the office.

There have been interesting conversations at the opened door with people who are looking for something. I am not the counselor, the lawyer or the court building, but I can point people to the proper door to answer their needs. I have actually had people walk up to my open door looking for the preacher. It is nice to be needed.

After a long hot summer, fall is a blessing and a relief. The cool air means that Christmas Festival is coming. I have told you that I am a kid at heart, right? Last night I dreamed about going shopping for Christmas lights. By the way, if any of you have some old C-9 Christmas light strings with the bulbs, I’ll take them off of your hands. This is a special Christmas season because Christmas is on Sunday this year. I am waiting for the signs that the city is decorating for the season. I am also listening to Christmas music while I let the cool fall morning filter into my office through the opened door.

Opening the back door is a way of praying that God will let His grace and love blow into my life through the events of this time of year. These cool mornings remind me that the word for “Spirit” is the word for wind and breath both in Hebrew and in Greek. So the cool breeze is like the refreshing spirit of God.

Let’s get to the point. Is the door of your life open or closed? Many of us grew up in a place and time when we didn’t lock the doors of our homes. Today we lock them, dead bolt them, turn on the motion lights and set the alarm. Our doors keep us protected and them out!

Doors create boundaries in our lives. They give us a sense of control, safety and peace. They mark what is ours. They help us decide who and what we allow in.

There are few people who come to our doors these days. People running for political office still knock on doors. There are a couple of church groups that still knock on doors. People selling alarm and home security systems knock on doors. The FedEx and UPS people knock on your door and then run. A knock on the door is not a good thing. I know my rowdy canine herd goes crazy when the doorbell rings. I am usually not thrilled when someone is at the door. I suppose if I had better mannered dogs, I would have more drop in friends. Most of my friends tell me they are coming to see me before they ring the doorbell. They want me to control the thundering herd of canine cavorters.

When the doorbell rings without prior notice I am usually not thrilled by who is at the door.

So in my world, I preemptively reject the person at the door. The dig-dong of the doorbell for me is like the final buzzer in a basketball game. It is over for the person standing on the porch.

Do you do that too? Preemptively reject someone based on a preconceived response. We all have our lists of folks who don’t belong or don’t fit into our notion of what is polite and right. We all reject people before we know them. I am praying that God would work on me in this area.

What if we preemptively accepted someone? That no matter who they were or what they did we would love them and be gracious to them? How would our lives change? How might their lives change?

I suppose I am bothered by that verse in the Bible about Jesus standing at the door and knocking.

What if the person at the door is Jesus?

Kiwanis Awards Banquet recognizes community members

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Community members were recognized at the annual Kiwanis Award Banquet Thursday, Sept. 29 at the Events Center. Kiwanis members, guests and honorees enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by Lasyone’s before the program was presented by Kiwanis Immediate Past President Haley Taitano.

The program was called to order by Taitano, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Nettles Brown and the Invocation was led by Rodney Boswell. After, Kiwanians recited their Defining Statement: Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time. They also introduced many guests.

“We always like to start with the introduction of guests at our meetings,” said Taitano. “Guests are always welcome.”

Through The Eliminate Project, Kiwanis International and UNICEF have joined forces to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetnus. This deadly disease steals the lives of nearly 49,000 innocent babies and a significant number of women each year. Kiwanis of Natchitoches has raised over $12,000 this year and a total of $70,000 in the last three years. The club has a goal of $100,000 and has three years left to reach it.

“Can you imagine bringing home a baby and having it die two weeks later from a terrible disease,” said Dr. Jeems Whites. “There is a baby lost every 11 minutes, which means many babies have been lost while we were here.”

Whites then called Tony and Rhonda Hernandez to the front and presented them with a Zellar Medallion, lapel pin and certificate. Tony lovingly placed the medallion on his wife Rhonda’s shoulders.

“I made a donation to the Walter Zeller Foundation in honor of my wife,” said Tony. “We made this donation to save babies from suffering. You don’t have to be a member to donate to this cause.”

