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    Calling K-12 student artists for The Walls Project’s juried show

    “Education as a Civil Right,” New Schools for Baton Rouge’s Fall 2019 Convening, is proud to partner with The Walls Project in a call for artistic submissions from student-artists interested in participating in the event’s juried art show.

    Students are encouraged to reflect on their interpretation of the theme.

    WHO: K-12 student artists
    WHAT: Artwork expressing the theme of “Education as a Civil Right”
    WHEN: Now through Tuesday, October 29 and online.

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    Bradie James hosts inaugural internship with three scholars

    LSU alumnus Bradie James has collaborated with the LSU Office of Diversity to launch the Tiger Research Group internship program. This summer three students were given the opportunity to be the first James Interns: Justin Evans, a native of New Orleans; Todd Sterling Jr., a native of Baton Rouge; and John Wilson, a native of Lafayette.

    Interns were selected from the Presidents Millennial Scholars Program, or PMSP, and the Black Male Leadership Initiative, or BMLI, and were invited to participate in the summer internship program.
    Exposure to leadership, mentoring, and internships as a way to expand undergraduate co-curricular experiences is a central focus of both PMSP and BMLI. Participants in the programs believe that their co-curricular experiences are what differentiate them from other students upon graduation.

    “Internships play a critical role in helping to determine if the field of study a student is in, is really what he or she wants to do upon graduating,” said Sterling, a PMSP Scholar. “Taking part in the internship program allowed me the opportunity to use what I’ve learned from marketing and sales classes and apply it to real-world scenarios, and also to bring fresh ideas to Bradie’s team. Learning and working with an accomplished man like Bradie shows the kind of work ethic needed to develop and to have success in both life and business. I am very thankful for being able to take part in a trailblazing experience like the Tiger Research Group internship program, and looking forward to graduating this December and maybe working with Mr. James’ company in the future!”

    The four-week paid internship provided the students with real-world work experience that enabled them to practically apply what they are learning in their classes in a work setting. An additional benefit of participating in the program is that the students were personally mentored by James, who shared his entrepreneurial experience and his own understanding of navigating the obstacles and challenges that students sometimes face trying to transition from student to professional.

    “My experience with the internship program was amazing. It’s not often you get to engage in conversation with a man of his caliber, especially as an African American. I was able to gain insight on daily business operations and the purpose and plan behind everything Bradie and his team wanted to achieve. Through that, I was allowed to apply the knowledge I have acquired at LSU to help them achieve their goals. So as my senior year is coming to an end, I can say that after this internship I have gained more confidence and hope in myself to cultivate success whether as an employee or an employer,” said Wilson, a BMLI Fellow.

    The Office of Diversity hopes to develop more programs of this type and is eternally grateful to James for his vision, leadership, and support.

    “Mr. James has always given back to his alma mater and helping students in this fashion is a perfect partnership for LSU, Mr. James, and the national diversity advisory board,” said Vice Provost for Diversity Dereck Rovaris.

    The purpose of the LSU Black Male Leadership Initiative Fellows Program is to help improve retention, graduation, and participation rates for black male students through mentoring, leadership development, and academic support while connecting these students with faculty, staff, and the campus community.

    ONLINE: www.lsu.edu/diversity

    Photo: Bradie James with interns Justin Evans and John Wilson

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    LEH is calling all aspiring young artists, illustrators for scholarship opportunity

    Applications are due November 1 for the Gustave Blache III Art Scholarship, offered by the LEH and the School of Visual Arts in New York City and open to all aspiring artists from Louisiana interested in attending SVA.

    The scholarship helps cover tuition and housing costs associated with pursuing either Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts degrees in Illustration at SVA, one of the nation’s premier art schools. Applications are due November 1.

    Full scholarship and application details can be found on LEH’s website.

    Feature photo of previous scholarship winners Marguerite Michel and Paul Michael Wright

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    Irene Lewis elected Undergraduate President of national agriculture organization

     Southern University student Irene Lewis, a senior agricultural sciences major with a concentration in plant and soil sciences, has been elected the national undergraduate president of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization for the 2019-2020 year.

    MANRRS provides leadership training and networking to positively promote the agricultural sciences and related fields among minorities.

    Lewis, who has been a member of Southern University’s MANRRS Chapter since her freshman year, said she was extremely excited when she learned that she was elected to the post.

    “To be able to give back to MANRRS and represent my university at a higher level was exciting for me,” she said. “Participating in MANRRS has afforded me countless opportunities so it only felt right to continue to serve the organization to the best of my ability,” said Lewis when asked why she decided to run for the national position.

    To qualify, she had to submit an application and an application video before being selected to move forward with an interview. Lewis  was interviewed by the then-President-Elect, Karl Binns. After passing the interview, she was informed that her name would be placed on the ballot.

    As a national officer, Irene represents the agricultural students enrolled in dozens of universities across the nation. This is something she doesn’t take lightly.

    “MANRRS has an enormous student membership,” she said. “These students are young people across the country and are a force, working to develop agriculture, natural resources and related sciences.  It’s important that I use this position to continue to advocate for underrepresented students in agriculture, especially for students at 1890 Institutions and other (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). They are truly our next generation of academic and industry leaders,” said Lewis.

    She said her goal as the Undergraduate National President is to be a supporter of the organization’s fourteen student officers.

    “I don’t think people can truly understand the weight that these positions can hold until they are in one. Balancing your academics, pursuing doctoral degrees (for some of our team), and serving in a national office requires a high level of discipline, collaboration, and accountability,” said Lewis. “My ultimate goal is to help my team be the best they can be,” she said.

    Prior to being elected to her current national position, Irene served as the Region IV Undergraduate Vice President for the 2018-2019 year, representing chapters in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas.

    At Southern University’s local chapter, Irene has served as the Chapter’s Secretary during the 2017-2018 academic year and Historian during the 2018-2019 year.

    “This year I am in a student advisory role as I transition out of the university,” said Lewis whose national involvement in MANRRS evolved from her participation at Southern.

    “I don’t think I would be able to serve in the way that I have if it had not been for participating in MANRRS at my chapter,” said Irene. “I gained countless mentors and a huge support system on campus. From our advisor, Dr. Janana Snowden, to the friends I met through MANRRS at SU, I really have had a tribe in these past two years of national service. Dr. Snowden literally gave me a pep talk minutes before I gave my campaign speech last year, and I am extremely grateful for that.”

    MANRRS is a non-profit organization that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences. It has more than 8,000 student and professional members within six regions and 55 collegiate chapters in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

    Lewis is a native of  Baton Rouge. She is the daughter of Eric and Maura Lewis and a 2016 graduate of Runnels High School.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

    Irene Lewis, a senior Agricultural Sciences major with a concentration in Plant and Soil Sciences at the Southern University, has been elected the national undergraduate president of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences organization. (Photo by D’Andre Lee, SU Ag Center.)

     

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    Mini STEM Camp comes to BRCC, Oct 5

    Baton Rouge Community College is partnering with the United States Naval Academy and Scholars Laboratory for a Mini STEM Camp to be held on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at BRCC’s Magnolia Building on the Mid City campus, 201 Community College Drive.

    College students and middle and high school students in East Baton Rouge Parish and West Baton Rouge Parish students are invited to register for the event at ScholarsLaboratory.com. There are 150 slots and registration is free. Lunch will be provided.

    The mission of the program is to address the urgent national need for more young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. USNA faculty and midshipmen along with Scholars Laboratory personnel will provide STEM and Social Emotional Learning to camp participants. The day will include eight USNA STEM modules: Engineering Design Challenge; Cipher Coding and Decoding Modules; Hanoi Tap Code; Morse Circuits; Ozobot Robot Control; Calculator Robots; Testing Archimedes Principle Testing Hull Integrity, SEL instruction along with a trade show.  Special invited guest for the trade show include the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical Company, Methods Technologies Solutions, Hancock Whitney Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU, among others.

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    Southern’s enrollment climbs above 7,000

    Southern University and A&M College released its fall 2019 preliminary enrollment report giving indication of significant enrollment gains over the last few years at the institution. This year, Southern will host 7,031 students, representing a 5.1 percent increase in enrollment over the 6,693 students enrolled in the fall 2018 semester. Since the fall 2016 semester, when 6,357 students were enrolled, Southern has grown its enrollment by 10.6 percent over that time span.

    “We are certainly delighted that our flagship campus is once again booming with students who are seeking a dynamic higher education experience,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “This is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, administration and staff. They have truly invested their time and knowledge in the academic progression of our students.  We believe that the university is moving in a positive direction and anticipate even greater gains in the near future.”

    The increase can be attributed to aggressive recruitment strategies, retention and intrusive advisement initiatives, and additional wrap-around services for students who may need increased assistance.

    The new enrollment numbers offer even more great news for Belton’s recently released strategic plan for the Baton Rouge campus, “Imagine 20K.” Recently released score card updates compiled by the Office of Strategic Planning, Policy and Institutional Effectiveness show that the Baton Rouge campus met or exceeded 89 percent of its expected outcomes for fall 2018 that included increases in dual enrollment, online enrollment, transfer enrollment, degrees awarded, grants awarded and number of financial gifts donated.

    “Imagine 20K,” the strategic plan to increase Southern’s student population to 20,000 by 2030, can be viewed at www.sus.edu/strategicplan.

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    Southern University System selected as pilot institution for CIA’s White House Initiative

     Initiative focuses on HBCUs Recruitment and Workforce Development Program 

     

    The Southern University System and the Central Intelligence Agency entered into an unprecedented partnership to benefit students and faculty. President-Chancellor Ray Belton, Executive Vice President-Chancellor James Ammons, and representatives from the CIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Sept. 16 that will serve as the foundational framework for the university system’s participation in the CIA’s recruitment and workforce development initiative, which is part of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The Southern University System Board of Supervisors will ratify the agreement at Friday’s board meeting on campus.

    According to the MOU, the CIA chose Southern as the first participant based on the university system’s accredited programs, the graduation rate of its students, and the CIA’s track record of onboarding highly skilled and well-qualified talent.

    “Southern University is honored to have been chosen as the first institution to partner with the CIA for this initiative,” Belton said. “The reputable stature of the CIA alone is an asset to the university, students, and faculty, and we believe that the outcomes will be mutually beneficial for all involved.

    “For nearly 140 years, Southern has been a leader in innovation and scholarship. This opportunity with the CIA adds to our extensive portfolio of public and private partnerships that allow our students and faculty to expand their knowledge and to enhance their technical skills.”

    The MOU allows the CIA to engage in a broad range of classroom workshops, curriculum development, and recruitment activities to foster ongoing relationships with key university staff and personnel on Southern’s five campuses, and will provide for immediate contact with a qualified and diverse applicant pool.

    The Southern University System is comprised of Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport, Southern University Law Center, and Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. The System is the only HBCU system in the nation.

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    Ernest E. Garrett III to Guide Louisiana’s Special School District

    Following a national search, State Superintendent of Education John White announced Ernest E. Garrett III will serve as the new Superintendent of the Louisiana Special School District (SSD), guiding the implementation of the SSD’s new three-year strategic plan and overseeing all operations of its special schools and programs. Garrett will take the helm Sept.3.

    The SSD was established by the Louisiana State Legislature to provide education to students housed in state or privatized facilities and hospitals. The SSD oversees Louisiana’s two special schools: the Louisiana School for the Deaf and the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. It also manages educational programs for eligible students enrolled in the Office of Youth Development, Office of Behavioral Health, Office of Developmental Disabilities, Department of Public Safety, and Corrections, and privatized facilities across the state.

    “Ernest is a strong leader and passionate advocate whose extensive experience, as a school administrator, as an advocate of students with low-incidence disabilities and as a social worker in both the school and clinical settings, will bring a unique perspective to the SSD and to the state education department’s executive team,” White said. “We look forward to watching the SSD redefine itself as a statewide model of excellence under his guidance.”

    Garrett, a native of Missouri, is the former executive director and chief executive officer of Deaf Empowerment Awareness Foundation, Inc., an organization designed to empower, raise awareness, and bridge a sustainable foundation of communication and equal access to both the deaf and hard of hearing and the hearing communities in the St. Louis metro area.

    Garrett previously served as the first deaf and first African-American superintendent of the Missouri School for the Deaf. In that role, he championed the idea of  “education without limits” and was instrumental in leading the school through a change management process that resulted in a new mission, vision, motto, and strategic plan that drew unanimous approval from the school’s advisory board. Garrett has also acted as the executive director of the Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and worked as a licensed social worker in both school and clinical settings.

    Garrett holds bachelor’s degrees in history and in professional and technical writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and master’s degrees in social work and administration from Gallaudet University, a federally chartered private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing.

    He also holds an advanced research qualification in management, specializing in leadership and organizational change, from Walden University, the same institution at which he is currently a doctoral candidate in the final stages of his dissertation, which examines hiring and retaining persons with disabilities for leadership positions. His anticipated completion date is December 2019.

    “I am delighted at this opportunity to return to my first passion, which is the education of students with disabilities, and do not take lightly my selection for this role at such a critical time in the SSD’s history,” Garrett said. “The education of children with disabilities is an issue that resonates with me both personally and professionally. I believe that all children can learn and that it is our responsibility as leaders, educators, policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders to ensure that students with disabilities receive the best quality education and are thus prepared for college and the workforce upon graduation. Settling for anything less than high expectations for all students–regardless of disability–is not an option.”

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    Grambling State awards more than $300,000 in technology scholarships

    Grambling State University announced it has awarded tuition and fee scholarships to 10 incoming freshman majoring technology-related degree programs as a part of its Technology Tour Scholarship program.

    “This scholarship is one of the many ways we are working to make higher education attainable for the next generation of cybersecurity and computer science leaders,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “We look forward to supporting the success of these students who made the great decision to choose Grambling State.”

    This year’s Technology Tour Scholarship recipients are all incoming incoming freshmen who have at least a 3.0 GPA and 21 ACT score. The students, who have declared majors in cybersecurity, computer science, computer information systems, or engineering technology, will receive four years of tuition and fee scholarships which are funded in part by contributions from Louisiana Economic Development and AT&T.

    This year’s recipients include:

    • Stephon Hardim, Computer Engineering major from Winnsboro, Louisiana
    • Cazembe Zubari, Cybersecurity major from Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Jyron Bell, Computer Science major from Arcadia, Louisiana
    • Arlon McCrea, Construction Engineering major from Jennings, Louisiana
    • Damaine Thomas, Computer Science/Law major from New Orleans, Louisiana
    • Anthony Bell, Mechanical Engineering major from Walker, Louisiana
    • Mikayla Jackson, Cybersecurity major from Monroe, Louisiana
    • Destney Johnson, Cybersecurity major from Atlanta, Georgia
    • Ralynn Rand, Computer Engineering major from Little Rock, Arkansas
    • Tenaj Reliford, Cybersecurity major from Shreveport, Louisiana

    Alumni and supporters who are interested in sponsoring or supporting scholarship funds are encouraged to email advancementservices@gram.edu or donate at gram.edu/giving.

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    BR high schoolers get aviation experience, attend national conference

    The Baton Rouge Youth Aviation Experience took 20 area high school Juniors and Seniors to Los Angeles to participate in the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) Aviation Conference, August 23- 25.

    Baton Rouge Metro Airport Commission Chairman Cleve Dunn Jr. created the initiative, which is designed to educate students about career opportunities in the aviation industry. Dunn raised the money to pay for all 20 students to attend the conference, which included transportation, lodging and meals.

    The students participated in AMAC’s Project LIFT program, which was held at LAX Airports Flight Path Museum. The forum-style mentoring session is held for students interested in aviation and aviation-related businesses. Project LIFT exposes students to career opportunities in the aviation industry and the applicable education paths, and provides networking opportunities with professional mentors to further students’ academic development. In addition to an in-depth view of the aviation industry, the students made connections with industry leaders and were provided information about scholarship and internship opportunities.

    DSC06838_edit

    The participating students came from Capitol High School, Scotlandville Magnet High School, Lee Magnet High School, Madison Prep, Woodlawn High School, Mentorship Academy, Collegiate Baton Rouge, and McKinley High School. Chase Bank, Helix Schools, Baton Rouge Metro Airport, New Schools Baton Rouge, Airport Management Group, MetroMorphosis, Runner’s Courier Service, and Dunn Enterprises helped to sponsor the initiative.

    The Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) and the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) presented AMAC’s 35th Annual Airport Business Diversity Conference: Transforming the Future of Airports, bringing together nearly 1,000 businesses, aviation professionals, government officials and individuals from around the country to discuss a variety of subjects ranging from how to do business at airports to public policy issues impacting the entire aviation industry. This conference is the premier aviation industry event of the year – serving as a hub for education, advocacy and networking opportunities that promote diversity and inclusion in airports.

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    SU graduates 14 farmers from Ag Leadership Institute

    SU Ag Center holds Graduation Ceremony for 7th Small Farmer Ag Leadership Institute

    Fourteen small farmers from seven states received certificates of completion during a graduation ceremony for Cohort VII of the SU Ag Center’s Regional Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute.

    The ceremony was held on Friday, August 16 in the Cotillion Ballroom of Southern University’s Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union.

    Fourteen participants from Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas and Ohio graduated from the year-long course.

    Dawn Mellion Patin, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach at the SU Ag Center, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. During her presentation, Patin discussed how the leadership institute was developed and encouraged the graduates to help other small farmers.

    “We expect you to share what you have learned in conversations with aspiring small farmers,” said Patin. “We expect you to host field days, workshops, and pasture walks so others can see what you are doing,” she said.

    The Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute is designed to guides small, limited-resource and minority farmers through the process of becoming more competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.

    The overriding goal of the Institute is to promote small and family farm sustainability through enhanced business management skills, leadership development and the utilization of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services.

    The Cohort VII regional graduates of the Regional Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Institute are:
    Anthony Barwick, Ohio; Kay Bell, Texas; Keisha Cameron, Ga.; Mark Chandler, Va.; Debora Coleman, Miss.; Felton DeRouen, II, La.; Hilery “Tony” Gobert, Ga.; Royce Martin, Ala.; Lennora Pierrot, Ala.; Gregory Smith, La.; Brad Spencer, Miss.; Joy Womack, La.; Virgil Womack, La.; and Oliver Whitehead, Va.

    ONLINE: http://www.suagcenter.com/page/small-farmers.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk

     

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    State responds to cyber attack on school system

    Stephenson Technologies Corporation at LSU offers tips on how individuals can protect themselves from future cyber-attacks

    This week, several Louisiana school systems were victims of the most pervasive ransomware attacks in the state’s history. Digital thieves successfully injected malware in several parish networks, making north Louisiana one of several areas in the country that have also fallen victim to cyber-attacks.

    Ransomware is malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. It’s typically spread through phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website. Once infested, the thieves hold the user’s data hostage until a ransom is paid, usually in digital currency like BitCoin.

    “Ransomware is not new,” said Jeff Moulton, Stephenson National Center for Security Research executive director. “It’s growing in use at the state and local levels because the attackers know government agencies, especially at the lower levels, are likely to pay.”

    Moulton also said that hackers know that local government agencies including school districts often do not have the systems in place to protect against cyber-attacks. Hackers also may target these agencies because shutting down or interrupting services is unacceptable.

    Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and activated Louisiana’s Emergency Support Function 17, which is a cyber-incident response plan. LSU’s Moulton oversees the ESF-17 subcommittee.

    LSU’s applied research affiliate, the Stephenson Technologies Corporation, or STC, is working with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, or GOHSEP, the Office of Technology Services and the Louisiana National Guard Cyber Team on this criminal event. Three LSU STC information systems security engineers are on site in the affected parishes assisting with the recovery efforts.

    “Thanks to Gov. Edwards’ foresight into cybersecurity vulnerabilities, he created the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission to respond quickly and effectively to attacks like these,” Moulton said.

    He offers the following tips on how individuals and institutions can protect themselves from future cyber-attacks:

    • School districts throughout Louisiana must educate their workforce to stop, think and click before opening any email. If it doesn’t look right, don’t open it.
    • Implement a two-factor authentication system.
    • Have a manual back-up system.
    • Parents and guardians should give out as little personal information on their children as possible.
    • Parents and guardians should write a letter to the three credit agencies to lock and freeze their children’s credit so predators cannot access their children’s social security numbers.
    • Encrypt your data at rest.
    • Stop. Think. Click.

    ONLINE: https://www.sncsrt.lsu.edu

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    SU Child Development Center set to hold an Enrollment Fair

    The Southern University Child Development Laboratory will hold an Enrollment Fair for the 2019-2020 school year on Saturday, August 3 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at its facility located on E. Street on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    Parents interested in enrolling their children at the laboratory can do so during the enrollment fair by bringing the child’s birth certificate; social security and insurance cards; and updated immunization, physical (well-child exam), and dental records (if applicable).

    Applications will be available to be picked up from the Laboratory on July 29.

    The Laboratory, which will open August 12, is accepting children six weeks to 4 years old. It will operate from 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. with before and aftercare available from 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. for an additional fee.

    To obtain an application or for additional information, call 225-771-2081 or email suchdvlab@subr.edu.

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    Grambling State launches new dining program with Magic Johnson’s Sodexo Magic

    Grambling State University announced the launch of a long-term partnership with a new dining service provider SodexoMAGIC. The new agreement will deliver $6.7 million in facility renovations, new major-brand quick-serve restaurants, and 24-hour dining.

    “The best part of our new program is that we, as students, are driving the design,” said Steven Wilson, rising senior and President of the University’s Student Government Association. “I’m grateful to President Gallot and the entire administration for how they’ve helped turn our comments, emails, and surveys into an experience that supports all of our students.”
    Grambling State Partners with SodexoMAGIC

    The University’s partnership comes as a result of a collaborative RFP process where students, faculty and staff weighed in on proposals from America’s leading dining service providers. The winning finalist, SodexoMAGIC, is well known for its chairman, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and its service to universities and corporate clients that include Delta Airlines, the Walt Disney Company, the Federal Reserve Bank, and Toyota.

