Education System leaders speak at Chamber Luncheon


The Natchitoches Chamber Luncheon held Oct. 4 featured an education panel with prominent leaders in Louisiana’s education system: April Giddens, Kimberly Eckert, Kenneth Champagne, and Hannah Dietsch.

Eckert has taught in West Baton Rouge Parish for nine years. She holds degrees from Northwestern State University. In 2016, she was named as the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (LACUE) Teacher of the Year for high schools. Previously, she won the same award for middle schools, and in 2013, Kimberly was selected as the West Baton Rouge Parish Middle School Teacher of the Year for work as a special education teacher.

Eckert said that every door that’s ever opened for her is thanks to NSU and the Natchitoches community where she received her education. She put her social work and special education degrees to use before becoming a teacher.

“Switching to the classroom is the most powerful thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “Teaching is the most amazing profession ever.”

April Giddens presented a slideshow of her experiences as a Teacher of the Year in 2012. Teaching for 22 years, 19 of which were spent with Natchitoches Parish School Board, Giddens is currently an Assistant Professor of Education at NSU.

Champagne has 30 years financial, accounting and operations experience in public accounting and financial service industries, including insurance and consumer lending. He serves as chairman of Dream Teachers, a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization with its mission to inspire excellence in education, enhance learning outcomes, and recognize and reward Louisiana’s most-effective educators and school leaders.

Dietsch serves as Louisiana’s Assistant Superintendent for Talent, overseeing educator preparation, licensure, and workforce management initiatives.

Chamber Education Panel 2017