The following community members were presented with awards:

Captain Harmon Winters presented City Police Sargent Jessica Williams with the Lawman of the Year Award.

Amanda Fournier presented State Trooper Mary Neal with a Lawman of the Year Award. Neal works for Troop E.

Kenny Kaufman presented Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Officer Chad Nelson with a Lawman of the Year Award.

Kenny Penrod presented Joshua Isbell with the Firefighter of the Year Award.

Natchitoches Jr. High-Frankie Ray Jackson Principal Edwin Mason presented Addoree Stuckey with the Teacher of the Year Award.

Taitano presented Heather Martin with the Kiwanis Presidents Award.
Dion Boyett received the Kiwanian of the Year Award.

Judge Greg Beard, Kiwanis District Governor (2011-2012), installed new members Sandra Foster, Gretchen Duazat, and adopted the Natchitoches Parish Journal as a Corporate Member.

“Leadership is the key to making our club strong,” said Beard. “The main thing is being involved and engaged. You will only get out of Kiwanis what you put into Kiwanis.”

New Club Directors for the 2016-17 year include: Greg Dunn, John Cunningham, Mike Fox, Carey Etheredge, Dr. Lauren Moreno, Lee Waskom and Annette Sterling-Roque.

Club Officers include LaCarsha Babers (President), Dion Boyett (President-Elect), Rodney Boswell (First Vice-President over Membership), Reba Phelps (Second Vice President over Programs), Haley Taitano (Immediate Past President), Richard Rose (Secretery) and Nettles Brown (Treasurer).

Janice Bolton and Johnny W. Cox, Jr. support the car show

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A BIG THANK YOU to Janice Bolton with Bolton Realty and Johnny Cox, Jr. with Merci Beaucoup for their support of the 10th Annual Natchitoches Classic Car Show.

Events set for Friday, Sept. 30:
•Car Registration: 12-7 p.m. at Prather Coliseum on NSU’s campus (Register online at natchitochescarshow.com)
•Poker Run: 12-5 p.m. – $1,000 TOTAL PAYOUT
•Fish Fry: 5:30-8 p.m. on the Riverbank

Events set for Saturday, Oct. 1:
•Car Registration continuing from 7a.m. – 12 p.m. at Prather Coliseum
•Car Show will kick off at 7 a.m.
•Live entertainment from three stages throughout the day
•Visit local shops, restaurants and museum on Front Street
•Awards will be given out at 4 p.m.

We hope to see you there!

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Magnolia Plantation Complex featured as a must see haunted place in Louisiana 

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Magnolia Plantation was listed as #12 by the Blog for Lifestyle & Travel on its list of 17 Haunted Places in Louisiana You Need to See for Yourself. To read the full list go online to Lifestyle & Travel.

The Magnolia Plantation Complex in Derry carries a lot of history and apparently spirits too. In 2009, the cast of Ghost Adventures investigated the property, which is rumored to host a barrage of ghosts that were once slaves on the property. Evidence of voodoo has been found on the property and ritualistic chanting has been heard coming from one of the former slave cabins. Although the mansion at Magnolia Plantation is privately owned and closed to the public, the rest of the complex is open for self-guided tours and includes a plantation store, a former slave hospital, eight cabins, a gin barn and a blacksmith shop.
The BLT is an established blog out of Springfield, Mo. with over 100,000 readers.

Police assure parents no violence has occurred at area high school

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The Natchitoches Police Department has received several calls of concern from parents and citizens about acts or threats of violence occurring at Natchitoches Central High School.

The NPD ensures parents and citizens there are no current threats or acts of violence occurring at the school.

The Natchitoches Police Department is aware of recent national events involving acts of violence occurring at several schools and can understand the public’s desire to be informed of threats that have been made. The department takes the safety of the Natchitoches Central High School students and staff seriously.