    “This agreement is a great example of what is possible when Universities put our students first,” said Rick Gallot, President of Grambling State. “We are fortunate to collaborate with a partner, like SodexoMAGIC who understands the holistic needs of our students.”

    The partnership will include a two-year overhaul of campus dining facilities and the launch of new program features that include:

    • New menus overseen by Chef G. Garvin, nationally acclaimed TV host, author, and NAACP Image Award winner
    • A New mobile app feature for ordering takeout and made-to-order items
    • Allergen-friendly meal programs to support vegetarians and other specialized dietary needs.

    The deal connects SodexoMAGIC and the University for a five-year partnership that will yield a $51 million return on investment and includes a five-year option to renew.

    “We are proud to partner with the Grambling State community and excited about investing in the students,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson, NBA hall of famer and chairman of SodexoMAGIC. “My team is committed to providing excellent service that the Grambling students, staff, and community deserve so they can continue leading efforts to change the world in sports, technology, and in business.”

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    Teens earn Emergency Medical Responder Certification

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation presented the 2019 graduating class of the College & Career Ready Emergency Medical Responder  Institute. The graduates, all Baton Rouge area high school students, obtained Emergency Medical Responder certification upon their successful completion of the 10-week EMR Institute.
    UREC’s 2019 College & Career Ready EMR Institute graduates are:
    • Adrianna Brown (Valedictorian)
    • Bridget Calhoun
    • Alexus Maiden
    • Leah Ruffin
    • Abria Scott
    • Aisha Smith
    UREC’s College & Career Ready EMR Institute prepares students attending high schools in Baton Rouge for careers in the medical field, while providing a pathway to industry-based certification. During the institute, scholars learned life-saving skills such as CPR, how to detect vital signs, trauma response and injury care management under the instruction of Bob Brankline with the East Baton Rouge Parish School’s Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC).
    Throughout the institute, scholars participated in lecture-based instruction at Southern University School of Nursing and hands-on, skills-based instruction at CTEC. Scholars also participated in work site visits with the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security (Red Stick Ready), Baton Rouge General Mid-City, ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge EMS & 911 Operations, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (Fran U).
     
    Adrianna Brown, class valedictorian, said the program taught her technical, leadership and effective communication skills. “I learned how to take blood pressure, splint legs and arms, and how to listen to and analyze people’s airways,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”

    UREC held a graduation and pinning ceremony on June 12, 2019 at Southern University School of Nursing. Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair of the Southern University’s BSN Program, delivered the keynote address. Greggs encouraged graduates to exercise empathy, patience, continued education, self-care, humor, trust and teamwork as they embark upon future studies and careers in the healthcare field.

    Photo (L-R): Danielle Duncan, UREC, Youth Program Coordinator; Adrianna Brown; LeahRuffin; Alexus Maiden; Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair, Southern University School of Nursing BSN Program; Abria Scott; Bridget Calhoun; Aisha Smithand Kathryn Robinson, UREC, Youth Program Director.
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    Teens complete Emergency Medical Responder Institute

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation presented the 2019 graduating class of the College & Career Ready Emergency Medical Responder Institute. The graduates, all Baton Rouge area high school students, obtained Emergency Medical Responder certification upon their successful completion of the 10-week EMR Institute.
    UREC’s 2019 College & Career Ready EMR Institute graduates are:
    • Adrianna Brown (Valedictorian)
    • Bridget Calhoun
    • Alexus Maiden
    • Leah Ruffin
    • Abria Scott
    • Aisha Smith
    UREC’s College & Career Ready EMR Institute prepares students attending high schools in Baton Rouge for medial careers while providing a pathway to industry-based certification. During the institute, scholars learned life-saving skills such as CPR, how to detect vital signs, trauma response and injury care management under the instruction of Bob Brankline with the East Baton Rouge Parish School’s Career and Technical Education Center.
    Throughout the institute, scholars participated in lecture-based instruction at Southern University School of Nursing and hands-on, skills-based instruction at CTEC. Scholars also participated in work site visits with the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security (Red Stick Ready), Baton Rouge General Mid-City, ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge EMS & 911 Operations, Baton Rouge Fire Department, and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (Fran U).
     
    Adrianna Brown, class valedictorian, said the program taught her technical, leadership and effective communication skills. “I learned how to take blood pressure, splint legs, and arms, and how to listen to and analyze people’s airways,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”UREC held a graduation and pinning ceremony on June 12, 2019, at Southern University School of Nursing. Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair of the Southern University’s BSN Program, delivered the keynote address. Greggs encouraged graduates to exercise empathy, patience, continued education, self-care, humor, trust and teamwork as they embark upon future studies and careers in the healthcare field.

    Photo (L-R): Danielle Duncan, UREC, Youth Program Coordinator; Adrianna Brown; LeahRuffin; Alexus Maiden; Dr. Latricia Greggs, Chair, Southern University School of Nursing BSN Program; Abria Scott; Bridget Calhoun; Aisha Smithand Kathryn Robinson, UREC, Youth Program Director.
    ONLINE: www.urec.org here.
    Read more »
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    SU Ag Center Uses Hydroponic Growing System to teach students, urban entrepreneurs

    Scientists at the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center have partnered with Tera Vega to conduct research on a new Hydroponic Growing System. Hydroponics is a process of growing plants without soil in either sand, gravel or liquid.
    Through this research, the Center will train students and urban entrepreneurs on new technologies that will maximize crop production with limited space.
    Professor of Urban Forestry Yemane Ghebreiyessus, Ph.D., and senior research associate Milagro Berhane are working to perfect the system with aspirations of teaching potential urban entrepreneurs how to effectively grow crops in areas with limited space and generate personal and community wealth opportunities.
    For additional information about this research project, contact Milagro Berhane at milagro_berhane@suagcenter.com or Yemane Ghebreiyessus, Ph.D., at yemane_ghebreiyessus@suagcenter.com.
    Read more »
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    Seed to Stomach: Grow Baton Rouge’s Food Cubes, other innovations tackle hunger

    For organizers and volunteers of Grow Baton Rouge, the fight against food deserts in North Baton Rouge is beyond the “last mile” of getting fruits and vegetables to the community.

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    Produce on the Fresh Cube

    “We are committed to resolving this major problem, not only through our gardens, urban farms, and mobile markets but through an upcoming wave of innovative efforts and initiatives that will definitely have a great positive impact of NBR and the city as a whole,”said Jasiri Basel, executive director of THE CEO MIND Foundation.

    Innovative has been the perfect word to describe the ongoing presence of THE CEO MIND Foundation and its Grow Baton Rouge throughout the city. Since 2017, the group has established 11 gardens and two urban farms, launched three “Fresh Cube” mobile market vehicles, and a bus called “The Desert Destroyer.”

    It also houses science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics initiatives and programs ranging from a mobile innovation lab called “The Transformer” and Grill & Connect to a high-tech Youth Empowerment Zone at the MLK Community Center on Gus Young Ave. They also host Girls EmPOWERed, Womanhood 101, and Manhood 101 forums.

    The Transformer

    The Transformer

    Through the Grow Baton Rouge initiative, the foundation expands its mission into agriculture by providing seeds, launching community gardens in neighborhoods around the city of Baton Rouge, and giving 300 residents the knowledge and tools to begin growing at home.

    According to Basel, Grow Baton Rouge has a model that encompasses the full supply chain and logistics that involves area farmers, businesses, ag specialists, and certified growers–for starters.

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    The latest Fresh Cube designed by THE CEO MIND Foundation for Grow Baton Rouge

    “It’s critical for communities to be able to feed themselves through sustainable farming. It not only aids overall but it’s critical for health and wellness. North Baton Rouge contains many miles, areas, and neighborhoods with food deserts and swamps,” said Basel.

    “We believe that as long as a community has land to grow food, that no one deserves to or should go hungry,” he said.

    Grow Baton Rouge hosts Market Days weekly at different locations. Visit the website, www.growbatonrouge.com, for times and locations.

    ONLINE: http://growbatonrouge.com
    www.THECEOMINDFoundation.org
    By Candace J. Semien
    @JozefSyndicate

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    Whitney Plantation: A tour of truth appropriate for Juneteenth

    EDGAR, La—On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned they were free from the United States institution of slavery. It was a great time of celebration and great trepidation. Thousands of the newly freed people had nowhere to go so they stayed on the plantations or near it, maintained the crops, and kept the plantation operational. Some lived as freed people. Some unknowingly continued living and being treated as slaves. This was the case of more than 300 African Americans living at the Haydel plantation from the late 1860s until 1975. To understand their stories and their brilliance within the confines of slavery and sharecropping, one would need to visit the Whitney Plantation in Edgar, Louisiana.

    “Use this time of Juneteenth to reflect on our individual families and their lives following slavery,” said genealogist and historian Antoinette Harrell who has followed family lineages in South Louisiana. According to a series of interviews published by Vice, Harrell has uncovered long-hidden cases of Black people who were still living as slaves a century past the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. She even interviewed a St. Charles, La. family who had been enslaved through the 1960s.

    Antoinette Harrell

    Antoinette Harrell

    “This is a time of celebration but it is also time to challenge ourselves to know more about our own families, to research and find out what happened to them at freedom, in slavery, and before then,” she said.

    This reflection and research has been done for the Haydel family who were the original owners of the Whitney Plantation. (It is now the nation’s sole plantation that tells the story of slavery through the eyes of the enslaved children who lived there.) This reflection is also being done by visitors—like the Semien family from Baton Rouge—who walked the grounds earlier this month.

    Here are the children’s thoughts:

    I really enjoyed the Whitney Plantation and loved how the guide made Black brilliance and intelligence a main part of the tour. She pointed out many times how knowledgeable the enslaved people were and that they were selected because of their intelligence and strength. Hearing that about my ancestors made me remember that I should always work hard and strive to do my best. It also made me wonder where my family is from. I believe that we are from Senegal or the Senegambia region of Africa like she explained because most of the Africans stolen and brought to Louisiana plantations as slaves were from that area. I also liked learning that these Blacks were actually powerful and brilliant and we saw that they created everything the white people needed and everything the plantation needed to make money with sugar cane. Another big thing that I took away from this experience was if my ancestors didn’t have anything but their intellect and still found a way to be successful, why can’t I strive for excellence with everything, too?

    —Yulani, 11

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    The guide at Whitley Plantation told about the legacy that was stripped from history books until now. We toured through concrete memorials with thousands of names and dates of slave purchases, births, and deaths etched in each. We were told about the horrors of living on the plantation and of slavery and the brutal ways people were treated and punished; and even after slavery was over, how they continued to disenfranchise Blacks to keep their minds, money, and bodies enslaved. Slaves were shackled around their necks and ankles as a way of punishment. Some were being buried alive. She shared how Catholicism and religious leaders were predators who benefited off the institute of slavery here and in France. However, slaves fought back in subtle ways. Breaking tools, pretending to be sick, working slowly, stealing small items or treats, and sneaking off into the bayou were examples of resistance. The guide said the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery New Year’s Day 1863 but the Whitney Plantation was up and running with the same families until 1975! That was only 44 years ago. When the slaves found out they were free, they had nowhere to go so they ended up sharecropping—which was still a form of slavery—until the closing of the plantation.

    This experience made me see the relationship between modern behavior and previous practices towards Blacks. The most impactful part was when the guide explained how Blacks were kidnapped for their intellectual skills and physical characteristics. She explained how the Africans’ knowledge was used to make the plantation profitable. In school we are taught this land we are living in is the land of the free, home of the brave even though the truth of the bravest people have been omitted or watered down in textbooks. Whitney Plantation told us the truth in many ways. What sticks with me the most is the fact that the enslaved people were brilliant architects and agriculturalists, great musicians, and amazingly strong. If they could do all that while in bondage, then there is much more that I could do.

    - Condoleezza, 13

    web whitney chains

     

    After discussing with the tour guide the different ways Africans built and worked around the plantation we realized some of the traits presented by the Africans on the plantation are also represented by their descendants today. The tour guide discussed the way that rice growing technique was enhanced by Blacks who never grew rice Africa but knew agriculture so well they could cultivate it in Louisiana better than their owners. She also explained how they were smart architects and carpenters who built the big house at Whitney without nails and placed it where air could circulate in the house based on the location. Some slaves were good at building and construction and were making houses or blacksmithing while others would harvest crops and manage the master’s home. Slaves with special talents—like playing instruments or singing— would work in at the plantation, then the overseers or masters would rent them out for their talent so he could make more money off the slave and his friends be entertained. This tour has stressed the importance of self-confidence and education. It helps us to see where we came from and some of us are shown that we have potential and can complete any task.

    - Collin, 14

    ONLINE: WhitneyPlantation.com

     By Cora Lester
    The Drum Managing Editor

    Read more with The Drum

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    Ponchatoula Student Outreach holds victory celebration

    From the happy expressions on the faces of after-school students entering the Ponchatoula Community Center recently, it was easy to see something exciting was about to happen.

    After their usual healthy snacks, pupils first eagerly participated in Mad Science projects.

    Mad Science of Southeast Louisiana is a leading science enrichment provider based in Metairie. Its trained technicians travel year ‘round throughout the area bringing “education wrapped in entertainment” to schools, birthday parties, and many other special events.

    “Dr. B” Brittany and “Super Nova” Shelby led in making technicolor blenders, using molecules to make physical and chemical reactions. Teachers and Director Offering Congratulations

    Later, parents and guardians joined students in the gym to enjoy a full delicious jambalaya meal with salad, vegetables, and desserts at tables displaying student artwork with positive comments about the after school program.

    Earlier, City Human Resources Director Lisa Jones had personally provided pottery supplies needed for the students to make handmade gifts for their parents. Each decorated box read “Let these gratitude beads be a constant reminder of how much I appreciate everything you do for me.”

    Student Outreach Director May Stilley and Mayor Bob Zabbia welcomed the crowd, thanking the many who boost the youth in the program: Community Center Director Lynette Allen, City Council Members represented by Braville LeBlanc, Advisory Board, teachers, bus drivers, volunteer tutors from SLU Math 367 and PHS Key Club, to name a few.

    Teachers joined Stilley congratulating their students as they handed each a Certificate of Completion. (1st and 2nd grades: Charlotte Gordon and Daphine Griffin, Para’s: Shirley Creel and Cathy Colkmire; 3rd and 4th grades: Lisa O’Donnell and Desrie George; Para’s: Annette Tullier, Leigh Burnthorne and Kelly Martin; 5th and 6th grades: Kim James and Elisha Perry; Para’s: Janea Magee and Kacey Martin; 7th and 8th grades: Windy Haist and Alison Buzbee.)

    Desrie George’s beautiful voice rang out as he sang from his heart “You Can Fly” – words to encourage not giving up but working to make dreams come true.

    At comment time, Key Club officers Austin Granier and Matt Hailey were quick to say their lives have been enriched by working with the students each day.

    Students themselves came forward with smiles, one expressing her initial fear of being with strangers but it had been more like family as she gained new friends.

    Rejoicing at good gradesAnother young lady beamed she had gone from Fs to As in Math. Next, her father praised the program for its help, adding with humor, there’s no longer stress in their home over homework! A mother agreed from her seat to the change in her home and how grateful she is for all the people who make it possible. To this, many “amens” rang out.

    Before the evening closed with Bingo, May Stilley reminded parents and guardians of the 53 students that they have the most influence: “You are the first teacher.”

    She continued to the students, “We want our community to be the best it can be. Obey law, respect each other and the community. Find something you like to do, study to do it, then find somebody to pay you to do it. It all starts with education.”

    In teachers’ personal written comments to Stilley, one expressed the thoughts of all, saying each student is placed in their lives for a reason. They might not all be a “shining star” or “perfect student” but by opening the doors of communication and learning from each other, even those arriving with a “don’t care” attitude, can turn their lives around to believe in themselves when they see how many others already believe in them.

    The program for the coming school year will begin in September. For more information or if you would like to volunteer, donate or become a sponsor for the program, contact May Stilley at 985-401-2210 or Lisa Jones at 985-386-6484.

     

    By Kathryn J. Martin
    Contributing Writer

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    SU students commemorating Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ through study abroad program

    With this year being coined as the “Year of Return” by Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo, many African Americans are planning to travel to the West African country to commemorate the 400th year since transatlantic slave trade began. Joining in the number of celebrities and other tourists will be a group of Southern University students and faculty.

    “I cannot think of a better way for our students to pay homage to the defiant and indomitable spirit of the ancestors and the legacy of strength, endurance, and self-love that we are called to build upon,” said Cynthia Bryant. “They will be able to fully engage in what I believe will surely be a memorable and transformative pilgrimage to the Motherland.”

    The Southern delegation is participating in the African Diaspora Studies in New Orleans and Ghana program, along with participants from University of Oregon and Xavier University. This four-week program will explore the transformative journey of Africans living in America. Focusing on the broad spectrum of human experience related to the African diaspora, the program will examine the relationship between Louisiana, where the program begins, and West Africa, where it will conclude.

    For the first part of the program, participants will spend 11 days in New Orleans, which was the first port of entry for many Africans enslaved in America. The itinerary includes visits to historical and cultural sites, many of which are still in use today, and course lectures.

    The second part of the course will be spent in Ghana, where participants will be completely immersed in the country’s culture while living with residents and going on excursions. Course lectures will continue to expand on the emotional, cultural, and socio-economic impact of forced migration and displacement of Africans in America.

    The program starts July 7 and runs until Aug. 1. Though participation in this study is funded through a partial grant, students welcome contributions to defray costs, including airfare, lodging, and fees associated with the trip to Accura, Ghana.

    For more information about the trip and to give donate, visit http://bit.ly/sughanatrip.

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    Teens invited to apply to UREC’s 2019 IGNITE Fellowship

    Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation is accepting applications for the 2018 College & Career Ready IGNITE Fellowship.  IGNITE is an interactive summer and after-school initiative that prepares high school students to create the jobs of tomorrow through entrepreneurship training, college and career readiness and ACT Prep. Complete the IGNITE Fellowship application here.

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    Walker receives Iowa State achievement award

    Retia Scott Walker, Ph.D. has been named the 2019 Alumni Achievement Award recipient by the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University (ISU). She is vice chancellor for academics and student services/ associate dean of Southern University’s College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.
    According to ISU website, the award recognizes alumni who have accomplished meritorious service and/or distinguished achievements in business and industry, education, family and consumer sciences and health.
    “I am excited about this recognition and look forward to returning to Iowa State University this fall to participate in the celebration honoring graduates of the college,” said Walker. “I had a great experience there and developed lasting relationships with classmates and professors, some of whom I am still in touch with annually,” she said.
    Walker has been an educator for more than 50 years. She has served as the Vice Chancellor for Academics and Student Services/ Associate Dean in the SU College of Agriculture since November 2017. Prior to coming to Southern University Walker has served as an Interim Provost, an Executive Assistant to the President and as a Department Chair in Human Ecology, all at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Walker has also held the position of Vice President of Academic Outreach and Public Services, Dean and Professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, both at the University of Kentucky and Assistant Professor in the College of Education Graduate Program at Texas Women University.
    Walker earned a B.S. in home economics education and a minor in foods and nutrition from Tuskegee University; an M.S. with a concentration in Family Studies from Hunter College; an M.S. ED in Education Administration and Supervision from Pace University (NYC) and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Iowa State University. Walker also completed her post-doctoral studies in gerontology at the University of Maryland-College Park and Baltimore, and the Executive Education Program from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
    This award will be the third time she has been recognized by Iowa State University. In 1983, she was honored as an Outstanding Ph.D. Graduate and in 2003 she received the Virgil Lagomarcino Laureate Alumni Award from the College of Education.
    She will receive the 2019 Alumni Achievement  Award in October during Iowa State’s Homecoming.
    Read more »
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    Will your child ride the bus next year?

    In order to create a more efficient bus routing system for the children who choose to ride, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System wants to know if parents DO NOT plan to use East Baton Rouge Parish Schools System’s transportation services for the 2019-2020 school year.

    Parents are encouraged to take survey if they plan to use alternative transportation for their students next year. If the student will use Transportation Services there is no need to complete the survey, school officials said. Free transportation is always available to eligible students in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. You may opt back in at any time. Parents/guardians are responsible for notifying the school of attendance regarding any changes in home address, phone numbers or school transfers made during the school year. Note: This survey does not guarantee official approval of transportation services. Most importantly, if eligible, transportation services can be added at any time.

    Take Survey

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    Applications now available for the SU Ag Center’s Summer CLIMATE Program

    Applications are currently being accepted for the SU Ag Center’s Cultivating Leadership Innovation by Motivating Agricultural Talents through Education (CLIMATE) Program.

     CLIMATE is a two-year summer program for current high school juniors. The program will provide supplemental instruction and assist participants in qualifying for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship. The participants will also be given the opportunity to gain pre-collegiate work experience during a professional internship in their home town or a neighboring parish.

    During the first year of the program, participants will spend four weeks on the Southern University campus preparing for the ACT test and participating in educational courses and field trips.

    At the completion of the four weeks, the students will receive a $500 educational assistance award.

    Students will further their knowledge during the second year of the program by working for eight weeks in an agricultural related internship with either a state or local government agencies or community organizations. The returning participants will receive a $2,000 stipend after successfully completing the internship.

    Participation in CLIMATE is free of charge, however, only high school juniors will be accepted into the program.

    To apply, applicants must submit an application with an official transcript and a one and a half page double spaced essay which includes:

    • •An introduction of the applicant to include what he or she would like the selection committee to know about him/herself.
    • •The applicant’s definition of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences.
    • •Why the applicant believes that Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences are important.
    • •The applicant’s goals and aspirations for the future.

     

    Additionally, applicants must have at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and scored between a 14 and a 19 on the ACT.

    Applications are due May 20.

    To obtain an application or for additional information contact, Dr. Dawn Mellion-Patin, Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach, at 225-771-3532 or via email at dawn_mellion@suagcenter.com.

