Louisiana Dream Teachers

Louisiana State Teacher of the Year

Carla Jackson
Louisiana Teacher of the Year, 2015

Carla Z. Jackson has been a third grade teacher for over twenty years and is described by her colleagues as a teacher whose passion for education still blazes as strong as ever. She is an English Language Arts teacher at Bains Elementary School in West Feliciana Parish.

A reflective and data-driven teacher, Carla has surpassed the goal she set for herself and her children, with ninety percent of her students scoring proficient in ELA! She prides herself as one who continues to push students for their best, not only in the classroom, but in their everyday lives.

She is devoted to her school, serving on multiple committees, and continually strives to elevate her classroom performance and to support the other teachers committed to excellence for Louisiana’s children.

Grade Level Teachers of the Year

Anita Szombathelyi
2015 Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year
10th Grade Geometry
Airline High School
Bossier Parish
Justin Burkhardt
2015 Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year
8th Grade Social Studies
Andrew Jackson Middle School
St. Bernard Parish
Tammy Schales
2015 Louisiana Elementary School Teacher of the Year
4th Grade English Language Arts
Ruston Elementary
Lincoln Parish

Louisiana State Principal of the Year

Denise Rhem
Louisiana Principal of the Year, 2015

Denise Rhem stepped into the classroom as a first grade teacher in 1997. Over the years she has developed an educational philosophy of “the school is a family” and the family must focus on the education of the whole child. She has created a school culture that is supportive and one that strives for excellence every day.

With the help of the teachers at Joshua Butler Elementary School in Jefferson Parish, students set their academic goals and monitor their own progress towards these goals. This kind of leadership, support, and belief in the “family” allowed the school to increase its performance score by 18 points, moving the school from a letter grade of “D” to “B!”

Grade Level Principals of the Year

Ken Oertling
2015 Louisiana High School Principal of the Year
Hahnville High School
St. Charles Parish
Patrick Mackin
2015 Louisiana Middle School Principal of the Year
Slidell Jr. High School
St. Tammany Parish
Marjorie Meyers
2015 Louisiana Elementary School Principal of the Year
Pecan Grove Elementary
Ascension Parish

Teacher and Principal of the Year

Louisiana’s Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year programs are created by Louisiana Statute, implemented by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and administered by the Louisiana Department of Education.

The following is an overview of the 2016 process for selection. All questions regarding applications, qualifications, or results, should be directed to the Louisiana Department of Education.


Teacher and Principal of the Year Selection Process

The Louisiana Department of Education recognizes that great teachers and school leaders are critical to student success. Annually, the LDOE, in partnership with Dream Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Principals, honors the state’s most exceptional educators through the Teacher and Principal of the Year programs.

The Louisiana Teacher and Principal of the Year awards program is an annual event designed to recognize and honor outstanding teachers and leaders from local school systems throughout the state. The program provides an opportunity to focus public attention on those educators who are ensuring that students make academic progress that leads to college or a career.


Teachers and Principals of the Year are selected based on their success with students and, for principals, their work to support teachers. This rubric is used throughout the selection process.

General Application Teacher of the Year & Principal of the Year Application Applications Due:
5:00 PM CT on Thursday, January 8, 2015
  • Districts/LEAs select up to three overall Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists, one per division (elementary, middle and high), to move on to the state competition.
  • District coordinators will email their overall Teacher and Principal of the Year applications and the district nominations tracker to excellenteducators@la.gov by 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 8, 2015.
Semi-Final Classroom observation or school visit Announced:
February 2015
March – April 2015
  • LDOE identifies 36 semi-finalists (18 teachers and 18 principals) and notifies them in February.
  • State observation team conducts observations of semi-finalists in March and April.
  • LDOE selects the top 18 Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists (9 teachers and 9 principals) and notifies them in May.
Final In-Person Interview Interviews:
June 2015
  • State selection committees (composed of community and education leaders) interview the 18 finalists and select the division winners and state Teacher and Principal of the Year overall and division winners.
Recognition Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium Symposium:
July 2015
  • Honorees recognized and celebrated and division and state winners named.

For more information and answers to your questions about the Teacher of the Year or Principal of the Year programs, please email: excellenteducators@la.gov.

Louisiana Dream Teachers
9335 Interline Ave. | Baton Rouge, LA 70809 | Phone: 225.923.0294 | Fax: 225.923.1650
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