There are two full-time School Resource Officers at NCHS on a daily basis. They are also present for any after school activities, special events and activities including games and dances. These officers serve as the front line should any threats or activity occur. They have direct contact with the NPD and can call for immediate assistance if needed.
To report any suspicious activity or to request information call (318) 352-8101.

NSU, LSU-S sign joint admissions agreement with BPCC

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Northwestern State University and Louisiana State University-Shreveport signed a joint admissions agreement with Bossier Parish Community College that will allow BPCC students to affiliate with one of the two 4-year universities.  The agreement creates a seamless transition for students who intend to pursue a bachelor’s degree after earning their associate degree, provides an academic advisor from both the university and the community college and allows the students to participate in student life activities at their chosen university.

Administrators say the agreement will allow students to make the best use of their time and resources in transitioning from a 2-year to a 4-year school.

“This is first and foremost about the students,” said NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson.  “This agreement demonstrates another way we are eliminating barriers for our student for a better quality of life and a better economy for Louisiana.  Our agreement provides a practical, affordable option for traditional and non-traditional students and builds upon the partnerships already established between BPCC and Northwestern State.”

BPCC Chancellor Dr. Rick Bateman said the agreement demonstrates the schools’ willingness to put students first.

“This is a commitment we made early on:  Students first.  No excuses,” Bateman said. “These agreements focus on what is best for students.”

The agreement will expand student options for college services, improve academic program articulation and facilitate planning and alignment of instructional programs.

“This brings three higher education systems together to show what we can do to affect students,” Bateman said. “These are two outstanding universities where the majority of our students go and we are introducing them to the university culture.”

BPCC and Northwestern State already have several agreements in place to help students achieve their educational goals while meeting workforce needs and promoting economic development in Louisiana.

For more information on admissions at Northwestern State, visit nsula.edu.

Joint Admissions Signing: 
LSU-S Chancellor Dr. Larry Clark, BPCC Chancellor Dr. Rick Bateman and NSU President Dr. Jim Henderson.

Natchitoches escapee captured by U.S. Marshals

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An escaped Natchitoches Parish Detention Center inmate was captured over 2,000 miles away, according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones Jr.

Natchitoches Parish Asst. Chief of Corrections Roger Henson said Willie E. Ethridge, 34, who escaped Aug. 27, was captured in Portland, Ore. by members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit.

Ethridge was serving time until 2037 for attempted second degree murder and two-counts of armed robbery.

U.S. Marshals will transport Ethridge back to an undisclosed Louisiana correctional facility at a later date.

Additional charges of simple escape, etc. are pending.

Asst. Chief Henson said escapees Michael Elliot and Walshea Mitchell remain at-large although agencies are following up on leads and tips in an effort to capture these individuals.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Michael Elliot or Walshea Mitchell can contact the NPSO at 318-352-6432, 911, or a local law enforcement agency. A reward is being offered for specific information leading to the capture of the escapees.

NPD arrests multiple suspects in residential burglaries

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The Natchitoches Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division began investigating a series of residential burglaries Sept. 21. The burglaries occurred in the areas of Whitfield Drive, Henry Avenue and Stephens Avenue during daytime hours while residents were away from their homes.

A concerned citizen reported suspicious persons in the area of the burglaries, which led officers and detectives to the suspected burglars. A brief foot pursuit ensued in which two suspects were captured.  Additional information led to the apprehension and arrest of a third suspect.

Arrested were:
D’Mario Moran, 25, 401 Rowena St., booked on four counts of Simple Burglary.  Moran was transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

Shanice Kelly, 22, 727 Brahma Dr., booked on one count of Simple Burglary.  Kelly was transported to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

Juvenile male, 16, Natchitoches, booked on two counts of Simple Burglary.  The juvenile was later released to the custody of his mother.

Anyone with additional information about these residential burglaries should contact the Natchitoches Police Department at (318) 352-8101 or Detective William Connell at (318) 238-3911.  All calls shall be kept confidential.

More arrests are forthcoming.