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  • ,,

    Dereck J. Rovaris Sr. named president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education

    LSU Vice Provost for Diversity Dereck J. Rovaris Sr. has been named president of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, or AABHE.

    AABHE is the premier organization to drive leadership development, access and vital issues concerning Blacks in higher education, AABHE also facilitates and provides opportunities for collaborating and networking among individuals, institutions, groups and agencies in higher education in the United States and Internationally.

    Rovaris earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas with a triple major in psychology; human development and family life; and crime and delinquency studies. He worked for three years as a financial aid counselor at Xavier University of Louisiana, where he earned an M.A. in guidance and counseling. He later earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Illinois.

    Rovaris returned to Xavier, serving as assistant dean of the graduate school, director of graduate school placement and as an assistant professor with the graduate school. He also directed two nationally recognized student enrichment programs, Xavier’s McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and its SuperScholar/EXCEL program.

    In 2006, he completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University. In 2007, he completed a Council for Opportunities in Education professional development tour in England and The Netherlands. Later in 2008-09, he was in Chicago at DePaul University as a presidential fellow with the American Council on Education. In 2010, he became associate vice chancellor for academic and multicultural affairs at the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, and in May 2014, he was named LSU vice provost for diversity.

    The LSU Office of Diversity is a division of the Office of Academic Affairs and provides support, referral and information to students, faculty and staff on issues and concerns related to diversity and inclusion. For more information, please visit www.lsu.edu/diversity.

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    Multiple sclerosis survivor named chief student marshal for spring commencement

    After being diagnosed with a sometimes debilitating illness, Chacity Simmons felt even more determined to continue her education and reach her goals. Because of her tenacity and hard work, Simmons is the chief student marshal for the 2019 Spring Commencement for Southern University Baton Rouge set for Friday, May 10 at 10 a.m. at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.

    “This is an unbelievable honor,” said Simmons, who is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. “As I go through life, I strive to do my best. I remain extremely humble and most grateful for Southern University’s recognition of one of my most important achievements. I extend my sincere gratitude for this honor.”

    Though she has consistently performed well academically, life has placed obstacles in her way that attempted to discourage her from continuing her education. In 2016, a semester before attending Southern, Simmons was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). As a result, she became temporarily disabled, unable to walk unless assisted by a cane.

    “After a month of treatment, I fully regained my physical strength and was able to care for myself,” Simmons said. “Throughout the struggle with my health, I felt that I should make the best out of my life and continue my education at Southern University. Despite my medical diagnosis, I chose to persevere no matter the circumstance.”

    It has not been easy to manage life with yet another hurdle. Simmons, who is a single mother and a paralegal at the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office, knew that she could not give up. Being a role model for her family and friends, including her son, was very important.

    “My son is a constant reminder of how I should fight through the pain and continue my education,” Simmons said. “My son helps keep me on my toes. He’ll remind me to take my medication whenever he notices that I’m swamped with homework. Some days are better than others, but overall I’ve adjusted to my life well.”

    Because of her challenging lifestyle, she chose the online criminal justice program because of the convenience of the self-paced learning environment. She mentioned that it was easy and accessible to browse course materials and respond to discussion posts through the app on her phone.

    As Simmons prepares to turn the tassel, she prepares for the next chapter in her life. Her future plans include attending law school at the Southern University Law Center and becoming an attorney.

    “In my current position, I have the ability to observe and assist attorneys and it definitely encourages me to pursue a career in law,” said Simmons, who is prepping to take the LSAT. “It’s quite an honor to learn from some the Southern University’s Law School alumni.”

    Before she departs the Bluff, she wants to pass along one piece of advice to students who are balancing a challenging diagnosis and wanting to pursue a college experience: Do not be discouraged.

    “Throughout life, we may experience situations that are unwanted or unexpected, but with hard work and determination, you shall overcome,” she said. “Remain focused on your goal no matter the circumstance. Adjusting to a new diagnosis may be difficult, but the ultimate reward for endurance is satisfying.”

    By Jasmine D. Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    Edwards named Principal of the Year semi-finalist

    East Baton Rouge Parish principal Catasha Edwards has been name a semifinalist in the Louisiana Department of Education’s 2020 Teacher and Principal of the Year.

    Edwards, who is principal at Westdale Heights Academic Magnet School, is one of 14 semi-finalists statewide and the only one from East Baton Rouge. She was also an assistant principal at Audubon Elementary.

    These educators are making exceptional gains with students, pushing them to achieve at the highest levels in the state.

    All Teacher and Principal of the Year finalists and semi-finalists will be honored at the 13th Annual Cecil. J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration on Friday, July 19, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Executive Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    ONLINE: Louisiana Believes

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    Hammond Community STEM Cafe is Saturday, April 27

    A perfect Saturday morning activity for parents looking for something enriching for the whole family. K-12 students of all ages and parents can feed their minds about the amazing world of science, technology, engineering, and math.

    High school students converse with STEM Professionals from a variety of occupations and fields about college and careers experiences.

    Middle School students will explore STEM careers with hands-on activities from STEM Experts.
    Elementary Students discover how fun STEM is with local robotics teams, live animals, and more!
    Parents will be engaged with information about how to help prepare your child for college and career opportunities in STEM.

    Space is limited for this event to ensure a quality experience for all participants. By registering for this event, you are ensuring a spot is reserved especially for your child(ren).

    For more information, call 985-520-4194 or email us at tangistem@gmail.com. Check out our website for more STEM at www.tangistem.org

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    OneUnited Bank to award $1,000 to middle schoolers with national contest

    Ten Middle School Age Children Are Eligible to Win $1,000!

    For National Financial Literacy Month, OneUnited Bank, the nation’s largest black-owned bank, is proud to announce its 9th Annual “I Got Bank!” Financial Literacy Contest where ten children will win a $1,000 savings account.

    The contest represents the best essays and art projects that embody the “I Got Bank!” theme.

    Students from across the country between the ages of 8 and 12 are encouraged to read a financial literacy book of their choosing, and either write a 250-word essay or create an art project to show how they would apply what they learned from the book to their daily lives.

    “We’ve seen our financial literacy efforts increase awareness through the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack movement,” said OneUnited Bank President Teri Williams, who authored the book, “I Got Bank!”, when she found that there weren’t any books geared toward educating urban youth about finances.

    Submissions must be emailed or postmarked by June 29, 2019. The Bank will choose ten winners and award each winner a $1,000 savings account at OneUnited Bank by August 31, 2019.

    This article originally appeared in LA Focus.

     

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    Southern’s Victor Mbarika earns third lifetime achievement award for IT work in developing nations

    In recognition of his contributions to the growth of education in Nigeria and other African countries, Southern University professor Victor Marika was recently honored by  the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria, Nsukka Diocese, in Enugu State, for his work in information and communication technology.

    Mbarika is an endowed professor of information and communication technology at Southern University and A&M College. He also directs the International Centre for IT Research and Development at Southern which focuses on advancing IT research and training worldwide with emphasis on developing nations.

    Victor Mbarika

    Victor Mbarika

    During the 25th anniversary of the church, the Anglican Bishop of Nsukka Rt. Revd. Aloysius Eze Agbo said Mbarika–who is  Cameroonian–has “distinguished himself in the promotion of education system in the country, through empowering the youth in the area of ICT. He said such services to the country deserve commendation and reward.”

    “This is the third lifetime achievement to Prof. Victor Mbarika, in recognition of his outstanding entrepreneurial achievement, which has created job opportunities to numerous people in our society,” Agbo said. He previously received a lifetime achievement award from the African Society for Information and Communication Technology for his “contribution to ICT research and education” and another  from the Cameroon Association of Engineers and Computer Scientists for “outstanding contribution to computer science and telecommunications”.

    Mbarika is also the founder and president, Board of Trustees of the Information and Communication Technology University, that trained more than 20,000 students across the globe. He said he is delighted in the honor and promises to continue to assist Nigerians and others in the acquisition of quality education. “I am  delighted  in the honor given to me and promised to continue to assist Africans and others in the acquisition of quality education, adding that in due course, i would establish ICT university in Nigeria, as obtained in Cameroon, Uganda and other African countries,” said Mbarika.

    ONLINE: Southern University

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    Jinx Broussard wins national teacher of the year award

    LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Jinx Coleman Broussard, Ph.D. is the recipient of the 2018 Scripps Howard Foundation’s Teacher of the Year Award. The national competition recognizes excellence in teaching in several areas, including innovative teaching practices, influence on curriculum, mentoring of students and faculty scholarship as it relates to teaching, leadership in educational activities and on-going industry engagement inside and outside the classroom.

    Broussard is the Manship School’s Bart R. Swanson Endowed Memorial Professor and has been teaching public relations, strategic communications, media history, and mass media theory at the Manship School since she joined the School full time in 2006.

    Dubbed a pioneer in the classroom by her peers, Broussard is a strong supporter of community organizations through her service-learning curriculum. Her public relations campaigns students have successfully navigated regular course work while forming companies and selecting appropriate agency names and logos before conceiving of and implementing campaigns for dozens of local nonprofit organizations. For the past seven years, Broussard has partnered with Donate Life Louisiana to provide experiential learning opportunities to her students. Each year Broussard’s students develop strategic communication and public relations campaigns aimed at promoting organ, tissue and eye donation. Her work alongside students has led to increased donation awareness nationally for the Louisiana donor registry. Additionally, public relations campaigns produced by Broussard’s students for Donate Life Louisiana have won three national awards since 2014 – two first place awards and one second place award.

    Broussard has been honored with numerous awards, including The Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership (CCELL)’s 2018-2019 Service Learning Happy Award, the Public Relations Association of Louisiana’s (PRAL) First Circle Award for lifetime achievement in the field, the Clarence L. Barney African American Cultural Center Distinction in Diversity Award, the Baton Rouge Area of Black Journalists (BRAABJ) Pioneering Black Journalist Award, and the Legends Award from the LSU A. P. Tureaud Jr. Black Alumni Chapter, among others.

    “Jinx brings unmatched experience and enthusiasm to the classroom, and the Teacher of the Year Award highlights her fierce dedication to student learning and to seeing her students succeed. We are so proud of Jinx—but not surprised at all—that she won this prestigious award.” Martin Johnson, dean of the Manship School, said. “Over the years, Jinx has mentored countless students who have gone on to oversee communications for top national brands and non-profits. Many of the doctoral students she has mentored have gone on to professorships and have themselves shaped the lives of students as well.”

    Broussard’s research interests include the black press, representations of racial and ethnic minorities, media history, alternative media, crisis communication, public relations strategies and tactics, and the civil rights movement. These interests date back to her Ph.D. dissertation, “Lifting the Veil on Obscurity: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists: 1890-1950” and subsequent books on these women. Broussard is also author of the national award-winning book titled African American Foreign Correspondents: A History. She also is co-author of a book about crisis communication that is scheduled to come out in May.

    As a public relations professional, Broussard was the director of university relations at Dillard University before becoming director of public information for the city of New Orleans and press secretary to Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy in New Orleans for almost eight years.

    When notified of her selection, Broussard said her teaching involves drawing out of students the talents they do not know they possess, while guiding them to reach deep inside themselves to accomplish goals they thought were too advanced at the beginning of the semester but mastering them by the end of the semester.

    “I achieve this with my students by setting the highest expectations, by never handing them an answer, by challenging them and their solutions in ways the real world would, and by demonstrating by example that excellence involves being accountable and available, never cutting corners, and above all, that integrity is paramount to success not only in their academic and professional careers, but in their lives,” Broussard said.

    Broussard’s Teacher of the Year award will be presented at the beginning of the keynote session during the 2019 AEJMC Toronto Conference. The Scripps Howard School of Journalism will also hold a ceremony in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 18.

    Read more »
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    TPPS Superintendent Stilley gives advice for this week of testing

    Students in Tangipahoa’s public schools will begin spring testing this week, and while some students (and parents) panic, School Superintendent Melissa Stilley said there are several things families can do to ease worries over the annual assessments.

    Statewide testing begins this week for students in grades 3-8. Because of class configurations and limitations on computers in local schools, Tangipahoa will stagger testing by individual classes from April 1-May 3.Students in grades 3 and 4 who take the paper-based LEAP 2025 test will do so from April 29-May 3.

    Stilley said that while test scores are important, the key to making testing easier on the entire family is to be mindful of the testing process and encourage students to do their very best.

    “As a parent and a grandparent myself, I try to remind students that spring testing is their chance to shine as they put all the knowledge and skills they have gained over the past eight months into action,” Stilley said.

    Stilley said students need to be reminded that they know the material, that they have practiced the necessary skills, and they are both ready and capable of taking these tests.

    “Encourage your child to speak positively and to practice positive self-talk when it comes to testing,” Stilley said. Great examples of this include, “I can do it;” and “I know how to do this.”

    During testing, it’s especially important students are in class. Make sure your students attend school on their testing days, and do your best to have them in class on time. Encourage your child to eat breakfast before testing, and if time is tight in the morning, encourage them to eat breakfast at school. Breakfast and lunch are both served at no cost to students at all Tangipahoa Parish School campuses.

    Students who do experience test anxiety or who show signs of worry about testing can practice simple relaxation exercises to help them overcome nerves before and during testing. Regulated breathing and simple visualization exercises are great ways to settle nerves. Stilley also encouraged families to talk to their students about testing.

    “Sometimes just being there to listen and reassure your child is the best medicine for a case of the nerves,” Stilley said.

    Stilley encourages parents to spread some positivity in these coming weeks, sharing notes of encouragement or just a kind word here and there with students and teachers alike as testing continues.

    “When we make someone else smile, when we shower others with kindness, that’s when we do our part to lift spirits. No matter what’s going on in your world today, take a moment to make someone’s day brighter,” Stilley said.

    For more info on state testing, go to the district website, www.TangiSchools.org, or contact your child’s school.

     

    Read more »
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    Lauren Roach receive MLK Humanitarian Award

    LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication junior Lauren Roach was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award by the LSU Black Faculty and Staff Caucus for her outstanding efforts in establishing a new initiative to improve race relations. Roach’s “Seaux Live” initiative aims to create safe spaces on campus for diverse students to meet and socialize to build a sense of community between people from the same ethnic background.

    Her initiative launched in September 2018 and resulted in many students gathering together between classes in a welcoming environment. Roach, a native of Bowie, Maryland, is studying digital advertising to work within the digital or social media marketing industry.

    Read more »
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    Girard Melancon picked to lead BRCC’s workforce solutions

    Girard Melancon, Ph.D., as vice chancellor for workforce solutions at Baton Rouge Community College. He has work with sector-based workforce training programs for more than 15 years and has invested more than $60 million foundation and taxpayer dollars into progressive workforce development initiatives. He is president of the National Council for Workforce Education. He earned a doctorate in education administration with higher education concentration in community and technical college finance and non-traditional students from the University of New Orleans.

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    Meat for Sale at annual livestock show

    Nearly 100 young herdsmen from throughout the state will converge on the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with hopes of having their prized winning animals named champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 76th Annual Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event, which will be held from February 28 – March 2, provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their hard work in raising and caring for various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats and poultry. Winners will receive premiums, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.

    The Livestock Show Office is inviting local schools to come to the show on March 1 to participate in guided tours. The tour will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco free living and nutrition exhibits.

    Pre-orders of non-processed choice meats from various livestock are currently being accept by the Livestock Show Office. All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are available:

    One whole beef $2,000

    One half beef $1,000

    One-fourth beef $500

    One whole pork $225

    One whole lamb $200

    One whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to being picked up from the slaughter house.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to make a purchase during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    The office will deliver the meat to either Cutrer’s Slaughter House in Kentwood (985) 229-2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine (225) 687-4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at the Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The Livestock Show provides a venue for youth to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character and receive leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visit http://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019, call 225.771.6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

    ONLINE:  http://www.suagcenter.com/

     

    Read more »
  • ,,

    SU Ag Center’s set to host 76th Annual Livestock Show

    Nearly 100 young farmers from throughout the state will converge on the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena with hopes of having their prized winning animals named champion during the Southern University Ag Center’s 76thAnnual Livestock and Poultry Show.

    The event, which will be held from February 28 – March 2, provides an opportunity for youth to showcase their hard work in raising and caring for various breeds of cattle, hogs, sheep, lamb, goats, and poultry. Winners will receive premiums, ribbons, rosettes and trophy belt buckles.

    The Livestock Show Office is inviting local schools to come to the show on March 1 to participate in guided tours. The tour will include a mini petting zoo, hands-on plant, tobacco-free living and nutrition exhibits.

    Pre-orders of non-processed choice meats from various livestock are currently being accepted by the Livestock Show Office. All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are available:

    • One whole beef $2,000
    • One half beef $1,000
    • One-fourth beef $500
    • One whole pork $225
    • One whole lamb $200
    • One whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to being picked up from the slaughterhouse.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to make a purchase during the show’s ‘Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena.

    The office will deliver the meat to either Cutrer’s Slaughter House in Kentwood (985) 229-2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine (225) 687-4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    Since 1943, Southern University has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for youth throughout the state to gain valuable knowledge and skills at the Annual State Livestock and Poultry Show. The Livestock Show provides a venue for youth to showcase their animals, develop entrepreneurship skills, build character and receive leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to purchase meat or register a school for a guided tour, visithttp://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019, call 225.771.6208 or email decobea_butler@suagcenter.com.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

    Read more »
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    ‘Nature’ recognizes LSU chemistry professor Isiah Warner for mentorship

    Nature, the leading, international weekly journal of science has selected LSU Boyd Professor Isiah Warner for the Nature Award for Mentoring in Science. The Nature Awards for Mentoring in Science were founded in 2005 to celebrate mentorship, a crucial component of scientific career development that too often goes overlooked and unrewarded. Through Warner’s leadership and mentorship, the LSU Department of Chemistry has become the leading producer of doctoral degrees in chemistry for African Americans in the U.S. Under his direction, the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives has mentored countless numbers of students across eight programs from the high school to doctoral levels.

    “I am delighted at the achievements of our awards winners, including Dr. Warner, and I am especially delighted this year at the diversity of their experiences and of their commitments to mentoring. I know that the judges had a strong field of applicants. It’s terrific for Nature to be able to celebrate researchers who have been so outstanding in their encouragement of a strong scientific ethos in those who come after them,” said Sir Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Springer Nature.

    Warner is considered one of the world’s experts in analytical applications of fluorescence spectroscopy. His research aims to develop and apply chemical, instrumental and mathematical measurements to solve fundamental questions in chemistry.

    Warner has recently been recognized as the 2016 SEC Professor of the Year, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and American Association for Advancement of the Sciences. He also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Clinton and the American Chemical Society Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into the Sciences.

    “Dr. Warner’s dedication to teaching, service and research embodies the LSU mission. We congratulate him on this international recognition,” said LSU President F. King Alexander.

    Warner is also the Phillip W. West Professor of Chemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at LSU and has achieved the highest professorial rank in the LSU system — LSU Boyd Professor.

    Each year, Nature gives the awards in a different geographical region, and this year’s awards honor excellent mentors in the South of the United States. Awardees are nominated by a group of their former trainees, from different stages of the mentor’s professional life; and the winners of the awards have demonstrated outstanding mentorship throughout their careers.

    Read more »
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    Free library programs scheduled for all ages January

    The following special East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout January 2019. For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.

    The Library’s Featured Events, www.ebrpl.com (225) 231-3750
    Library Closures in Observance of January Holidays
    All locations of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library will close early at 6 p.m. Monday, December 31, and all day Tuesday, January 1, 2019, in observance of New Year’s Day. The Library also will be closed Monday, January 21, 2019, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For more information about these holiday closures, call (225) 231-3750. Check out the Digital Library 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com/DigitalLibrary.

    Join the Job Club Networking Group!
    The Career Center of the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is sponsoring an ongoing search and networking group for adult job seekers in professional careers. Job searching can be a lonely and discouraging activity, and this group will provide you with a safe space to meet and network with likeminded professionals who are challenged by the same job hunting process. Attendees will share job search experiences, network tips and encouragement, and they’ll learn the latest job search techniques and so much more. Patrons are welcome to join us at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Friday in January. It’s FREE and open to those in professional careers who are seeking employment. Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak will lead the meetings, and topics discussed will differ each week. For more information, call 225-231-3733. To register, go online to https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    *Get a Jump on Success, Take the ACT Practice Test!
    Your Library will offer a FREE American College Testing (ACT) practice exam at two locations this month! Teens can come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, January 5, and the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 26, to take the practice test. Spots are limited to 25 students per location, so you must register. Please note that preference will be given to teens who are currently enrolled in high school, and middle school students who wish to take the test will be permitted to do so only if there are still spots available the Monday before the test date. The paper practice test will be administered by Library staff through the Homework Louisiana database. Results will be sent to students via email; please allow 7-10 days to receive scores. Registration is required. To register, call the Library location directly.

    *Mastering the Job Interview
    Are you searching for a new job? Your performance during an interview can determine whether or not you get your dream job. Learn how to perfect your job interview skills through this FREE seminar! Adults can come to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 12, to get tips for a great interview, common traps and pitfalls to avoid and interactive demonstrations for answering the most common interview questions. Registration is required. For more information and to register, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733 or visit www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

    Get Organized in the New Year!
    Are you looking for tips and tricks to clean up the clutter and get organized? Join Certified Professional Organizer Alyssa Trosclair at the Main Library at Goodwood for a FREE seminar that’ll help you do just that! Adults are invited to the Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 12, to learn strategies that can help bring order to any space.

    The FBI & the Clementine Hunter Art Forgery Case
    Did you know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an Art Crime Team? The East Baton Rouge Parish Library Special Collections Departments invites adults to the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, for a presentation led by Special Agent Randy Deaton of the FBI’s Rapid Deployment Art Crime Team’s New Orleans Division. Deaton will discuss what the Art Crime Team does, as well as his investigation of the forgery of artwork by Clementine Hunter, a renowned Louisiana folk artist. Hunter was from north Louisiana, and in her earliest years, she sold her paintings for only 25 cents! By the time she died in 1988, many of them were valued in the thousands of dollars, some worth even more today. Several of Hunter’s paintings will be on display during the talk.

    *Geaux Science for Girls Storytimes
    Girls in kindergarten through third grade are invited to enjoy a special Geaux Science for Girls storytime at four Library locations this month! Girls can go to the either the Main Library at Goodwood, Baker Branch, Bluebonnet Regional Branch or Eden Park Branch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 26, to have fun with science and math-themed stories, plus hands-on science and math experiences led by some of Louisiana State University’s (LSU) top women scientists and mathematicians. Sponsored by Halliburton and the LSU College of Science, this unique storytime is designed to inspire the next generation of women innovators! Registration is required. To register, call the Library location directly.

    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile Visits Libraries in January & February!
    The BREC Baton Rouge ZooMobile has come back to the Library! Children ages 4-11 are invited to the Library in January and February to enjoy these FREE informative and entertaining programs designed to educate audiences about wildlife conservation. Attendees will be amazed as they get up close and personal with several live animals at each program and learn about their bone structures, fur and more! Each presentation lasts about one hour. Registration is required for all. For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Here’s the ZooMobile schedule:

    • 10:30 a.m. Thursday, January 3, Pride-Chaneyville Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 16, Zachary Branch
    • 11 a.m. Tuesday, January 22, Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, January 23, Fairwood Branch
    • 4 p.m. Wednesday, January 23, Delmont Gardens Branch
    • 10 a.m. Thursday, January 24, Carver Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Thursday, January 24, Central Branch
    • 4 p.m. Friday, January 25, Scotlandville Branch
    • 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, Baker Branch
    • 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 13, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, River Center Branch
    • 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 20, Jones Creek Regional Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 21, Eden Park Branch
    • 4 p.m. Thursday, February 28, Bluebonnet Regional Branch

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250
    Organizing for Your Weight Loss Goals
    Do you want to lose weight but feel overwhelmed by the mere thought of it? Adults are invited to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 8, for a FREE presentation led by Certified Professional Organizer Alyssa Trosclair that will explore the connection between the struggle with weight and disorganization. The seminar will offer simple organizational strategies that can help make achieving your weight loss goals easier. Start the New Year with positive action!

    Teen Bookmark Contest
    Grab your squad and head over to the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, to design a handcrafted bookmark with other teens, and then submit it for consideration in a contest! Prizes will be awarded to the top two winners.

    Stress Survival Workshop
    Stress wears away at your energy, immune system function, and emotional wellbeing. Prolonged, chronic stress can cause vulnerability to illness and disease. There is something you can do about it, however. Adults are welcome at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 17, for a FREE stress survival workshop led by Dr. Karen Dantin, MD. The presentation will offer tools that can be used to identify and eliminate recurring daily stressors, plus relaxation techniques that can help reduce the strain life can bring.

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450
    *Code It: Programming a Piano Story/Craft
    Kids ages 9-11 can come to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 16, to hear a reading of Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code by Stacia Deutsch, and Code It! Programming and Keywords You Can Create Yourself by Jessie Alkire. Later, each child will learn how to code using simple software.

    *DIY Lemon Raspberry Lip Balm
    Adults can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, January 28, for a fun craft that can help provide some much-needed relief in the winter months. Using simple, household ingredients, you’ll learn how to make sweet raspberry lemon-flavored lip balm. Limited to 10 participants.

    Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 274-4450
    *Octaband Movement Program
    This is a program for children ages 6-8 with physical disabilities. Come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, January 10, to hear a reading of excerpts from Being Fit by Valerie Bodden. After the story, we’ll move like an octopus by stretching, shrinking, flowing, flexing, cooperating and connecting to fun music!

    Pride-Chaneyville Branch Library, 13600 Pride-Port Hudson Rd., (225) 658-1550
    Make a Classy T-Shirt Necklace!
    Teens can head over to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 5, to make the perfect accessory for turtleneck shirts and sweaters. With five strips of T-shirt fabric formed into rings and an artificial flower for flair, you can create a simple and fabulous necklace!

    Rubber Band Bracelets
    You won’t believe how fast you can make these cool bracelets! Come to the Pride-Chaneyville Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, January 26, to craft with other teens. We’ve got colors for both guys and girls, so bring your squad with you to make fun creations without a loom!

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550
    Envision Your New Year: Vision Board Craft
    Start the New Year with optimism to reach your goals! Teens are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, January 7, to think about your goals, and then create a vision board using a poster and magazine clippings. After the craft, we’ll enjoy a sweet treat and discuss our plans for 2019!

    *You Can Be a King Story/Craft
    Kids ages 3-7 can come to the Scotlandville Branch at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 19, to hear a reading of You Can Be a King by Carole Boston Weatherford. Later, each child will create a Martin Luther King Jr. dreamcatcher craft.

    For more information about any of these January 2019 events or others, call the Library location where the event is being held directly or visit the schedule online at www.ebrpl.com. For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750 or visit the Library’s online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Youth ambassadors travel to the nation’s capital

    A panel of judges selected Kentwood High Magnet School 4-H’ers Jayla Berry and Ronny Johnson Jr. to represent Tangipahoa Parish at the National 4-H Council Walmart Healthy Habits Programming Training. The selection was made during an Impromptu Essay Contest on October 10.  These students were tasked with guiding their peers and communities, into living healthier lifestyles through the use of The Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project. 

    The training was held at the National 4-H Council Headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland on November 1– 3. 4-H youth and adult leaders from the Southern University Land-Grant Campus attended workshops on implementing the HYPE Project Curriculum. While attending the training, youth also had an opportunity to learn about health disparities, community access, policies, systems, and environmental changes through hands-on activities.

    Since attending the training, Berry and Johnson have hit the ground running and have committed to revitalizing Kentwood High Magnet’s school garden and building a Humanity Box for the Town of Kentwood.  During a regular 4-H Club meeting on November 14 the Youth Ambassadors presented their plans, and solicited their club members for feedback in getting the projects underway.

    The HYPE Project is a five-phase model which teaches youth ambassadors how to impact their communities by establishing youth-led campaigns. The phases of the project are: Think, Learn, Act, Share and Evaluate.

    For additional information about 4-H programs in Tangipahoa Parish, contact Nicolette Gordon, assistant youth development Agent at 985-748-5462.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Land-Grant Campus.

    Photo:  Kentwood High Magnet School students Ronny Johnson, Jr. and Jayla Berry attended the National 4-H Council Walmart Healthy Habits Programming Training in Chevy Chase, Maryland on November 1-3, 2018. The two youth ambassadors are developing plans to make their school and community healthier. (Photo courtesy of Nicolette Gordon, SU Ag Center.)

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    Professor researches link between ADHD, entrepreneurship

    Reginald L. Tucker, assistant professor in the Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems at LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business, recently published an article in Journal of Business Venturing that examined the influence of ADHD on business start-up.

    “It’s my most cited paper, and I think seminal to the Mental Health and Entrepreneurship literature stream,” said Tucker, adding, “We found that ADHD did influence business start-up when impulsivity was present.”

    There has been increased interest recently in how negative traits associated with mental disorders, such as ADHD, may have positive implications in entrepreneurship. While this research has the potential of producing important results, it is still in its infancy and consequently has received limited attention. To that end, Tucker’s study developed and tested a model that ADHD influences entrepreneurship through the multifaceted trait of impulsivity or the tendency to act on impulse rather than thought.

    “Findings demonstrate that entrepreneurship is indeed a unique area where negative traits, such as ADHD, may represent valuable assets,” Tucker said. There are at least two important practice implications associated with the results. First, the results imply that individuals with ADHD symptoms may be empowered to craft their own jobs to fit their special needs. Second, the findings suggest that people with ADHD symptoms and impulsivity will tend to prefer action speed over action accuracy and that this may be functional in the context of entrepreneurship.”

    ONLINE: https://www.lsu.edu/business/sdeis/index.php.

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    Dyslexia screening provision included in new criminal justice reform bill

    Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate health and education committee, announced that his provision providing for the screening of inmates for dyslexia is included in the new version of the First Step Act (S. 3649), legislation endorsed by President Trump to reform America’s criminal justice system. Cassidy announced his support for the legislation two weeks ago.

    “Having treated patients in prisons, I learned that illiteracy often leads someone to turn to a life of crime. Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I’m pleased Chairman Grassley, Jared Kushner and the White House agreed to incorporate my proposal for screening inmates for dyslexia into this bill. It makes sense that if a someone learns to read, they’re less likely to end up in prison and more likely to be a productive member of society. And if someone ends up in prison, they’re more likely to get a job and keep it once they are released. In the end, I think this will save some people from the prison system, make our streets safer, and save taxpayers money.”

    A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.

    The First Step Act will formally define dyslexia as “an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell.” The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate an evidence-based, low-cost, readily available dyslexia screening program into the new risk and needs assessment system, including by screening for dyslexia during the prisoner intake process and each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner. It also requires the U.S. attorney general to incorporate dyslexia treatment programs into recidivism reduction programs.

    In October, Cassidy and his wife, Dr. Laura Cassidy, coauthored a column about their family’s personal struggle to overcome dyslexia.

    In June, Cassidy met with Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner about prison reform, and Cassidy stressed the need to identify and address dyslexia in early education in order to prevent students from being consigned to a path of illiteracy, crime, and incarceration.

    Ameer Baraka

    Ameer Baraka

    In May 2016, Cassidy chaired a HELP Committee hearing on understanding dyslexia. The hearing featured actor Ameer Baraka, a New Orleans native who struggled with dyslexia as a student and turned to selling drugs. Barak discussed how he taught himself to read in prison on Fox News in April 2017.

    In February 2016, Cassidy’s READ Act was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to devote at least $2.5 million to dyslexia research every year.

    In 2015, Cassidy hosted world experts on dyslexia for a discussion at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, and chaired HELP Committee field hearings on dyslexia and education in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

    Each year, Cassidy introduces a resolution in the Senate designating October as National Dyslexia Awareness Month.

    Read more »
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    ‘Verbs, Vittles, and Vibes’ featured at SU event

    The Southern University Museum of Art, in partnership with the Nu Gamma Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., recently hosted “Verbs, Vittles, and Vibes: A tribute to the Black Arts Movement” on Thursday, Dec. 13 at the SU museum located in Martin L.Harvey Hall.

    The Black Arts Movement, led by poet Imamu Amiri Baraka, took place from 1965-1975 and impacted the poetry, music, art, and literature. Artists used the on-going political climate as a muse for their work. Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Haki Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez are notable names that contributed to the cause. Though started in the New York/ New Jersey area, it shifted to Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, and San Francisco, California.

    Guests enjoyed a reading of their favorite poems, light music, and refreshments.

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    Dr. Maurice Sholas inspires SU grads at fall commencement

    Nearly 500 graduates earned degrees from Southern University at its fall commencement, December 14. Led in by Traci Smith, chief student marshal, graduates convened to receive bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as commissions to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. The newest alumni heard from one of their own, Dr. Maurice Sholas, a physician and principal for Sholas Medical Consulting LLC.

    “You may look at today as a glorious ending, but it is a glorious beginning,” Sholas said to the graduates.

    The Baton Rouge native reflected on his family legacy of Southern alumni, beginning with his parents, who met each other at the university.

    “My first visit to Southern was while I was in my mother’s womb,” Sholas said. “My heart was set on Southern from the start in spite of naysayers — those who said I could go to a “good school” because I had good grades. Well, Southern University wasn’t just good to me. It was great.

    “I came here to see what is possible for people like us. I became a part of a community that cares for and cared about me.”

    Sholas said that Southern prepared him for life beyond the Bluff in a number of ways, including him going on to Harvard to earn his M.D. and Ph.D.

    “Southern gave me the confidence to stand with those from corners of the world I’d never heard of,” he said.

    Sholas told the graduates to not fret about tomorrow as they celebrated their achievements today.

    “You don’t have to know today (what’s next),” he said. “When I was sitting here, I had no idea what I would be doing for the next 20 years. While you sort it out, keep moving forward. Excellence defines us. Pride sustains us. Tradition guides us. We are Southern.”

    Sholas closed by reminding the graduates that Southern is a family-oriented organization that reaches well beyond the acres in the capital city.

    “Your SU tribe is a short phone call or text away,” he said. “And my service to you is not over after this message. What I know… what I have experienced is yours. We are Southern.”

    Former Louisiana Sen. Diana E. Bajoie received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university. The Southern University alumna who is a pioneer in state politics. In 1976, she was the only woman serving in the Louisiana House of Representatives; in 1991, she was the first black woman elected to the Louisiana Senate; and in 2004, she was the first woman elected as Senate President Pro Tempore.

    The ceremony can be viewed in its entirety at https://bit.ly/2SLS59d. The Fall 2018 Commencement program can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2S0ByhV.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

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    North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative selects 200 new students

    The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative has selected 200 local students to be part of the program’s fifth cohort, which will begin in January 2019. The students are predominantly from North Baton Rouge and are pursuing careers in electrical, pipefitting, millwright and welding crafts. Each student will receive free training and a National Center for Construction Education and Research Core, Level I, and Level II certification after completion of the program.

    The NBRITI program began in 2012 spearheaded by ExxonMobil in an effort to better connect community members to industry jobs. The training is based at Baton Rouge Community College’s Acadian Campus and provides no-cost training for high-demand crafts. For the past six years, several partners have supported the program and hired graduates including Baton Rouge Community College, ExxonMobil, Excel Group, Cajun Industries, ISC, Turner Industries, Performance Contractors, Jacobs Engineering, Pala Group, Triad, Brock Group, Geo Heat Exchangers, Stupp Corporation, GBRIA, Associated Builders and Contractors, Urban League of Louisiana, and Employ BR.

    “Our partnership is ensuring sustainable workforce educational opportunities in North Baton Rouge, as well as the entire region. ExxonMobil’s continued commitment to bring together business and industry, education institutions and the community is the model of corporate citizenship,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Steib.

    _G4A8249About 800 applicants for the fifth training class were screened by the Baton Rouge Community College and partner company representatives through a testing and interview process. Many attended the North Baton Rouge Career Fair in October to learn about opportunities in industry. The college will offer reduced-cost training opportunities for those students not accepted into the NBRITI program.

    “This training has the power to be transformative – not just for the graduates — but for their families as well. We will be hiring millwrights directly from this new class, and I pledge to continue to lead the initiative forward,” said ExxonMobil Refinery Manager Gloria Moncada. With the addition of a millwright track, this new class will triple in size compared to previous classes.

    A unique aspect of the program is a social skills component involving ongoing tutoring, financial literacy training, and resume and interview assistance. This involves additional support from organizations including the Urban League of Louisiana, BancorpSouth, and ExxonMobil YMCA Community Outreach Retiree Alliance.

    About 45 students of the current, fourth training class will graduate on Jan. 24, 2019, at a special ceremony at the Baton Rouge Community College Acadian Campus.

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    SU Ag Center now accepting meat pre-sale orders for 76th Annual Livestock Show

    The Southern University Livestock Show Office is currently accepting pre-orders for non-processed choice meats from various livestock.

    All proceeds from meat sales go directly to participating youth as a reward for their hard work and financial investment. The following meat choices and quantities are now available for pre-order:

    · Whole beef $2,000
    · Half beef $1,000
    · Fourth beef $500
    · Whole pork $225
    · Whole lamb $200
    · Whole goat is $175

    There is a processing fee that is not included in the original cost of the meat. All purchases must be paid by money order or check and made payable to the Southern University Ag Center Livestock Show, prior to picking up the meat from the slaughter house.

    Those who don’t pre-order their meat are invited to do so during the show’s ‘Special Junior Auction Sale’ on Saturday, March 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

    The office will deliver the meat to either the Cutrer Slaughter House in Kentwood, 985.229.2478 or Rouchers in Plaquemine, 225.687.4258.

    Donations to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank are also welcome.

    The 76th Annual State Livestock & Poultry Show will be held February 28 – March 2, 2019 at the Maurice A. Edmond Livestock Arena, 14600 Scenic Hwy, in Baton Rouge.

    Southern University has held an annual Livestock Show since 1943 and has continued the tradition of providing an opportunity for the state’s youth to showcase their animals, gain entrepreneurship skills and receive character and leadership training.

    For more information on the SU Ag Center’s Livestock Show, how to participate in the show or how to purchase meat; visit http://www.suagcenter.com/page/livestock-show-2019 or contact the Livestock Show Office at 225.771.6208.

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  • ,,

    Grambling State approved to offer cybersecurity degree

    NNPA Newswire–Grambling State University has been approved to offer the state’s first Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors provided their approval and support for the university’s program, according to a news release. The next step in the process is approval from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

    Students will be eligible to begin enrolling in the program in fall 2019.

    “With the vision of your team and the support of this Board, we are confident Grambling is prepared to educate cybersecurity professionals the market is demanding,” said Board Chair Al Perkins. “These graduates will be equipped with highly sought-after skills to protect us as technology becomes more prevalent in our daily lives.”

    Grambling State faculty member, researcher and a member of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Yenumula B. Reddy, Ph.D., has been spearheading the new program’s development.

    “We are excited about the work of Dr. Reddy and his team,” said Grambling State President Rick Gallot. “Their continuous innovation in research and the classroom are paving the way for this program. We are excited for the impact their leadership and our system-level support will have on our state and economy.”

    The news comes on the heels of an October report issued by the University of Louisiana System that said Grambling State University has doubled its fiscal health score since FY 2016, increasing from a 1.30 to a 2.60 as of the most recent report.

    The fiscal health score, developed by the Louisiana Board of Regents, measures overall organizational health, factoring in important components including debt, revenue, and ability to operate.

    “It’s been a team-wide effort,” Gallot said. “As a part of our commitment to innovation, we’ve engaged new talent and alumni from across the U.S. who not only understand our charge but offer us expert perspectives and thought leadership.”

    Leading the University’s fiscal health initiatives team is Martin Lemelle Jr. the University’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim Vice-President of Finance. The initiative also includes team members who offer experience from higher education, Silicon Valley, and public accountancy.

    “We’re an example of what’s possible when we partner,” said Lemelle. “The key to our successes has been a university-wide combination of collaboration and commitment. We’ve seen innovative ideas from every area, from our controller’s office to our academic units.”

    The outputs of these collaborative teams are having a direct impact on the institution’s bottom-line. Some of those outputs include:

    $1.2 million in annual savings through participating in the Department of Education’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program;

    Overall expense reduction of more than $6 million;

    A 320 percent annual increase in grants from federal and state government initiatives; and

    Realizing new revenue opportunities that include an increase in third-party commissions and its “Look for the Label” program which focuses on increasing licensing royalties.

    “Grambling State University is experiencing a renaissance. Its vastly improved fiscal health is yet another indication of the effective leadership and hard work occurring at all levels of the institution,” University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson said. “From its enrollment numbers to its operations, it’s exciting to see the rapid and significant advancement of this historic institution.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Correspondent

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    Dawn Mellion-Patin receives Iowa State’s 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award

    Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center’s Vice Chancellor for Extension and Outreach Dawn Mellion-Patin, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2018 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award by Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

    Patin has dedicated her career to educating and improving the lives of small farmers. In 2005, she developed the Southern University Ag Center’s Small Farmer Agricultural Leadership Training Institute, an intensive leadership development program that guides small, minority, socially-disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers through the process of becoming competitive agricultural entrepreneurs.
    aa8d40d7369d9be54015ed6f722c4bb9
    Her work in the field of agriculture has also provided her with the opportunity to serve as a panel manager for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); chair of the Southern Region- Agricultural and Natural Resources Program Leaders Committee; grant committee member for the USDA’s  National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); 1890 representative on the National Extension Disaster Education Network Executive Committee and historian for the National Society of Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) organization.

    She has received the SU Ag Center’s Outstanding Specialist Award, Tuskegee University’s Distinguished Service Award, the Association of Extension Administrators Excellence in Extension Award and USDA NIFA Cooperative Extension System Outstanding Leadership Award.

    Patin earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences and a master’s degree in educational agriculture, both from Southern University, and a doctoral degree in Agricultural and Life Sciences Education from Iowa State University.

    The George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award was established in 2005. The award honors distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership by making significant, influential, or innovative contributions to society.

    Patin received the award during the annual Honors and Awards Ceremony on October 26.

    By LaKeeshia Lusk
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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  • ,,

    Ponchatoula Student Outreach celebrates second year

    The City of Ponchatoula again participated in the national “Lights On Afterschool” event with its “Family & Friends Night” at the Ponchatoula Community Center for a time of celebrating the growth and positive results of its own after-school program.
    Called “Ponchatoula Student Outreach,” the program’s motto is “From Afterschool to Bright Futures” and according to reports on improvement in behavior and grades, the future is looking much brighter for some who have needed that extra encouraging nudge.
    It was more like Thanksgiving with all the appreciation expressed by each speaker from the microphone as well as family members around the tables.
    Program Director May Stilley and Mayor Bob Zabbia kicked off the evening with warm welcomes and thanks to students, parents, and guardians, City Council members, principals, teachers, volunteers and sponsors who have been generous in time and means to help the City make it all possible. School board members Mike Whitlow and Rose Dominguez were in attendance and acknowledged.
    Stilley also paid special tribute to the school bus drivers who do not charge extra to bring the students from their respective schools to the Community Center for their classes and to Transportation Coordinator, Tessa Hills. At one table, Key Club members from Ponchatoula High School were recognized for their volunteering to help give one-on-one help.
    After a meal, guest speaker Superintendent of Tangipahoa Parish School System, Melissa Stilley, continued in the same positive manner, offering her gratitude for the way the people of Ponchatoula have responded in so many ways to the student outreach. She said, “This is evidence of what partnership is all about,” adding her wish for every community to have an after-school program.
    Starting the program in time for the 2017 school year required a lot of preparatory work by Human Resources Director, Lisa Jones, and May Stilley, aiding Mayor Zabbia in realizing a dream come true and supported by him and the City Council.
    This school year, first and second grades were added bringing the total enrollment to 50 students and it is stressed this is not a babysitting program. Classroom teachers recommend the students that would profit most from the extra help. Ponchatoula Student Outreach teachers are available to meet with parents and guardians when picking up their children after classes.
    Staff for 2018-19 are 1st and 2nd grades: Daphne Griffin and Charlotte Gordon; 3rd and 4th: Kimberly James and Elisha Perry; and 7th and 8th: Windy Haist and Jennifer Daigle.
    Classroom assistants are Shirley Creel, Cathy Colkmire, Annette Tullier, Leigh Burnthorne, Jenea Magee, and Kacey Martin.
    The advisory board is comprised of members from each school participating. They are Amber Gardner, Tucker Elementary; Tamaria Whittington, D.C. Reeves; Rosalyn Heider and Melissa Ryan, Martha Vinyard; Mary Beth Crovetto, Ponchatoula Junior High; and Shelly Ernst and Danette Ragusa, St. Joseph School.
    The program uses community resources for youth to see and connect with positive role models.
    For those interested in being a sponsor, mentor or volunteer to invest in the long-term future success of the students and the community as a result, call her at 985-401-2210.