Couple happy to work out of the spotlight on NSU’s theatre faculty

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Tucked away in a corner office in the bowels of the A.A. Fredericks Fine Arts Center, Robert and Karn Richoux aren’t in the spotlight.

And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

The married couple, who are each starting their first semester in the Northwestern State University theatre department this fall, specialize in technical theatre, which includes building sets, props, scene painting, stage management as well as costumes, lighting and sound.

Robert, a 2007 NSU graduate who aims to bring his experience working with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and at the ZACH Theatre in Austin, Texas, said coming back to Natchitoches has been eye-opening.

Karn, an assistant professor of theatre technology who doubles as the technical director for the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, taught high school theatre for the past three years.

The pair met at Florida State while pursuing master’s degrees and married on Leap Day in 2011.

Although the Richouxs aren’t together every waking hour because of differing class schedules and project builds, Robert said he doesn’t get tired of being around his wife of five years.

“She’s my best friend, and we get along really well,” Robert said. “We have enough respect for one another, and we know that each other knows what they’re doing and respects each other’s choices.

“We know our strengths and weaknesses. We get along so well that we don’t mind being around each other most of the time.”

A diplomatic answer with his wife sitting beside him, but Karn shared the real reason behind their success.

“We make fun of each other all the time. Laughing is the key,” Karn said.

The Richouxs are still shaping their roles as they assist technical director Phillip Kidd and lighting designer/facilities director Paul Pharris among others.

Robert, who specializes in set building, said he hopes to incorporate more projection designs and automated scenery.

He aspired to be an athletic trainer before falling into theatre by chance.

Karn, a Minnesota native, recalls being involved in her sister’s plays as a child.

The Richouxs stress that theatre isn’t just for students who want to pursue a professional theatre career.

The department is working on its first production of the season, “Young Frankenstein,” running Oct. 12-16 in the A. A. Fredericks Auditorium.

To see a full calendar of the season’s productions, visit https://theatre.nsula.edu/calendar/.

11 Years Later, How has Natchitoches Changed? Or has it?

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It’s hard for me to believe, but quite soon it will be 11 years since Mary and I retired to Natchitoches from the New Orleans area.

We had escaped all but minor damage from Hurricane Katrina, with no flooding at all, but everyone at that time was saying how the fierce storms were going to be more frequent and more powerful. So, I didn’t want to be an old man worried every summer and early fall about having my house blown away by Hurricane Whoever. Thank God there have been no major storms in our area since then, but hey, it could happen again next year. Who knows?

So, having been acquainted with Natchitoches in previous visits, and having fallen in love with its charm and history, I posed the question to my spouse on one of our visits after Katrina, “Don’t you think this would be a good place to retire?”

And the rest is history. History from the last 11 years, at any rate.

In some ways the town has changed very little in the last decade, and in some ways that’s very good. It retains its unique beauty, its history going back to colonial days and some very cool museums as well as some good places to eat.

Some of the changes in the last 11 years are also for the better. We have a new form of parish government, having gone from the old Police Jury to a Parish Council and president, and I think that’s also very good. I think some old time residents need to understand that government under the new parish charter can be made to be much more efficient than the old Police Jury system and that different outlooks are sometimes needed.

For many years I covered the Jefferson Parish Council and president and believe me, the system can work and work well. Not that Jefferson didn’t have its share of problems, but a modern system of government is needed for these modern times. Jefferson is much larger and more urban than Natchitoches Parish, but the principle of efficient government still holds.

I think we have some good elected officials, who are dedicated to improvements, but they must be given time.

Commercial change is also inevitable and a couple of my favorite little neighborhood restaurants that flourished a decade ago are no longer around. But new eateries have opened up and Mary and I still enjoy going out to lunch and dinner a lot.
One of the most notable additions to our town is the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. I must admit, I’m still not quite used to its architecture, but it’s a great place to visit if you love sports and/or history. The staff is working hard to put on interesting programs and new foundation CEO Ronnie Rantz has some neat ideas he wants to run with.

Too many people around the state are not aware of this special attraction and Ronnie wants to change that.