    By Kathryn J. Martin

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    MLK III joins Urban Specialists, leaders in celebrating BR’s reduced violence

    On Sunday, October 14, 2018 a historic ceremony for the City of Baton Rouge will take place as community leaders, a host of celebrities and the entire community come together for a special CourseCon Baton Rouge “Thank You Baton Rouge” event. This first of its kind experience for the Louisiana city will take place at 6 p.m. at the Raising Cane’s River Center. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend, including students from Southern University, Louisiana State and other nearby universities, who will be brought in on chartered buses sponsored by Urban Specialists and Raising Cane’s. CourseCon Baton Rouge is free and open to the public who register at http://urbanspecialists.org/3c.

    CourseCon Baton Rouge will bring together to some of the most prominent activists, cultural influencers, corporate executives and celebrities to have a real conversation about Baton Rouge’s urban community, renewal opportunities and eradicating violence and poverty in neighborhoods. CourseCon Baton Rouge will also be an opportunity to thank and celebrate the citizens of Baton Rouge and strides that have been made in the area, particularly since Urban Specialists opened an office there and partnered with city leaders and law enforcement officials.

    CourseCon Baton Rouge will also be historic as the hearse that carried prominent civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr’s body, will be unveiled for the first time since his death more than 50 years ago. Todd Graves, owner and founder of Raising Cane’s, bought the hearse from the original owner and through its unveiling, wants to remind young people what Martin Luther King, Jr contributed to society. “It’s important that the next generation really understands how the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world,” said Graves. “These kids did not get a chance to hear MLK during his lifetime, so I am hoping they will be able to appreciate him through this tribute to honor his life.” Dr. King’s son and namesake, Martin Luther King III, will be in attendance to speak and help pay tribute to his father with the dedication of the hearse.

    Featured panelists and speakers for CourseCon Baton Rouge include, Omar Jahwar, CEO and founder of Urban Specialists; Todd Graves, CEO and founder of Raising Cane’s; Murphy J. Paul Jr., Chief of Police, Baton Rouge; Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge; LaMont Cole, Baton Rouge City Council Member – District 7; Clay Young, marketing executive, radio show host and community activist; Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, former gang leader turned community advocate; Pastor Errol Dominique, senior pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church; James Gilmore, Ph.D., city leader and former top aide to Baton Rouge Mayor; NFL Hall of Famer, Deion SandersCortez Bryant, COO, Young Money Entertainment and Co-CEO of The Blue Print Group; Antong Lucky, director of national invasion with Urban Specialists and former leader of the infamous Bloods gang in Dallas, Texas; and Andricka Williams, widow of Alton Sterling, who was killed in 2016 in a controversial shooting by two Baton Rouge police officers.
    The moderated forum, in partnership with Urban Specialists, Raising Cane’s and the City of Baton Rouge will provide an opportunity for residents, civic stakeholders and key influencers to gather for a civil discourse. The intention of CourseCon Baton Rouge is to facilitate an in-depth conversation about shared interests, ways to promote thriving communities and stop senseless violence. Omar Jahwar is just the right person to lead this critical conversation as he is widely known all over the world for his results-driven approach to ending violence and bringing about positive change in urban areas of high crime and poverty. In Dallas, Jahwar adopted sixteen streets in one of the most crime-ridden, impoverished neighborhoods in Dallas and through his leadership, there is a 58% decrease in crime in that area. He also adopted high schools in those neighborhoods and they have seen a 72% reduction in violent incidents in just one school year.

    “We are excited to bring this conversation to Baton Rouge,” said Omar Jahwar. “We opened an office in Baton Rouge in early 2018 and have already seen significant results. We have a proven method that has worked in other urban areas and look forward to continuing to implement those strategies to further decrease violence in Baton Rouge.”

    Omar Jahwar is an expert in urban culture and the leading voice around the country for eradicating senseless violence. His efforts to revive urban culture began over twenty years ago as the first state-appointed gang specialist in Texas. In this role, he negotiated peace terms between incarcerated rival gang members. He also brought over 400 gang members together and negotiated the first peace treaty between the infamous Blood and Crip gangs in Dallas.

    Urban Specialists is taking CourseCon around the country to help activate change in urban neighborhoods.

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  • Black enrollment, faculty at public universities worse in La.

    Black citizens are underrepresented as undergraduates and on the faculties of America’s four-year public universities, according to a new report card by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center.

    Nowhere is the problem worse than in Louisiana. The report found that traditional-age (18-24) Black students are under-enrolled at three-fourths of public universities compared to their population in that state, and that graduation rates for Black students continue to lag behind other students. States were given an overall “equity index” grade based on how well Black students and faculty were represented public institutions. Louisiana’s was the lowest.

    According to Inside Higher Ed’s interview with Shaun Harper, the center’s executive director, said many institutions are “failing Black students.” “I think that this makes painstakingly clear that the failure is systemic. That it’s not just a handful of institutions,” he said, adding that blame around Black students’ shortcomings is often placed on the students, not universities.

    By The Louisiana Budget Project

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    School board selects Kenyetta Nelson-Smith to lead

    The seven-member East Baton Rouge Parish School Board unanimously selected Kenyetta Nelson-Smith Ph.D., as vice-president of the board following the resignation of Rep. Connie Bernard last month. Nelson-Smith has represented District 3 in North Baton Rouge since 2011. She is the assistant professor/program leader of child development at Southern University and an assistant specialist of community and economic development with the Ag Center. She will hold the vice president position through Nov. 6 when she seeks re-election.

     

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    COMMENTARY: Teachers need more community, parental support

    The latest data from the Center for American Progress shows that the average salary for an attorney is more than two times that of elementary and middle school educators. The Washington Post reported last week that nearly 1 in 10 hosts who rent out their apartments, homes and spaces on Airbnb are teachers. Low salaries, compared with other college graduates, may inhibit highly-effective professionals from pursuing a career in education; specifically for people of color who currently make up just seven percent of public school teachers.

    I come from a family of educators. My mother, both of my grandmothers, and one of my sisters were teachers. However, the family tradition of educating children ended after me. None of my daughters, nieces, or nephews decided to pursue a career in education. Data comprised from surveys completed during the NNPA’s National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting echoed this sentiment. When asked what they believed is needed to close the academic achievement gap, respondents selected community participation and funding over the acquisition of highly-effective teachers.

    Many reasons have led to frustrations with teaching in the United States. Work-to-pay ratio, a lack of resources, and an increased focus on standardized testing has made it increasingly difficult for teachers to be highly-effective.

    This year, teacher strikes broke out in several states concerning school funding and teacher pay. Teachers in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia left the classroom for the state house to protest the lack of resources in the profession. NPR reported in April that teachers have begun to seek support outside of the educational bureaucracy; forming “supply shops” where teachers can swap educational materials for free or at a dramatically reduced cost.

    A first-year teacher who attended the National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting in Norfolk, VA, said that she stepped into the role of teaching, initially excited, but found by the end of the year she was extremely drained physically and emotionally. “I stepped into the role, mid-year, with no lesson plan. What can be done to keep teachers teaching and encourage new teachers coming into the program? I really want to teach, but there is very little support.”

    Highly-effective teachers require competitive pay, professional support, and access to innovative resources. President Barack Obama signed the current national education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015 with educators in mind. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA also ends the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores which should reduce the pressure teachers feel to teach to the test. The Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program provides grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures. ESSA became effective this 2018-2019 school year.

    With data compiled from 26 school districts, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) found that on average there were small differences in the effectiveness of teachers of high- and low-income students, hiring patterns and teacher transfer patterns were consistent, with only minor differences, between high- and low-income students, and that in 3 of the 26 chosen districts there was meaningful inequity in access to effective teachers in math. Data showed that access to highly-effective teachers was relatively equal across the board. Yet, inequities in educational outcomes between low-income students and students from wealthier families persist throughout the United States.

    As a new teacher, the constant challenge for me was parental engagement. A working parent’s schedule often left little time during school hours to participate in their child’s education and those who were free during school hours, failed to realize the importance of their presence and participation. Today, meaningful parental engagement remains a challenge for educators.

    So, this is a call to action for all parents. Let’s listen to teachers. They are calling for more support and increased pay. Let’s attend to school meetings to find out how to provide them additional support. Let’s attend city and the state meetings to advocate for competitive pay. Let’s vote for leaders who support the academic advancement of our children through access to additional resources.

    By Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D.

     

    Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D., is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. She is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow her @elizabethprimas.

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    School’s in, drivers need to be vigilant

    The start of a new school year in Louisiana also means drivers need to be vigilant through school zones and around school buses.

    School zone times vary around the state but generally are in effect anytime from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fines for speeding through a school zone can be steep, especially if the driver also is talking, listening or texting on a cell phone.
    “In addition to a fine of up to several hundred dollars for speeding through a school zone, a driver using a cell phone in a school zone also can be fined up to $500,” said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “A driver who engages in multiple violations of cell phone usage in a school zone can further risk a fine of up to $1,000 and be exposed to a driver’s license suspension as well. If a driver is involved in a crash in a school zone while using a cell phone, fines can be doubled.
    “The idea behind stiff fines is to keep our school zones safe, and sometimes it takes a high penalty to make that point,” Freeman noted.
    Freeman also urged drivers to understand the laws regarding when a driver must stop for a bus that is flashing red lights, which indicates it is loading or unloading children.
    • On a two-lane road, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a three-lane road with a center turning lane, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a four-lane road with no median or other physical barrier between the lanes, all vehicles in both directions must stop.
    • On a divided highway with a grass median or other physical barrier, vehicles moving in the same direction as the bus must stop; oncoming traffic should proceed with caution.
    • On a highway that has a center turning lane with two travel lanes on each side, vehicles moving in the same direction as the bus must stop; oncoming traffic should proceed with caution.
    The chart above, courtesy of the state Department of Transportation and Development and Louisiana State Police, is a handy reminder of the school bus laws.
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    Historic Tangipahoa Parish Training School–nation’s first vocational school for Blacks–to be auctioned

    KENTWOOD, La–The Tangipahoa Parish desegregation lawsuit, filed over 51 years ago in the federal courts in New Orleans, has still not been resolved.

    In 1911, the Tangipahoa Parish Training School opened as the first Black training school in the nation. Vocational and industrial education offered students specialized training. The school provided teacher training so that the graduated could staff the Black schools in rural towns throughout the South. The training school was the beginning of secondary public education for Black in South.

    Professor Armstead Mitchell Strange was born in 1884 in Waterproof, Louisiana. He earned his college degree from Alcorn College, where he finished in 1902. Strange came to Tangipahoa Parish via Collins, Mississippi. He came to Kentwood, LA in 1910. Strange joined several local white businesses, and donated money to establish Kentwood Industrial School for Blacks. He raised the money, purchased land, and erected the building, one of which was named for him. The scholastic year 1911-12, marked the beginning of the Training School Movement as far the Slater Fund is concerned. Professor A.M. Strange wrote to Dr. James H. Dillard, general agent for the John F. Slater Fund (a philanthropic fund for the advancement of Negro education), soliciting aid for a Black school that would be located in Kentwood, Louisiana. Professor Strange established Kentwood’s first training school for Blacks.

    O.W. Diillon

    O.W. Diillon

    In 1917, Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon came to Kentwood to take charge of the one-room, one-teacher, two months a year school. That year Dillon received $1,000 from the Brooks Scanlon Lumber Co. and the Natalbany Lumber Co. in order to hire three other teachers and extend the school term to a full nine months for 200 students. In 1919 the school board appropriated $1,000 to construct a two-story, five-classroom building at the school. Another $1,200 was spent to purchase 85 acres adjoining the school.

    Professor Dillon appealed to the local board to buy a machine, and to make cement blocks. After securing the machine he implored Black people in the area to supply labor. They made 40,000 cement blocks, one at a time and erected a building for educating area children.

    According to the genealogy research of Leonard Smith III and local historian Antoinette Harrell, Professor Strange was one of seventeen children born to Tillman and Millie Hunter Strange. His brother Tillman moved to Chicago and became a physician. Professor Strange started other schools and colleges in the South. He helped many young Black students get their education.

    Harrell’s research revealed that the greatest gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performed at the school in the ’60s. Many of the students who attended the school were the children of sharecroppers and farmers who wanted their children to get an education. Having the school auction would create a massive void in the community.

    Deon Johnson, executive director of O.W. Dillon Preservation Organization, attended every meeting to address this situation with the Tangipahoa Parish School Board and hasn’t had much success. “How could they auction off our legacy?” He asked. “Our ancestor worked with the sweat, tears, and blood to build this school,” said Deon.

    Basketball star LeBron James opened the free “I Promise” school in Akon, Ohio. The school offers free uniforms, transportations, access to a food pantry for their family. Professor Strange and Professor Dillon did the same thing in Kentwood. They solicited the support of the community who gave their resources and labor to build the oldest Training School for Blacks in the Nation.

    “Today the school is up for auction and has caused a great deal of pain and heartaches for the African American community,” said  Johnson. “A lot of sweat and hard work built this school,” he said. “Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon and men of the community made the very bricks and mortar to build the school. Please help us to keep this historic school and preserve our legacy.”

    ONLINE: owdillonpreservation.org

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    Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed to deliver LSU Fall Commencement keynote address, Aug. 3

    LSU alumna and Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed will deliver the keynote address at LSU’s summer commencement ceremony on Friday, Aug. 3, in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

    Reed, who received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university, was named the Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education in April. Prior to being named commissioner, Reed served as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. She also served in President Barack Obama’s administration as deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

    “We are proud to welcome alumna Kim Hunter Reed back to campus to speak at commencement, and back to Louisiana to serve as the Commissioner of Higher Education at the Board of Regents,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “Kim has a deep love for and commitment to higher education, and we have no doubt that she will both inspire and motivate our graduates with her message.”

    A Lake Charles native, Reed chaired Louisiana’s higher education transition team in 2015 and served as the state’s policy director. Reed also served as chief of staff and deputy commissioner for public affairs for the Louisiana Board of Regents and executive vice president of the University of Louisiana System.

    Reed received a doctorate in public policy from Southern University, a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from LSU. She has received numerous honors, including LSU Alumna of the Year, Public Administration Institute; and Mom of the Year, Jack and Jill of America, Baton Rouge Chapter. She has been featured in Daughters of Men, a national publication highlighting outstanding African American women and their fathers.

    “I am honored to celebrate the accomplishments of these new LSU graduates at my alma mater, a place that was so integral to my success,” Reed said. “There is nothing more rewarding than joining families and faculty at commencement as we applaud our students hard work and focus on increased talent development in Louisiana.”

    Commencement will begin with the procession at 8:45 a.m., with the graduation ceremony beginning at 9 a.m. There will be no separate diploma ceremonies for August commencement.

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    SU Land-Grant Campus to host Back-to-School Summit, August 3

    Students in 6th – 12th grade are invited to participate in the Southern University Land-Grant Campus’ Back-to-School Summit,  August 3, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    The free event, which is themed “Youth Empowerment and Community Stewardship: Cultivating the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders: Plant, Grow, Nurture, Harvest, Sustain,” in the Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union on the Southern University Baton Rouge campus.

    The summit will feature comedian Tony King, social media sensation Raynell “Supa” Steward and educational workshops on the topics of:

    • Youth Empowerment & Community Stewardship
    • Active Shooter Preparedness
    • DIY Bike Repairs
    • Social Media Safety
    • LYFE
    • No Smoke
    • Exploring Careers in Ag
    • Eating “Gods” Way
    • $mart Snacks
    • Safe Sitter

    Youth will also have an opportunity to visit several vendor booths during the Summit.

    City of Baton Rouge Councilwoman Chauna Banks-Daniels will serve as the keynote speaker for the summit.

    In 2014, the Baton Rouge native created the Jewel J. Newman Community Center (JJNCC) Advisory Board. Under Banks-Daniels leadership, the JJNCC has increased its funding from the City-Parish and has made several building and playground upgrades.

    The center has also been awarded several grants that have been used to improve the quality of life for her constituents.

    Banks-Daniels earned a Master’s degree in Education, Leadership and Counseling and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, both from Southern University. She is also a graduate of the Southern University Laboratory School.

    Youth groups interested in attending the Back-to-School Summit must pre-register by emailing the name of the child(ren), their age(s), parent(s) name, mailing address, phone number and email address to: suagyouthdevelopment@gmail.com.

    The Southern University Ag Center and the SU College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences together are called the Southern University Agricultural Land-Grant Campus.

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  • ,,

    EVENT: Library schedules August activities for all ages

    The following FREE East Baton Rouge Parish Library programs will be held for all ages throughout August. The asterisks indicate which programs require pre-registration.

    Children’s End of Summer Reading Party

    It’s time to par-tay! Kids ages 3-11 are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Wednesday, August 1, to celebrate the end of summer with games, spacewalk, a funny clown, prizes and delicious refreshments for everyone! The party will last about one hour. Registration is required for groups. For more information and to register, call the Main Library Children’s Room at (225) 231-3760.

    Teen Summer Film Camp Premiere

    New Orleans Video Access Center in Baton Rouge (NOVACBR) partnered with your Library during a FREE filmmaking summer camps for teens in grades 6-12! During the camp, students learned the basics of video production including design, storyboarding, production, post-production, effects and more, through the hands-on process of creating a music video under the guidance of an experienced local filmmaker. Final projects from each camp will premiere at the Main Library at Goodwood in the Large Meeting Room at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 2. Family and friends are invited to attend!

     

    Teen End of Summer Reading Parties

    Come enjoy games, prizes, snacks and more when you celebrate the end of summer with other teens at the Library! For more information and to register, call the Library location directly. Check out the remaining schedule below.

    • Noon Wednesday, August 1, Main Library at Goodwood
    • 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 1, River Center Branch
    • 6 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, Zachary Branch

     

    Decluttering is Mind Over Matter with Sarah Cooper

    Local designer and personal organizer Sarah Cooper will be at the Main Library at Goodwood at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11, to offer a FREE seminar for adults on decluttering any space! She’ll share her insights for living a clutter-free life in a uniquely informative presentation that will cover topics like why people clutter their space, and an understanding of the obstacles that hinder getting organized. With robust experience founded in design, Cooper has worked to help people downsize, up-size or simply remodel and repurpose any space. If you’re looking for real tools to help you better organize your home or work spaces don’t miss this interesting and engaging workshop!

     

    Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., (225) 763-2250

    A Porcupine Named Fluffy Story/Craft

    Join other kids ages 3-6 at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 4, for a reading of A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester. After the story, we’ll make a paper plate porcupine craft.

     

    Welcome to Teens!

    Hey teens in grades 6-12! Come to the Teen Room at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 22, and 2 p.m. Saturday, August 25, to see what the Library has just for you. Parents of teens also are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

     

    Epic Graphics Book Club

    Do you like to read comic books or graphic novels, and dislike reading chunky books without pictures? If you said yes, you’ll want to come hang out with other adults ages 18 and older at the Bluebonnet Regional Branch at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 28, for an Epic Graphics Book Club meeting! During our first gathering, we’ll discuss favorite comic book titles, scavenge the Library’s bookshelves and Digital Library for fun graphic novels to read, and then announce a comic book for everyone to read and discuss as a group at the next meeting.

     

    Carver Branch Library, 720 Terrace St., (225) 389-7450

    *Two ACT Practice Exam Sessions for Teens

    Gearing up for college entry? Start strong by completing a FREE simulated practice exam for the American College Test (ACT®) through the Library’s Learning Express resource. Teens are invited to the Carver Branch at 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 7, to experience this full-length practice test and find out what you can expect when you take the official exam. A second session will begin at 1:30 p.m. the same day. The practice covers each of the four categories that appear on the official exam including English, math, reading and science, as well as the same question types, format and time-allotted. Registration is required and limited to eight participants per session.

     

    Home & Personal Safety Informational Session

    Adults and teens ages 16 and up can come to the Carver Branch at 2 p.m. Thursday, August 9, for a FREE home and personal safety informational session led by deputies of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. Come learn how to keep our communities safer!

     

    Fairwood Branch Library, 12910 Old Hammond Hwy., (225) 924-9385

    *Back to School Time Story/Activity

    Children ages 3-7 can get ready for school at the Fairwood Branch! Come to the Library at 4 p.m. Thursday, August 2, to hear readings of What George Forgot by Kathy Wolff and Kindergarten is Cool by Linda E. Marshall. After the story, we’ll take turns completing four activities including fun with shapes, puzzles and more! All children must be accompanied by an adult.

     

    Summertime: The ‘Write’ Time!

    Calling all writers! Join other adults at the Fairwood Branch at 1 p.m. Saturday, August 25, to link up with other writers in the area, get inspired and learn how to craft the perfect page turner.

     

    Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Rd., (225) 274-4450

    *Crumb Snatchers with Author Brandi Worley

    Adults, teens and lovers of a good story about the underdog will want to head over to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 18, for a FREE book talk and podcast with Brandi Worley, author of the Crumb Snatchers series. The LIVE podcast will be hosted by the Blerd-ish podcast duo Keith Cooper and Mark Wallace. Audience silence will be required during the live podcast recording. A question-and-answer period will follow. For more information about author Brandi Worley or the Crumb Snatchers series, visit the website at http://crumbsnatchersbooks.com/.

     

    *Multicultural Flag Drawing

    Have you ever wanted to learn about the world’s flags? Here’s your chance! Come to the Greenwell Springs Road Regional Branch at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 25, to hang out with other kids ages 4-6 and hear facts and history about other places in the world from Flags of the World by Sylvie Bednar. We’ll also take a look at the wordless book Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi, and try to draw some flags of our own.

     

    Jones Creek Regional Branch Library, 6222 Jones Creek Rd., (225) 756-1150

    *Eggplant, Eggplant, Where Are You?

    Adults can join us at the Jones Creek Regional Branch at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11, for a FREE cooking demonstration featuring a variety of eggplant dishes with author and former cooking show host Loretta Duplantis. Attendees also will have the chance to enjoy samples. Door prizes will be awarded!

     

    Kaleidoscope of Quilts: Public Participation Day

    The Sassi Strippers Quilt Guild will be at the Jones Creek Regional Branch from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, August 18, for the Kaleidoscope of Quilts public participation day for all ages! There will be quilting demonstrations, children’s activities, stuffing teddy bears for the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and balloting for favorite quilts. The Guild also will have their quilts on display throughout the branch during August.

     

    Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., (225) 231-3750

    *How to Play Magic: The Gathering

    Lovers of make-believe and method gaming can join other adults and teens ages 14 and up at the Main Library at Goodwood at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 11, for a beginner’s introduction to Magic: The Gathering, a card game that combines strategy and fantasy. We will review the basic rules and play practice hands to help players familiarize themselves with the types of cards and gameplay. This event is geared towards those who are new to the game or need a refresher, and participants will receive a starter deck to learn with, instructions and a box to store decks in.

     

    Tales from the Archives

    Archivist Melissa Eastin will present three stories from Baton Rouge’s past at the Main Library at Goodwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 15. The presentation for adults will cover Baton Rouge’s first and only female sheriff, the touching story of “Sonny Boy”, a care taker who became part of an elderly couple’s family when they needed him most, plus a look into the life of petty criminal Dewey Key, who could never seem to get his life on the right track!

     

    *Job Search Letters 

    You know how to write a résumé, but what about all the other letters involved in a job search? What kind of cover letter will get hiring managers’ attention? What needs to be contained in a thank-you letter after an interview? How can you reach out to a friend and ask for help with your job search? These questions and more will be answered in a FREE seminar for adults in Room 102 at the Main Library at Goodwood at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, August 22. Certified Professional Résumé Writer Lynnette Lee of the Career Center will lead the presentation. Registration is required. To register, visit https://www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

     

    *Dependable Strengths: How to Find & Grow the Best within You 

    If you are ready to take your job, career or life in a new and more fulfilling direction, we want to help! Adults are invited to Room 102 at the Main Library at Goodwood from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, August 25, for a FREE workshop that will aim to help you identify your own unique potential for excellence. Certified facilitator Mike Cragin will teach you ways to discover your strengths and offer help with making a plan to develop them. Registration is required. For more information, call the Career Center at (225) 231-3733. To register, go online to www.careercenterbr.com/events/.

     

    Scotlandville Branch Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy., (225) 354-7550

    Teen Film Club: Marvel Movie Day

    Get ready to take a trip to the African kingdom of Wakanda when you watch this year’s highest-grossing film from Marvel! Teens are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 6, to see this exciting story unfold. After T’Challa, the king of Wakanda rises to the throne, his claim is soon challenged by a ruthless stranger. Enjoy thematic activities while and refeshments while you watch! Refreshments will be served.

     

    After School Anime

    Anime lovers unite! Come to the Scotlandville Branch at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 20, to vote for and watch your favorite anime shows on the Library’s Crunchyroll account. Snacks will be served!

     

    Zachary Branch Library, 1900 Church St., (225) 658-1850

    *The Kissing Hand Story/Craft

    Children ages 4-6 are invited to the Zachary Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 8, to hear a reading of The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Later, each child will cut out their handprints and decorate them with hearts and other craft items. All supplies will be provided.

     

    *Read to Nola: Therapy Dog Reading Buddy

    Handler Tina Morgan and therapy dog Nola will be at the Zachary Branch at 3 p.m. Saturday, August 18, to listen to children read. Dogs are great listeners, don’t interrupt and are fun to be around! Register to meet and read to Nola by calling the Children’s Room at (225) 658-1860.

     


    For more information about or to register for all the programs listed, call the branch where the event is scheduled directly or visit www.ebrpl.com. Can’t visit any of our 14 locations, which are open seven days a week? The Library is open 24 / 7 online at www.ebrpl.com.
     For general information about the Library, call (225) 231-3750

     

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    COMMUNITY EVENT: Virginia College Back to School Event, August 2

    Virginia College in Baton Rouge will host a Back to School Event for the community Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus located at 9501 Cortana Place. The event is free and open to the public and will feature refreshments and candy for kids, a spelling bee, photobooth, campus tours, a scavenger hunt, backpack and school supply giveaways while supplies last and more. Additionally, attendees 18 and older can enter to win gift cards and other prizes.

    The event will also allow attendees to explore programs offered through Virginia College, including: Business Administration, Culinary Arts, Medical Assistant, Medical Office Specialist, Network Support Technician, Network and System Administration, Electrical Technician, HVAC-R Technician, Pastry Arts, Pharmacy Technician and Surgical Technology.

    WHAT: Virginia College Back to School Event
    WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    WHERE: Virginia College in Baton Rouge – 9501 Cortana Place, Baton Rouge, LA 70815
    PHONE: (225) 236-3900

    “With the start of a new school year comes a great deal of excitement and anticipation, promise and possibility,” says Campus President Joe Dalto. “No matter your age or stage of life, we want to celebrate education and the aspirations of all members of our community. We invite everyone to come by our Back to School Event and say hello, and for those interested in pursuing a new career, talk with a member of our staff about the fast and focused career training we offer at our campus.”

    The event is part of Virginia College parent company Education Corporation of America’s national Back to School Events being held at 62 other Virginia College, Brightwood Career Institute and Brightwood College locations throughout 17 states.

    ONLINE: vc.edu/batonrouge.

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    First Louisiana charter school for children with autism opens August 16

    The Emerge School for Autism will welcome its first class of students on August 16, 2018, as the first tuition-free school for children with autism spectrum disorder in the state of Louisiana.

    The school’s mission is to educate students with ASD using therapeutically focused evidence-based strategies grounded in the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and Universal Design for Learning enabling children to reach their full potential and transform their lives.

    The highly integrative curriculum will be tailored to each child’s individual needs and provide special education instruction using ABA, speech-language, and occupational therapy to children to prepare them for future education settings with a functional communication system, improved independence, self-help skills, and essential learner readiness skills. Socio-emotional learning will enhance the academic performance of the students and their ability to integrate into society or back to their home school. Data-driven decision-making will be an integral part of The Emerge School, as the team will collect data daily, and analyze data weekly for each student.

    Since its inception in 1960, The Emerge Center, an independent 501c3, has undergone a natural, organizational evolution into the educational realm in response to community needs. The Emerge Kindergarten began in 2014 and provided academic instruction in alignment with Louisiana Student Standards and was composed of a combination of therapies, including speech-language, occupational, and applied behavior analysis to students ages five to six years of age. It was a BESE-approved, tuition-based program following a traditional school year calendar.

    When Emerge students began transitioning out of the center’s program and into traditional schools settings, students who had been successful within Emerge programs became significantly challenged by new environments, which lacked educational and therapeutic tools they needed to achieve success. In 2016, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation unveiled findings from a study of Autism Spectrum Disorder resources in the Capital Region, in which they found that educational opportunities for children with autism are limited by the small number of private and public school classroom resources, as schools largely often opted out of offering curricula featuring applied behavior analysis.

    In 2017, the Board of Directors and executive leadership of The Emerge Center completed a three-year Strategic Plan to position the non-profit organization for sustainable growth in its services for children with autism and communication challenges. By implementing the strategic plan, Emerge expanded its educational offerings with the creation of The Emerge School for Autism.

    Beginning with twenty children in kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year, The Emerge School plans to serve children ages five to eleven and grow to serve up to 120 students over time. In its first year, the school will operate out of two existing classrooms at The Emerge Center, with plans to identify a larger space to accommodate more students in the future.

    Leigh Bozard is the principal of The Emerge School for Autism.

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    COMMUNITY EVENTS: Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair, August 4

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair is scheduled for Saturday, August 4, 8am – 1pm at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church located at 8742 Scenic Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    There will be a Faith Walk to begin the event at 8am.

    The Health Fair will promote preventive health care services, to bring about awareness to the services that are available and to assist people in making improved health decisions for their family. The fair will also provide healthful information and practices to the Scotlandville Community.

    The Scotlandville Interfaith Community Health Fair will include on site examinations, educational information, blood pressure checks; cancer awareness; cardiovascular-heart healthy tips; immunizations, mental health counseling; diabetes tests and consultation; cholesterol-glucose screening; foot examinations (podiatry); hearing screenings; nutrition consultations; oral health; prescription medication management; vision; and tobacco use dangers. There will be drawings for gift cards and door prizes.

    The Baton Rouge Community is invited to attend.

    Submitted by Mada McDonald

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    Southern University alumni ‘come home’ for biennial conference, July 19-22

    The Southern University Alumni Federation will host its biennial conference July 19-22 in Baton Rouge. The Federation, which includes thousands of members across the nation and aboard, is hosting several events that celebrate tradition, innovation and achievement.

    “This year’s conference is packed with substantive and timely speakers and panel discussions related to Southern University and the surrounding community,” said Preston Castille, Federation president. “We will focus greatly on the University’s new Imagine 20,000 initiative to grow student enrollment, improve our infrastructure, and expand Southern’s footprint in Baton Rouge. We also look forward to showcasing some of the capital city’s fantastic attractions.”

    Activities include campus tours, professional development workshops, the inaugural “40 Under 40” awards ceremony, and the “Circle of Achievement” gala featuring national media personality Roland Martin. Among speakers and facilitators for the three-day conference are Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Board of Regents commissioner.

    ONLINE: www.sualumni.org

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  • ,,

    Southern University System Board approves student fee increases across campuses

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors has approved an increase in student fees. The average increase of 4.95 percent affects Southern University Baton Rouge, Southern University New Orleans, Southern University Shreveport and the Southern University Law Center.

    “The Southern University System’s core mission is to provide an accessible, affordable and dynamic educational experience to all students,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president on July 5. “While we recently celebrated the Legislature’s passage of a standstill budget — not to be confused with full funding —  for higher education, this budget does not take into account mandated costs and the formula put forth by the state Board of Regents. Without an increase, which is our last resort, the System’s ability to advance its scope and mission would be severely compromised.”

    Belton cited the more than $40 million decline in state funding the Southern University System has experienced over the past 10 years. The per-semester fee increases for full-time students result from House Bill 113 (Act 293) of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session. Each campus will allocate not less than 5 percent of the revenues realized from these fees to need-based financial assistance to students of eligible to receive a Pell Grant. Fees at the flagship Baton Rouge campus will increase by $217 for undergraduate students and $250 for graduate students; at New Orleans $169 for undergraduate students and $209 for graduate students; at Shreveport $100; and $393 at the Law Center. 

    The additional funds generated from this increase will be used to assist with situations such as offsetting the cost of unfunded mandates, operational costs and the 2018-2019 budget reduction resulting from formula implementation. The System encourages those in need of financial assistance to examine and apply for scholarships and grants through the Southern University System Foundation.

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  • ,

    Embattled School Board Member Mike Whitlow will not seek a second term

    Mike Whitlow came under fire a few months ago from the Tangipahoa Black community after he posted a story on his Facebook page that included a screen shot of a hangman’s noose.

    Whitlow posted this on Facebook,”It has been a pleasure serving the citizens of District F on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. I want thank my constituents for the confidence placed in me to help improve our school system to ensure our children’s future. I will serve out my current term which ends on Dec. 31 of this year and will not seek reelection on Nov. 6. My plan is to fully retire to spend more quality time with my wife, family and friends.”

    Fellow School Board Member Tom Tolar posted,”I want to thank Mike Whitlow for his service on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board. He has endured more than his share of hatred, but he has never stopped working to improve our schools..This is a hard job, and it takes a toll on you. As the only board member north of Amite, I feel the pressure to advocate for our local schools. I will continue to fight with all my might to represent our local schools and I look forward to seeing what is in store for us under our new superintendents leadership. We work for you!!”

    School Board Vice-President Sandra Simmons posted, “It is sad to see you leave but l understand you wanting to spend more time with your loved ones. You have served faithfully, wisely and sincerely.”

    The election for all 9 school board members is set for November 6. Candidates will qualify in a few weeks on July 18-20.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Changes coming for 5 Hammond, Independence schools

    A revised student assignment plan is expected to go into effect for students in the Hammond and Independence schools, just in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

    The Tangipahoa Parish School Board on Wednesday filed a joint motion with plaintiff’s counsel, at the recommendation of Court Compliance Officer Donald Massey, in the longstanding Joyce Marie Moore federal desegregation lawsuit to modify the student assignment plan which went into effect with the start of the 2016-17 school year. Although the federal court document system does not indicate any judicial action has been recorded beyond the filing of the motion, the school system appears to be preparing a “Plan A” and “Plan B” for the five schools that will be impacted by these changes, which will start this August.

    Proposed to “address and resolve certain issues in the Hammond attendance zone,” the newly-modified student assignment plan will also “combine” the current Independence Magnet and Independence Leadership Academy school zones into a single attendance zone, reinstating the traditional grade configurations at those schools. Independence Leadership Academy would house pre-K through 4th grade students while Independence Magnet will enroll students in grades 5-8. The modified plan would allow Independence Magnet to remain a communications magnet school.

    If the newest version of the modified plan is approved by Judge Ivan Lemelle, there would be significantly more changes in store for three Hammond schools (Woodland Park Magnet, Greenville Park Leadership Academy, and Hammond Eastside Magnet) starting this upcoming 2018-19 school year:

    *New principals would be assigned at the Greenville Park and Woodland Park schools. By federal court order, those principals would likely be laterally-transferred from other TPSS schools or from the Central Office itself, and the individuals selected would be required to hold proper administration certificates, have previous experience as school principals, and “have a proven record of effectiveness in all areas of school administration.” The new appointees will be compensated according to the district salary schedule but granted a $10,000 annual stipend above and beyond their compensation package to be paid “semi-annually for as long as the principal remains at GPLA or WPM.”

    *Woodland Park and Greenville Park will change their grade configurations. For the 2018-19 school year, Greenville Park will remain a pre-K to 8th grade campus, but Woodland Park will serve students in grades pre-K to 6 only. 7th and 8th grade students who were previously assigned to the Woodland Park zone will automatically transfer to Hammond Eastside for the upcoming school year.

    *School choice transfers will be offered for Woodland Park 7th and 8th graders who do not want to go to Hammond Eastside. Woodland Park parents who do not want to send their 7th or 8th grader to Hammond Eastside will be able to utilize a “school choice transfer” to send their students to Greenville Park, but they must file a transfer application before July 19, 2018, to make that happen. Any Woodland Park 7th or 8th grade student who does not have a school option transfer application on file by July 19 will be sent to Hammond Eastside for the 2018-19 school year.

    *Reconstituted faculties: In 2018-19, the new leadership teams at Woodland Park and Greenville Park will “be given the opportunity to select their administrative teams and will be allowed first pick in filling any uncertified positions with certified teachers who wish to transfer from other schools or from the list of newly certified teacher applicants.” The faculty and leadership teams at these two schools will receive a $3,000 stipend on top of their compensation package, and that stipend will remain in effect, paid semi-annually, for as long as those teachers remain at the schools.

    *Woodland Park and Greenville Park will remain magnet schools, but the schools will receive additional funding for student activities. Woodland Park continues as a communications magnet school and Greenville Park will remain a STEM school. Greenville Park will continue to implement Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) with the current payout formula remaining in place.The district will offer additional instructional resources for both schools, including an extra $25,000 added to their school activity funds for this year and an additional $15,000 for school activity funds in future years.

    *Other enhancements for 2018-19 school year:
    -Greenville Park and Woodland Park will also begin offering Spanish effective this upcoming school year and will continue to do so moving forward.
    -Greenville Park will also receive support from the district’s science resource teacher at least once a week to work with science teachers and their STEM specialist to improve the school’s implementation of STEM.
    -Starting in October, 2018, Central Office staff will begin meeting monthly with the leadership of Woodland Park and Greenville Park to discuss progress at their schools, address additional resources that may be necessary, and to tweak any potential modifications to the student assignment plan that may be included for the 2019-2020 school year.

    *Priority admissions: With regard to early childhood education, African American students from the Woodland Park attendance zone and specifically students in the Magazine Street, M.C. Moore Street, and Martin Luther King Street areas of Hammond will also be given priority admission for up to one-third of the total early childhood program enrollment in Hammond Eastside’s pre-K program. The court order specifies “pre-K classes at Hammond Eastside Magnet School shall be racially diverse.”

    Moving into 2019-2020, the plan calls for even greater improvements in the Hammond school district:
    *Reconstituted schools: In 2019-20, Woodland Park and Greenville Park students will be assigned to the same school zone. Students in grades pre-K to 3 will attend Woodland Park while students in grades 4-8 will attend Greenville Park. Woodland Park 7th students who transferred to Hammond Eastside for 2018-19 will have the option to remain at Hammond Eastside for their 8th grade year or transfer to Greenville Park.

    In addition to these changes at the five elementary schools, the modified plan calls for enhanced professional development for all teachers, and that training will offer emphasis on cultural diversity and equity. The first phase of professional development will be completed before May 1, 2019, with follow-up and ongoing professional development offered to all system employees. Phase two will include all teachers and support staff, with a goal of completing that training no later than December of 2019. At that point, cultural diversity training and equity training will be offered annually to all TPSS employees.

    Action 17 News

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  • SU System Board meets June 22

    The Southern University System Board of Supervisors will hold its regular meeting Friday, June 22 at 9 a.m., in the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work Auditorium on the campus of Southern University New Orleans (6400 Press Dr.).

    The agenda and other documents can be found at:http://www.sus.edu/page/su-board-current-month-packet.

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  • ,,

    DrumCall: Our history is not something can just be cast aside.

    Black history, our history, matters. Yet the College Board, the massive non-profit that administers Advanced Placement (AP) classes, is in the process of removing Black and Brown history from their AP World History course – a course taken by millions of students every year.1

    Under new changes announced by the College Board, the AP World History course will no longer cover material prior to 1450—approximately the beginning of European colonialism. This alteration effectively erases the pre-colonial history of people of color from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. Instead of being one of the few opportunities for students across the country to learn about diverse histories and perspectives, the course will now reinforce the false centrality of white European colonialism in history.

    Our history is not something can just be cast aside. But because of mounting pressure from students and teachers across the country to challenge the College Board’s decision we have a chance to make sure that it is not. The College Board has stated they are willing to reexamine their decision, but have not committed to any concrete changes, so we need to push for a full reinstatement of this content and a commitment to promote Black and Brown histories throughout their AP courses.

    Save Black history. Tell the College Board to keep Black history in their courses.

    These changes to the AP World History course matter. We live in a country where the people in power tell Black and Brown students every day that their history and their lives don’t matter.2 A just history curriculum may be the only place where these students are exposed to histories beyond that of white Europeans.

    In the past couple of years we’ve seen sustained efforts to erase Black and Brown histories from school curriculum. In Texas, the state school board pushed to downplay slavery as a cause of the Civil War and minimize the racial segregation of the Jim Crow era. Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill got caught calling African slaves “immigrants” and “workers.”3 Earlier this year, it was revealed that a far-right Koch Brothers backed group is offering free curriculum to budget strapped teachers, offering a revisionist version of slavery that paints it as a necessary evil to further freedom and democracy.4 And just this week, Michigan announced a proposed curriculum change that would eliminate references to the NAACP, scale down the importance of the civil rights movement and eliminate mentions of gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and climate change.5

    Our history is under constant attack, but because the College Board’s AP World History course is taught in thousands of schools to millions of students every year, the College Board plays a powerful role in setting de facto curriculum standards for all high school students. With this power, the College Board has the responsibility to ensure that students everywhere are exposed to histories beyond that of colonial Europeans and understand that the histories of Black and Brown people did not start when European colonists arrived in their lands.

    Demand the College Board keep Black and Brown histories in their AP World History course.

    What’s particularly cruel about the College Board’s decision to cut Black and Brown history from their AP course curriculum is that they are using it as an opportunity to push teachers to pay for their new and expensive “pre-AP courses” by offering to put the Black and Brown histories they removed into that course instead. But unlike the free curriculum for AP courses, pre-AP courses cost schools thousands of dollars a year effectively putting this content out of reach for most students.6

    All too often, the rich pre-colonial history of Africa, Asia, Americas and the Middle East is either erased or merely left as a footnote. For students of color, who rarely see themselves represented in high school courses, this erasure tells them that they do not matter. The College Board says that they are “dedicated to equity in education.” If they are dedicated to equitable education, then they must not play a role in erasing Black and Brown histories.

    Save Black history. Tell the College Board to keep Black history in their courses.