What can I say about Fort St. Jean Baptiste, the exact replica of the early 18th century French fort here. I love that place and it’s a true time machine and a real asset to Natchitoches.

I do miss the Old Courthouse Museum, but the great old late Victorian structure is still open to members of the public who want to research their ancestry at the Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association library. Check them out, the very helpful volunteers are ready to assist you.

We still have our frequent festivals and, of course, Christmas. The Christmas Festival keeps the economic wheels of Natchitoches turning. Some business owners on Front Street are concerned about the flat economy and lagging sales, but a couple of projects to increase tourism are in the works and may be able to turn that around.

NSU, naturally, is the main year-round economic mainstay for Natchitoches. Even with all of the cutbacks in the state higher education budget, campus officials are doing their best to offer the best education that their money will allow.

So, we’re glad to be part of this very traditional yet still changing little city. I can’t say I don’t miss the New Orleans area, but Natchitoches, which outsiders will never learn to pronounce on the first try, is a pretty neat place to hang our hats.

Students compete at Beebe Martin Memorial FFA Competition

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Ten teams of students from FFA clubs competed in a 3-hour Beebe Martin Memorial FFA Competition Sept. 28 at the Natchitoches Parish Fairgrounds.The students are from Natchitoches Central High School, Lakeview High School, Ebarb High School and Dodson High School. They represented Natchitoches, Sabine and Winn Parishes. Wood for the competition was donated by a local wood company and a local supply company  donated a 5-gallon bucket of supplies to each school.  Students built porch swings from a set of plans provided and four area contractors judged their work. The students were judged on the following criteria:

workspace cleanliness
safety
teamwork
quality of finished product
following plans

While each team has a woodworking shop at their school, the competition gives them an opportunity to work under pressure with a time limit and quality requirements. LSU AgCenter Assistant Extension Agent Randall Mallette helped organize the event and the Natchitoches Parish Fair Board provided the students with lunch.

Campti educator receives Teaching Excellence Award

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Crystal Pierce, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Fairview Alpha Elementary School in Campti was recently named one of 43 public school educators who received the California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence – one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for public educators.

The educators will be honored at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in
Education Gala in Washington, DC Feb. 10.

The California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence are unique: in addition to being
recognized for excellence in instructional and professional practice, awardees are
nominated by their peers – their National Education Association state affiliate – for their
dedication to the profession, community engagement, professional development,
attention to diversity, and advocacy for fellow educators.

Pierce says she is dedicated to finding the “aha” moment with her students.

“I can show my students pictures or videos, but when I actually bring the experience to them:

Aha! They get it! So when it comes time for the lesson on jungles, for example, my
classroom becomes a jungle, complete with vines, waterfalls and wildlife,” Pierce
said.

Because the NEA Foundation values both professional development and diversity,
awardees are invited to participate in its Global Learning Fellowship. Fellows learn how
to prepare their students for a connected and multicultural world in this comprehensive,
year-long professional development program, which includes an international field study
next June.

“These outstanding educators are innovators, challengers, and global thinkers,” said
Harriet Sanford, NEA Foundation President and CEO. “We are delighted that California
Casualty joins us once again in expressing our shared admiration and thanks for their
work.”

“The California Casualty awardees are the architects of our nation’s future,” said Beau
Brown, California Casualty CEO. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to honor them with
the California Casualty Awards for Teaching Excellence.” The Louisiana Association of Educators nominated Pierce for the honor. Her school received an award of $650.

Goldonna Elementary announces Students of the Week

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Students of the Week at Goldonna Elementary for the week of Sept. 16 are Case Sampey, Sara Barron, Jadyn Nelson, Bryce Norris, Breanna Hines, Hannah Milner and Dylan Fulton. Students of the Week for the week of Sept. 27 are Andrew Johnson, Kellci Ross, Ethan Smith, Anthony Gionnone, Nathaniel Garner, Colie Kilingworth and Elizabeth Hightower.