    Until justice is real, 

    –Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Jade, Evan, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Saréya, Eesha, Angela, Sam and the rest of the Color Of Change team

     References:

    “AP World History gets a makeover, and high school teachers rebel,” Politico, 11 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59248?t=9&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Donald Trump Says ‘Our Ancestors Tamed a Continent’ and ‘We Are Not Going to Apologize for America’,” Newsweek, 25 May 2018 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/59249?t=11&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Texas textbook calling slaves ‘immigrants’ to be changed, after mom’s complaint,” LA Times, 5 October 2015 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/59250?t=13&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Millions of Students Are Quietly Being Taught the Koch Brothers’ Whitewashed Version of Black History,” The Root, 14 March 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59251?t=15&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Proposed Michigan social studies standards erase references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and KKK ,” DetroitMetro Times, 12 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59252?t=17&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2
    “Teachers Fight To Keep Pre-Colonial World History In AP Course,” Colorlines, 12 June 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/59253?t=19&akid=14668%2E2802358%2EPexbd2

    Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

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  • ,,,

    Who to Watch: Dawn C. Collins

    Dawn C. Collins is an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member and community advocate. The Lee High School graduate and Baton Rouge native, is a governor’s appointee to the East Baton Rouge Parish Board of Elections Supervisors. She began her professional career at Louisiana Department of Health where she was responsible for program-related data management. A grassroots organizer, Collins, who is 42, gives data-driven strategic consultation to campaigns and handles government affairs and training programs for non-profit organizations.

    Moves made from 2015 to 2017:    Was elected to public service on the East Baton Rouge School Board, District 4, on March 6,2016.

    What to expect in 2018 from you: I will be fighting for teacher and support staff pay raises in order to retain and attract the best educators for our children. Several community-wide events are on the horizon that will not only galvanize support for schools but help develop a sense of togetherness on this side of North Baton Rouge.  We have tremendous community assets, and we should celebrate them.

    Personal resolution:  Seize the Day.

    Life/business motto: Integrity. PERIOD.

    Business resolution: Uplift community.

    What is your #1 priority right now? Getting re-elected to School Board so that I can keep fighting for progress in our schools.

    Best advice you’ve ever received? Breathe

    Role Models: My humble mother, Yolanda Castle Chanet; State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith; and political guru, Ben Jeffers

    What has been a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?  A very bad experience when my children were in elementary school compelled me to be an education advocate.

    What music are you listening/dancing to? “Best of Me” by Anthony Hamilton and “Really Love” by De’Angelo

    What are you reading? “The Originals” by Adam Grant

    What’s entertaining you? “Queen Sugar” – The depth of each character is amazing, plus I absolutely love Violet and Hollywood›s relationship. Also, Netflix’s “Black Mirror” – It’s so on point in so many ways.

    Website: DawnChanetCollins.com

    Social media: facebook.com/littleorganizerthatcould

    @DDCollins76 on both Twitter and Instagram ℜ

    Read more »
  • ,,,,,

    Southern University wins in NIS national oral and poster competitions

    Southern University and A&M College was well represented by 30 undergraduate and 5 graduate students who participated in the 75th Joint Annual Meeting of the National Institute of Science and Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honors Society, in Washington, DC.   This scientific conference, hosted by the University of the District of Columbia, aimed to provide young scientists the opportunity to disseminate their research findings and to network with students and peers of like minds.   This Diamond Anniversary Year represents the 75th one for the joint annual meetings of Beta Kappa Chi (BKX) and the National Institute of Science (NIS). Southern University students won several awards at the conference.

    Oral Presentations

    Irene Lewis   1st Place Agricultural Sciences undergraduate

    Kirstin Brooks 2nd Place Psychology undergraduate

    Gagandeep Kaur 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Poster Presentations

    Prathusha Bagam 1st Place Environmental Tox. graduate

    Demario Vallier 2nd Place Poster Biology graduate

    Students and faculty were elected to national offices as well.  Deadra James Mackie was elected as national executive secretary for the 18th year, student officer, Joenique Woods, was unanimously chosen as the Southcentral Regional Vice President for Beta Kappa Chi and secretary for the National Institute of Science.  Honors student, Ikea McKay, was elected president of the National Institute of Science and Darrell Harry was chosen as student secretary for Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and Treasure for the National Institute of Sciences.  As expected, the Jaguar nation made an indelible mark on the conference.

    Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society was founded in Lincoln, Pennsylvania in 1921, and chartered in 1923.  BKX is a member of the certifying body, the National Association of College Honor Societies (www.achsnatl.org).

    Travel to this endeavor would not have been possible were it not for the financial support of the Dolores Margaret Richard Spikes Honors College and the Timbuktu Academy, both led by Diola Bagayoko, Ph.D., the Southern University Foundation, through the Office of Robert Easley, the College of Sciences and Engineering dean Patrick Carriere,Ph.D., and the Department of Biological Sciences.  Collective contributions from these units allowed the students to have scholarly and professional experiences. The students’ advisors were Eric Pugh, Deidra Atkins-Ball, Phyllis Okwan, and Deadra James Mackie. Bagayoko said “the Jaguar Nation is very proud of them for their intellectual and leadership accomplishments.”

     

    Pictured: (first row) Deadra J. Mackie, Dr. Deidra Atkins-Ball, Paige Mitchell, Wes Washington, Joenique Woods, Ashley Lewis, Irene Lewis, Eric Pugh, Chloe Washington, Tiara Johnson, Dr. Phyllis Okwan and Brandon Parker; (Second row) Terani Dillahunty, Kirstin Brooks, Kelvin Wells, Jacara Glover, Jonathan Sumbler, Ikea McKay Naila McCraney, Darrell Harry, Demario Vallier and Edgar Perez

     

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    AT&T Louisiana donation supports future coders in Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program

    Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced that AT&T Louisiana has contributed $40,000 to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program as part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s philanthropic initiative which drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond.

    The contribution supports a four-week coding and web development course conducted by The Future’s Fund as a part of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The program will employ 250 young people and 50 of those students will participate in entrepreneurship, technology, and software development courses. This project-based learning environment promotes innovation and creativity to foster skills to meet the needs of the future workforce.

    “I’m grateful for AT&T’s continued dedication to improving access to educational opportunities through this generous contribution,” said Broome. “These STEM-based courses will give students a boost in learning more about the potential career opportunities ahead of them.”

    Sonia Perez, President of AT&T Louisiana, said, “Supporting education and workforce development efforts through contributions like this one to the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and the coding course conducted through the Future’s Fund is another important way that AT&T Louisiana puts a high priority on growing the economy of the future for the people of Louisiana.”

    AT&T invests in education and job training to create a skilled and diverse workforce that powers our company – and our country – for the future. Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, AT&T helps provide access to education and training people need to get and keep good jobs. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $400 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world. AT&T Aspire brings together the power of our network – our employees, our technology and organizations – to connect people to opportunities through education and job training.

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  • ,,

    SU Commencement speaker wants graduates to ‘be the change’

    “Will your degree serve you or will you use your degree to serve others.”

    Angela Rye, political commentator and social activist, was the keynote speaker for the Spring 2018 Commencement Exercises at Southern University, Friday, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. More than 650 candidates earned degrees.

    “My responsibility to you today is Truth,” said Rye, who can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC, and TV One. “My responsibility to you today is ensuring you are adequately equipped to survive in a 2018 America. And in the America we create together for the future.”
    web KaylaClancy13
    The political strategist went on to convey that she had a message for the graduates. Her message was to “wake them up” before they become bogged down by society’s obstacles.

    “We cannot keep talking about the problems, and not playing our respective parts to change them.”

    “Be the change. Be courageous. Be bold, like your lives, our lives, depend on it because they do.”

    “Create the community you know we can be. Create the country you deserve to see. Create the world in which you want to live.”

    With smiling faces and teary eyes, the candidates soaked up their final moments. As names were called, family and friends burst into excitement with screams, laughter, and sentiments. 

    _5118024

    The ceremony was presided by Ray L. Belton, president-chancellor of the Southern University System, and James Ammons, executive vice president/executive vice chancellor.

    The spring 2018 chief student marshal was Chicago native, Kayla Clancy. She graduated with a degree in psychology and a cumulative grade point average. 

    Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the commencement. The top grad plans onattending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling.

    The SUBR spring graduating class included 419 undergraduate candidates and 198 graduate candidates. The class had 137 honor graduates, (one summa cum laude, eight magna cum laude, 27 cum laude, and 101 honorable mention).

    Along with the class, the university commissioned three Army and three Navy officers.

    The Golden Class of 1968 was celebrated and donned gold robes. More than 30 members represented the class and were ecstatic to be included in this momentous occasion. 

    Southern also awarded a doctor of humane letters to civil rights attorney Johnnie A. Jones Sr.

    Encouraging support system leads to Chicago native to become SU top grad

    “Hard-working” and “high-achieving” are adjectives that are not new to Kayla Clancy. Through her strong support system, she has been pushed outside of her comfort zone in order to accomplish great things, especially being chosen chief student marshal for the 2018 Southern University Spring Commencement.

    “Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my support system. My mother has been my backbone through it all,” says the psychology major who will lead more than 700 grads during spring commencement, May 11, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center. “Since losing my father at the age of nine, my mother was all that I had and she has truly been everything to me and more.”

    Clancy’s support team not only included her family, but mentors that made sure that she was headed for greatness. When choosing her next steps, Grambling State University was top on her list until a mentor, Frances Thibodeaux-Fox, told her to keep her options open and continue to research Southern University. Through constant communications with SU admissions representatives and being awarded a scholarship through the SU Alumni Federation Chicago Chapter, she chose to continue her next steps at Southern University in the fall of 2014.

    After coming to Baton Rouge, Clancy made herself at home and found support within friends and professors, such Reginald Rackley, a Southern University psychology professor, and Mark Gaines, a personal friend. They pushed her “outside of [her] comfort zones showing [her] that being uncomfortable promotes true growth.”

    This advice proved true for the top grad as she devoted herself to her studies and involving herself in extracurricular activities. She held various offices within Psi Chi: International Honor Society in Psychology, Collegiate 100 Black Women of Southern University, and the Beta Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. To prepare her for her future career, she participated as a research assistant in a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research internship at University of Chicago during the summer of 2017.

    Looking back on her college journey, she is proud of the woman she has become. Being chosen as the chief student marshal was an accomplishment that was unexpected.

    “More than anything, I am truly honored. I didn’t think that I would be granted this opportunity, but I’m blessed to say that I am here,” she said. “I owe this to God because without him I am nothing and would not be here. I tell my little sisters all the time that everything I do is for them because I want them to see that the sky is the limit. So, for me, this large achievement is, also, for my little sisters,” says Clancy.

    As she prepares for her final exit, she feels her future is full of bright possibilities. In the fall, Clancy will be attending Louisiana State University to work towards a master of education in clinical mental health counseling. Also, to honor her father’s memory and assist students with having higher education resources, she has decided to start a scholarship in his name at his alma mater in Chicago.

    By Jasmine Hunter
    Special to The Drum

    Read more »
  • ,,

    High schoolers meet Chief Justice for Law Day

    Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson hosted students from L.B. Landry-O.P. Walker College and Career Preparatory High School, and McDonogh 35 Senior High School at the Louisiana Supreme Court building in observance of Law Day, a national day set aside annually to celebrate the rule of law. Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom, was the theme for the 60th observance of Law Day.

    Established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower who was motivated to highlight the American governmental system, the Constitution and the inherent freedoms it subscribes to, Law Day is celebrated annually on May 1.

    Nearly 70 students sat in on oral arguments before the Supreme Court on May 1. Immediately after, law clerks fielded questions from the teens regarding the case. They also toured the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and Law Library of Louisiana, which featured new displays on the three branches of government, and some had an audience with the Chief Justice.

    Chef Johnson“The theme of the day is very timely,” said Johnson. “Citizens of the United States are more in tune with what is happening in America with regard to government, policy and law-making than any other time in history. The Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom encapsulates the U.S. government model that compartmentalizes the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Each branch has distinct responsibilities to maintain a balance of power, and underscores the mantra– no one is above the law,” said Johnson.

    The American Bar Association declares the Law Day theme annually. Law Day activities are planned to encourage Americans to reacquaint themselves with the Constitution, to encourage careers in the legal profession and government buildings are encouraged to raise the American flag.

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    Kedric Taylor announced as interim director of Southern University ‘Human Jukebox’ Band

    Southern University President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton today announced Kedric Taylor, associate director of bands, as interim director of bands. Lawrence Jackson, a former director of bands, will serve as a consultant to the band department and University administration on matters regarding band operations.

    Taylor, a Southern alumnus, participated in the Southern University Marching Band (“Human Jukebox”) for four years while he was a student. He has worked with the band department since 2014.

    A native of Mobile, Alabama, Taylor previously served as head director of the Baker High School band and as a teacher in Jackson, Louisiana. In his role as associate director of bands at Southern, Taylor has been responsible for music arrangement, band rehearsals, as well as directing the saxophone and wind ensembles.

    Taylor also has served as an adjudicator for numerous “battle of the bands” competitions and as a guest clinician for districts in the southern region. In addition, he is director of bands for the Louisiana Leadership Institute, which consists of high school students from around the state.

    Taylor, who is an instructor in the College of Arts, Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies at Southern, holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern and a master’s degree from North Central University. He has also studied at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago.

    Southern’s administration is currently in the process of launching a formal search for a permanent director of bands.

    Read more »
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    Alumni host annual crawfish boil, music festival, May 5

    The Southern University Alumni Federation Home Chapter is hosting its 6th Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival on Saturday, May 5 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at BREC’s Greenwood Community Park in Baker.

    Guests will enjoy boiled crawfish or fried catfish, a live performance by Stephanie McDee, games for the kids, vendors, a Stroll-off, a Cook-off and the Southern University Human Jukebox band.  The park also features a hiking trail and splash pad.

    “I’m so excited to give our alumni, friends, and supporters another great opportunity to come together, eat some great food and support our great university,” said Home Chapter President Cortny Jarrell.

    Proceeds will help fund scholarships and alumni recruitment. Early bird tickets are $25 per person until May 2. After May 2, tickets are $35 per person.

    To purchase tickets, go to www.suhomechapter.com or call (225) 443-2167.

    Read more »
  • ,,

    Not sure what’s on the April 28th ballot for East Baton Rouge Parish school tax renewal

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 1 of 3 – 0.51% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in funding repairs and renovations, enhancing technology and construction of new classrooms and schools in the public school system in East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of fifty-one hundredths of one percent (0.51%) (the “Tax”) (an estimated $43,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District, (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.46% and July 1, 2020 for 0.05%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 2 of 3 – 0.08% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in improving the educational environment in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System by improving discipline, providing alternative education and reducing truancy in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of eight hundredths of one percent (0.08%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $6,900,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective dates (July 1, 2019 for 0.07% and July 1, 2020 for 0.01%), with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Educational Facilities Improv. Dist. Prop. 3 of 3 – 0.41% S&U Tax Renewal – BOD – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)

    NOTICE: This ballot item is in only part of this precinct; depending on your address, you might not be eligible to vote on this item. If you need further information, contact your Registrar of Voters.

    To assist the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board (the “Board”) in increasing compensation of teachers and other school system employees in the East Baton Rouge Parish Educational Facilities Improvement District, Louisiana (the “District”), as set forth in and subject to “A Plan to Improve Facilities/Technology, Discipline and Compensation in the East Baton Rouge School System” approved by the Board as revised on February 22, 2018, shall the District be authorized to continue to levy and collect a tax of forty-one hundredths of one percent (0.41%) (the ”Tax”) (an estimated $35,300,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year) upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption of tangible personal property and on sales of services in the District (excepting food and prescription drugs), for a period of ten (10) years from the Tax’s effective date of April 1, 2019, with Tax proceeds (after paying costs of collection and administration) to be dedicated for the above purposes?

    YES
    NO

    Capitol High School EBR Tax Opposition

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    SU, BRCC sign articulation agreement for STEM students

    Officials from Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University and A&M College signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the agreement between the schools to facilitate the articulation of coursework and to provide a seamless transfer of BRCC Associate of Science students into the SUBR College of Sciences and Engineering to earn a Bachelor of Science.

    The agreement, which is effective immediately, was signed by Dr. Ray Belton, President/Chancellor SU System; Dr. Larissa Littleton-Steib, Chancellor BRCC; Dr. James Ammons, Executive Vice President/Executive Vice Chancellor, SUBR; Dr. Toni Manogin, Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, BRCC; Dr. Patrick Carriere, Dean of College of Sciences and Engineering, SUBR; and Ms. Laura Younger. Dean of STEM Division, BRCC.

    “We are excited to build upon our current partnership with Southern University to continuously enrich our students’ transfer and workforce opportunities,” said BRCC Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib. “This agreement will not only allow a seamless transfer for our students pursuing bachelor degrees in STEM-related fields, but it will also encourage future students to consider the endless opportunities available to them by starting their college careers at Baton Rouge Community College. We are grateful to the Southern University System for this partnership.”

    “This agreement between two of the leading institutions of higher learning in the state is another step in expanding our offerings in STEM,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “This new program will allow a greater number of students to seamlessly matriculate and obtain their bachelor’s degrees right here in Baton Rouge. We look forward to their success and another great partnership with BRCC.”

    Under the agreement, BRCC students who receive the Associate of Science degree in Computer Science or General Science following the prescribed coursework and declaration of intent to pursue the Bachelor of Science in the College of Sciences and Engineering at SUBR, will be admitted to SUBR as a junior upon successful completion of the BRCC AS degree with an overall GPA of 2.0 on all work attempted. 

    Read more »
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    Angela Rye to speak at Southern University Spring Commencement

    Political commentator and social activist Angela Rye will be the speaker for Southern University’s spring commencement. The ceremony will be held in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on May 11 at 10 a.m.

    A prominent strategist, Rye can be seen regularly on several media outlets including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC and TV One. She has also been featured in publications such as Marie Claire, Ebony and the Washington Post. Her dialogue from political campaigns to legislation and administration policies that have long-term implications nationally and internationally.

    Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Rye says she learned the importance of advocacy through her family’s political and community activism. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law.

    Rye is principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. Her past appointments include serving as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. In this role, Rye was tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the Caucus. Prior to working for the CBC, she served as senior adviser and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Upon moving to Washington, Rye co-founded IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.

    Rye serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee (CBCPAC), the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, Inclusv, and Wilberforce University. She is a member of The Links Inc., National Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Washington Government Relations Group.

    Read more »
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    Halfmann delivers courageous account of a slave teacher’s legacy

    Steal away, children.
    Hide, sneak, and risk your life to learn to read under the dark cloak of midnight.
    This was a dangerous feat for a courageous people and an unrelenting teacher. It is the story many people have heard passed from grandparent to grandchild for generations. Thanks to Janet Halfmann, London Ladd, and Lee & Low Books, there is at least one narration that has been validated in the pages of “Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School.” This historical, beautifully illustrate children’s book on Lilly Ann Granderson’s life gives a wide-eyed account of the effort, fears, and successes slaves underwent to be educated. Granderson’s passion to teach takes the reader through an abandoned cabin at midnight to the fearful moment where she is caught teaching by the slave patrol. She and her students face a charge of severe whippings or death. Halfmann pens the perfect record of Granderson’s phenomenal legacy from educating slaves to graduating students at the Natchez Seminary (now Jackson State University) and influencing generations, especially her own family’s who were the first to graduate from Spelman Seminary (now Spelman College). “Midnight Teacher” is a gift with clear storytelling of a heroic educator. #JSBookandBrew

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    COMMENTARY: Preparing Parents for the ACT

    Standardized tests give many students the heebie jeebies, especially tests that are known by three letters and determines many factors about life after high school.  I’m talking about the ACT and the SAT. As a an academic and college coach, I either have to help students reduce their anxiety about these tests or light a fire beneath them.  My true preference is to have students in the middle of these extremes. Students should have a healthy respect for these tests. They should not feel that their intellectual identity is reflected in the scores they make.  However, they should not take it lightly either.

    While it has been nearly 17 years since I have had to prepared for the ACT, the test has changed very little.  My test preparation was trial and error over the course of my high school career. My family did not have the resources to take a full course by the top test preparation companies. And, neither one of them attended college so these tests were foreign to them, which means they could offer minimal help.  So, I purchased a $25 test prep book and went at it on my own for about two hours during the week and five hours on the weekend. I religiously did this from my sophomore year to my senior year. My score was enough to give me a competitive edge for scholarships and awards.

    Throughout the years, I realized that my study methods, nor the result, were a common practice or experience. I really wanted  to empower students to conquer the ACT regardless of the hand life has dealt. I began to offer workshops and personal coaching services. While the students benefited the most from the information, parents were comforted knowing that they were able to provide support for their child.  Here are the top 6 tips that I always provide families embarking on their journey of test preparation.

    1. Start early. A majority of the ACT is based on skills learned in 7th – 10th grade.  Most students wait until junior or senior year to take the test. By then, they have forgotten most of the concepts, especially in math.  Arrange for your child to take the test in their spring of their 9th grade year.

    2. Take the ACT often to decrease anxiety. Taking the ACT is like any other performance activity.  The more students practice in real conditions the more comfortable they will be when it counts. Also taking the ACT frequently can help students recognize patterns of questions that will help them streamline their study strategy. Taking the test one or two times raises the stakes for students and causes pressure, which in turns breeds fear and anxiety.  Start with taking the test once a year during 9th and 10th grade years. Increase attempts to two times in the fall and spring during their junior year. Seniors should take the test as many times as possible until the desired score is reached. Taking practice tests at home under similar testing conditions is also useful.

    3. Dedicate special study time. Slow, consistent and steady wins this standardize test race.  Starting ACT prep as early as the 9th grade prevents cramming which leads to anxiety. Help your student set aside quiet time that is dedicated to practice.  Schedule a few, intense, short study sessions (30 – 50 minutes) per week during the academic year. Increase the frequency during the summer to prevent summer melt.

    4. Divide and conquer.  The ACT is perceived to test students on everything they have learned. This is a myth that paralyzes students with stress.  There are a set number of skills and concepts that the ACT focuses on. You can find a complete list of topics on act.org and in most preparation books.  Devise a strategy to attack the content and create a schedule to cycle through content. Use scores on official and practice tests to determine weaker areas.  The ACT administration can provide students with their actually answers along with the answer key for an additional fee. Paying the additional fee may be worth the cost, as students can gain valuable wisdom and insight into own their testing habits. I often find students getting wrong answers because of 2nd guessing, simple mathematical mistakes, or misunderstanding the question and not because they could not answer the problem.

    5. Invest in affordable resources. There are many free and low-cost resources available to aid students in their preparations.  A test prep book is an essential resource. However, they are not all the same. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure the book has a diagnostic test, at least two additional practice tests, and skill building sections where students can refresh on concepts. Another type of prep book is a workbook that walks students through specific content in-depth.  Workbooks allow students to become their own tutor and interact with the material. There are some preparation books that are just a series of practice tests. These types of book offer very little help on individual concepts, however they offer great information on how to eliminate the wrong answer and attack common questions. Lastly, there are also books that just provide tips and strategies.  Besides books, you can also find flash cards, mobile apps, and email subscriptions. ACT.org has free and paid practice material. Sites like Kahn Academy and YouTube have free videos that help students work through particular problems and concepts.

    1. Talk positive.  Words, positive or negative, can impact a student’s mindset and mindset has the greatest impact on performance.  I often hear parents say, “She’s not good with tests.” “He’s never been good in math.” I see the result when students are in front me in a workshop.  Students give less than 100% effort while saying, “I don’t remember this or “I could never get this.” When students think they are already defeated, they won’t commit the time or effort into improving. This is known as a fixed mindset.  Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their talents, traits or performance can never improve. Those with a growth mindset Parents can help shift students’ mindset from fixed to growth by calling attention to their hard work, quality time dedication and their persistence. Parents should recognize small improvements no matter if it is getting one practice problem correct or improving their score on the official test. Focusing less on skills or ability and more on effort and strategy can help your student improve their performance on the ACT as well as get them in the college mind frame.

    While I am a part-time college coach, I am also a full-time higher education administrator who works to improve the number of students who complete college.  Understanding the full picture from admissions to graduation, I know that grades and scores are shallow predictors of success especially for minority students.  There are plenty of smart students who are college drop-outs. Those who persist to the end are the ones who take advantage of resources, practice self-management, confidently face challenges, acknowledges their weaknesses and appreciates learning. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that I give these same tips to parents during freshman orientation on how to help their child succeed in college.  How a student prepares for the ACT can give more insight into college performance than the score by itself. Helping them to connect quality effort and discipline to high performance can be as valuable of a win as achieving the score alone.

    By Erin Wheeler, Ph.D.
    Erin Wheeler, Ph.D., is the founder of BePreppy.com, a college counseling site dedicated to providing quality low-cost, college planning assistance to all. She can be reached at erin@bepreppy.com.

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    COMMENTARY: Teachers have Been Armed!

    A couple of days ago, I read a blog post from a sister who works within the public fool system. She stated emphatically that if white teachers were to be armed, she would immediately remove her Black son from the school.

    Trust me. I think that that’s a great idea.

    My only issue is that we are so reactive.

    If white folk do this, I’ll do that.

    If Dump becomes president, I’m moving to Afrika. (I wonder how many have actually repatriated.)

    Always reacting.arming-teachers-28166604_10108801548667945_659648788552076372_n-680x680

    The reality is that teachers have always been armed with the weapons of miseducation, cultural misorientation, and low expectations. They, Black and white teachers, have been dealers in mentacide for the longest. That “mental gun” has shattered more dreams and lives than we can ever calculate.

    We don’t need anything else to happen within the schools to know that the public, private, and charter fool system is no place for the young Afrikan mind.

    Let’s be proactive. The proactive posture fills us with power and puts us in control of our lives and our children’s education.

    This reactive stuff is LAME.

    With or without guns in the classroom, our Afrikan minds don’t survive in the contaminated soil of the Eurocentric educational system. But we can do something about that.

    Revolutionary Love,
    Baba Dr. Brotha Samori Camara
    from Accra, Ghana

    P.S. Mississippi has already begun the process of arming teachers. Now what? Read about it HERE.

    Samori Camara, Ph.D., is an Afrikan warrior scholar, director of Kamali Academy–which began in New Orleans, educational consultant, life coach, and motivational speaker. Follow his @SamoriSpeaks

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    Middle schoolers participate in Southern University’s Black History Quiz Bowl Championship

    Six teams of eager middle school students from McKinley Middle Magnet, Westdale Middle School and Scotlandville Middle Pre-Engineering Academy competed in the SU Land-Grant Campus’s Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition on Feb. 28.

    Thoughout February, Southern University Land-Grant Campus professor emeritus and Black History Quiz Bowl organizer Owusu Bandele, Ph.D., conducted quiz bowls at the three area schools. The first and second place teams from each school were invited to participant in the championship competition at the SU Ag Center.

    During the championship,  Dawn Mellion Patin, Ph.D., SU Land-Grant Campus vice chancellor for extension provided the opening remarks, and Bandele served as moderator. Awards were presented to the winners by research associate Erica Williams Mitchell.

    The competition covered a variety of topics including current events, politics, history, sports and entertainment.

    Westdale Middle School’s Wakanda Team won 1st place during the Championship Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    Westdale Middle School’s Wakanda Team won 1st place during the Championship Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    Westdale Middle School’s Team Wakanda took first place. Team members were: Kahlil Bandele, Elijah Doomes, Condoleezza Semien, Lailah Collins, and Khamerin Edmonds.

    McKinley Middle Magnet School's Imhotep Team won 2nd place in the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    McKinley Middle Magnet School’s Imhotep Team won 2nd place in the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition at Southern University on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy of SU Land-Grant Campus.)

    McKinley Middle Magnet School’s Team Imhotep town second place. Members were Justin Thompson, Michael Shin, Sean Murphy, and Victoria Williams.

    Westdale Middle School's Freedom Riders Team took home 3rd place during the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition

    Westdale Middle School’s Freedom Riders Team took home 3rd place during the Middle School Black History Quiz Bowl Championship Competition

    In third place was Westdale’s Team Freedom Riders with Micah Dunn, Caelen Broussard, Pamela Davis, Marshall Seymour, and Phillip Antoine.

    Members earned place medals. Every participant received a book by or about some aspect of the Black American experience.

    The event ended with SU Land-Grant Campus Chancellor-Dean Bobby R. Phills, Ph.D., encouraging the young students to pursue a college education.

    By LaKeeshia Giddens Lusk
    Contributing Writer

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    We’re over the moon about ‘Hidden Figures’; Celebrate the One Book One Community selection

    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood, 7711 Goodwood Blvd., at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The title was first announced at the annual Louisiana Book Festival downtown in October 2017.

    There’ll be FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing and even a Moon Walk (cake walk)! Our special guests include Tamiara Wade, Ph.D. former Learning Expert at the NASA Stennis Space Center, and Alyssa Carson, a 16-year-old aspiring astronaut who attended Space Camp seven times, Space Academy three times, Robotics Academy once, and is the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy! Learn more about Carson at www.nasablueberry.com. Partners Forum 35 also will be on hand to welcome the NASA STEM Team!

    There are various other events, programs, movie nights, book talks, crafts and more related to the book and OBOC that will be scheduled throughout the community all spring long. All the events are FREE. A schedule and related information, as well as an InfoGuide, is posted at www.ReadOneBook.org, and it will be updated with additional events periodically.

    Here are some upcoming related events:

    · Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda | FREE!
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10, Main Library at Goodwood

    · LASM Discovery Dome Presents Magic Tree House: Space Mission & We Are Stars
    Presentations run March 5 – 28; For a full schedule, pick up a copy of the Library’s monthly newsletter The Source, or visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com.

    · Book Talk with Author of The Radium Girls Kate Moore
    7 p.m. Saturday, March 24, Main Library at Goodwood

    · Hidden Figures Movie Night on the BIG Screen
    7 p.m. Friday, April 6, Main Library at Goodwood

    · The World Behind Hidden Figures with Dr. Renee Horton
    2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, Main Library at Goodwood

    · History of Flight with Jim Slade & Katharine Wright
    2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, Main Library at Goodwood

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    East Baton Rouge Parish Library celebrates Black History Month

    February is Black History Month! To celebrate, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library is inviting the whole family to join in the fun with a variety of FREE programs and events to commemorate the rich culture and traditions of African-Americans and their impact on United States history.

    Other events include movie screenings, trivia games, exhibits and more for all ages. For a complete schedule, visit the online calendar at www.ebrpl.com. Here are some of the Black History Month programs and events planned at your Library:

    Featured Events

    Mid City Micro-Con: Welcome to Wakanda
    Come to the FREE Mid City Micro-Con to gear up for the release of Marvel’s Black Panther film at the Main Library at Goodwood from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, February 10! For more information, visit the InfoGuide at www.ebrpl.com, or call Samantha Belmont at (225) 231-3710.

    One Book One Community LAUNCH PARTY Celebrating Hidden Figures
    It’s that time again – time to begin the 2018 One Book One Community (OBOC) celebration! Everyone in the whole family is invited to join us for a FREE, fun, family friendly LAUNCH PARTY at the Main Library at Goodwood at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 24, in honor of this year’s selection Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Enjoy FREE food, music, games, prizes, stargazing, a Moon Walk (cake walk) and so much more! For more information, visit www.ReadOneBook.org.

    Resources for African-American Genealogy

    Adults are invited to the Main Library at Goodwood at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, for a class focused on resources designed to help in researching African-American ancestors. Due to the history of slavery, prejudice and discrimination against African-Americans in our country, African-Americans were routinely excluded from many records that could have documented details of their daily lives. In this class, attendees will learn several search techniques and how to navigate special records collections including African American Heritage, Ancestry.com and more that will assist in genealogical research. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 231-3751.

    Adults

    Three-Part Black History Month Film Series
    Adults are invited to celebrate Black History Month at the Carver Branch at 5 p.m. Thursday, February 8, 3:30 p.m. Friday, February 16, and 11 a.m. Saturday, February 24! We’ll watch three different films that highlight the stories of African-Americans throughout history.

    Make African Doll Crafts!
    Experienced crafter JoAnn Fryling will be back at the Library again this year to give a fun craft tutorial. Adults are invited to the Scotlandville Branch at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, February 15, to learn how to create a beautiful African doll craft. All supplies will be provided. Registration is required. To register, call (225) 354-7550.

    Black History Month Trivia for Adults

    Come to the Carver Branch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 28, for a little friendly competition with other adults on black history. Spend the beginning of February brushing up on your history and then come prepared to impress!

    Teens

    Self-Portrait Remix

    Hey teens! Join us at the Library for the Self-Portrait Remix program! Bring your friends with you to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 5, to be inspired by prominent African-American portrait and figurative artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Mickalen Thomas and Ernie Barnes, and create a collage portrait of your own. You even can use your art as a swagged-out Instagram or Facebook photo!

    Black History Month Trivia for Teens
    Join other teens at the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 12, to celebrate Black History Month with the Black Heritage Trivia board game! Test your knowledge on history, cultural experiences and major contributions made by African Americans from the year 1619 until present day. Winners will receive a prize!

    Traditional African Textiles

    Teens can come to the Carver Branch at 4 p.m. Monday, February 26, to honor Black History Month through the appreciation of fabric and fashion. Explore printmaking and patterning through traditional African textiles to make a beautiful hand-stamped scarf or bandana inspired by traditional African fabrics such as Kente cloth, Mud cloth and Ankara cloth.

    Children

    Peanut History Story/Craft
    Kids ages 8-11 are invited to the Carver Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20, to hear a reading of George Washington Carver by Julia Garstecki. Afterwards, each child will create a peanut man craft! Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 389-7460.

    Fairwood Awesome Bookworms Book Club
    Kids ages 7-11 can come to the Fairwood Awesome Bookworms (FAB) Book Club meeting at the Fairwood Branch at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 27! We’ll be reading Daniel Hale Williams: Surgeon Who Opened Hearts and Minds, a biography of the pioneering African-American doctor who in 1893 was one of the first in the world to successfully perform open heart surgery. Afterwards, you’ll learn a little about your own heart when you take your pulse both resting and after light exercise. Registration is required. To register, call the Children’s Room at (225) 924-9386.

    For more information about any of these Black History Month events, call the Library location directly. To learn more about the Library or any of its other free programs, events or resources, visit us online at www.ebrpl.com.

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    Tangipahoa library plans meetings to discuss March 24 tax renewal

    The Tangipahoa Parish Library will host seven town hall meetings to discuss their upcoming millage renewal leading up to the March 24 proposition election.

    Starting Jan. 16, the Library system will hold public hearings at each of their six branches to answer questions and outline plans for the millage renewal.

    Currently, the Library receives three mills for “improving, maintaining, operating and supporting the Tangipahoa Parish Library and its branches.” The 10-year tax has been on the books for decades and has been critical to provide library services for the public.

    Scheduled meeting dates and locations are as follows:
    Amite Branch: Jan. 16 at 5 p.m.
    Kentwood Branch: Jan. 29 at 5 p.m.
    Loranger Branch: Feb. 5 at 5 pm.
    Ponchatoula Branch: Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.
    Independence Branch: Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.
    Hammond Branch: March 1 at 5 p.m., and March 17 at 10 a.m.
    For more information on the March 24 Tangi Library tax renewal, go to www.TangiLibrary.com.

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    White Hills Elementary fourth graders thank ‘Wonder’ donor

    Within two weeks of White Hills Elementary 4th grade teachers Lacy Aucoin (pictured at left) and Carlita Joseph-Gordon (right) requesting book donations on Facebook, Rachel Dickerson and Maranda Smith Williams mailed 26 copies of Wonder by R. J. Palacio to the students. Gordon, who is using the book to address core reading standards, said the books will help students jumpstart or continue building personal libraries. Other books on the teacher’s wish list are: Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Summer Saves Summer by Adara Gaston, and Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume.

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    Southern University, LSBDC proclaim ‘Innovate now!’ with workshop series

    When innovation meets entrepreneurship, great things happen. The Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southern University and the Southern University Innovation Center are bringing to the capital region a series of trainings through an event called, “Innovate Now! When Innovation Meets Entrepreneurship” that will begin on January 16, 2018 at the Southern University Innovation Center located at 616 Harding Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA.

    Innovate Now! will build awareness and provide information to the small business community to inspire and inform aspiring and existing entrepreneurs about resources to help them succeed. This dynamic series addresses three major areas of focus: Innovation in Business, Product Innovation, and Innovation Globally.

    “Entrepreneurs want to be intellectually challenged, and want to make a difference in society while still obtaining financial gain,” said Ada Womack, LSBDC at Southern University interim director.

    Innovation is simply a new way of doing something, Womack said, and added that Innovation is defined as incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

    Entrepreneurship is “one who takes a risk to start a small business.” Womack said the well- known Innovation Equation model is Innovation = Creativity + Risk-Taking.

    “Southern University offers Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship assistance all on one campus,” Womack said.

    Southern University has taken large steps towards developing its entrepreneurship and economic activity especially since the grand opening of its Innovation Center in September.

    Southern University Executive Director for Strategic Engagement Deanna Williams Smith said “we are equally as excited about the upcoming Innovate Now Campaign which allows the local business community to take advantage of the numerous resources offered in one stop.”

    “The SU Innovation Center provides attractive and affordable lease office space to small upcoming businesses as well as outreach programs for our students who are guided by an entrepreneurial spirit,” Smith said. “Through our partnership with the LSBDC, our business tenants have a unique opportunity to form critical partnerships, business training resources, and access to student and faculty engagement. It’s a great time to start the New Year with ideas and passion through innovation.”

    The Innovate Now! schedule:

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Innovation in Business: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Shakita Billups, Entrepreneur
    Anyone can be innovative. Innovation means coming up with new ways of doing things. During this session you will learn about bringing innovation into your business that can help you save time and money, and give you the competitive advantage to grow and adapt your business in the marketplace. Innovation can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding. Businesses that innovate create more efficient work processes and have better productivity and performance.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – Product Innovation: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker – Carlos Thomas
    What is product innovation? This session will provide an introduction to product innovation and the steps in creating your product or service that is new or significantly improved regarding characteristics or intended uses. These components are inclusive of significant improvements in technical specifications, components and materials, incorporated software, user friendliness or other functional characteristics. Product innovations may include both new products and new uses for existing products.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018 – Innovation Globally: 5 – 7 p.m.
    Speaker: Mike Smith, CEO-OPEX
    My business is going global! Many businesses are aware that there are hidden opportunities in global innovation. Global operations is a treasure trove of ideas and capabilities for innovation. It can be challenging going global with your ideas or exploit the capabilities in global innovation projects. Some of the challenges of global projects are familiar: figuring out the right role for top executives, for example, or finding a good balance between formal and informal project management processes. In this session you will learn about the challenges and benefits of taking your business global.

    ONLINE: www.lsbdc.org.

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    Middle school engineers, teacher tackle water robotics

    When the buzzer sounds, the students in Ingrid Cruz’s eighth-grade marine robotics class hop into action. Their mission? Compete against other teams to guide a remote-controlled underwater vehicle along the bottom of a pool to recover critical equipment—using only the robot’s camera to see.

    Cruz’s students attend the Scotlandville Pre-Engineering Magnet Academy, a science, technology, engineering, art and math-focused middle school. Its curriculum offers courses such as game design, computer applications and multimedia production. The goal is to get students interested in science and math topics past middle school, planting the seed of encouragement to pursue these subjects further in high school and college.

    Though some of the robots developed by Scotlandville’s students have started earning them ribbons, it took a little trial and error for the course to gain its footing. “The first day of our marine robotics competition three years ago was the first time our robot had ever been in the water,” Mrs. Cruz said. “As soon as it got wet, everything fell apart.”

    Part of the issue was a lack of access to a pool where they could test their robot prior to competing. When leaders at the ExxonMobil YMCA learned the school needed access to water, they put in a plan to let them use the facility’s pool. ExxonMobil also provided grants so the students could take swimming lessons and water safety courses. “So now we get to test our robot in an actual pool, in the deep end, and we’re having more success because of that,” Cruz said.
    But it takes more than a pool to develop underwater robots. It’s crucial for the students to strategize and work as a team, skills they learn throughout the school year leading up to the competition.

    “The students absolutely must demonstrate teamwork,” Cruz said. “Building the robot is not easy, and when one student has an idea and somebody has a different idea, they have to learn to work together and test everyone’s ideas to see which one works best.” Cruz said it took her students about three months to build their last robot.

    The applications of the technology they test at the YMCA pool go well beyond marine applications. Just to name a few, fields like archeology, aviation, oil and gas, and even space exploration all use remotely operated robots.7 SPEMA Robot

    “The missions have relevance to real life,” Cruz said. “During one, the kids had to maneuver the robot inside a shipwreck and identify some of the packages inside the ship. In another, they had to open a power source and replace a battery inside, so they had to install a gripper on the robot.”

    It may be a few years before Scotlandville students start careers in robotics or engineering, but that hasn’t kept them from being exposed to some of the biggest names in remotely operated vehicles. After a 2016 competition, for instance, representatives from one local company were so impressed by the students’ enthusiasm, they asked one of Scotlandville’s teams to show their technology to some of their managers.

    “We’re making the robotics courses relevant to the kids, letting them know that this is a viable pursuit,” Cruz said. “Developing these underwater robots is a first step that could inspire our next generation of engineers and innovators.

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    LETTER: We Stand With the Most Effective People

    Our intentions never have been and never will be to hurt White people or any particular race for that matter. Strategically speaking, supporting the advancement of African Americans in Tangipahoa is supporting the overall growth of the entire parish considering about half the parish is African American. And there is absolutely no way that we can ensure what is in the best interests of our children with the mindset that we should hire unqualified Black people at the expense of losing effective individuals who are non-Black. The point is that we understand that to bring about the significant transformation spoken of by the board, the system has to make certain it hires the most effective individuals to lead in specific roles. We can no longer just hire people for purposes unrelated to bringing about success in our children first. Nor can we sit around and wait for an unknown superintendent while things continue to fall apart as one Board member hinted to as an option. Significant change means that even individuals on the board may need to be educated on exactly where the district falls short which should help guide them with “look fors” when determining who is best qualified for various roles so that the hire that may have happened in the case of Transportation can more likely be prevented.

    And as hurtful as the truth may be, we have fallen a little short with our children. Think about it. As per LDOE, students of color in Tangipahoa have a graduation rate of only 66%. This means that a whopping 34% did not even graduate. According to statistics, what is the likely outcome for these kids?  Ask Sheriff Daniel Edwards. Or, ask our Parish’s landlords. Not even discussed is the fact that the average ACT scores of students of color is a mere 16.5. We must do better. It all works together and begins with ensuring our kids are receiving a quality education.  Our concern is not about race if the individual has proven to be qualified and effective in advancing all kids, especially Black children which is definitely needed if we want to improve our parish long term. It cannot be.

    For the record, there have been many Black individuals whom the NAACP did not support in positions that directly affect our children. In fact, we recently expressed our non support for the following individuals prior to their selection and we will explain why:

    Walter Daniels 
    Walter Daniels has not only supported every single action made by the current superintendent, he has also made specific statements that belittle women. Just recently, Mr. Daniels stated that a “woman cannot handle the Director of Transportation job.”  It is 2017, and this is the sentiment of an actual School Board member. How will he inspire more African American girls to go into STEM fields with this mentality?

    Andrew Jackson – The role of the CDIO is to hold the system accountable to following the court order while doing what is in the very best interests of our children. We can recall that the system fought viciously against the current individual serving in this role for being unqualified for the position. The NAACP agreed with the system in this case.  Under his watch so far, the system has:

    1. Began with a salary of $40,000 annually; now according to the LLA Report has increased significantly.
    2. “Negotiated” a job for a long time female friend (colleague from Reynolds Institute) in a public school as an actual social worker although this individual was found to not even possess a license to serve in such a role, let alone deal with our children.
    3. Allowed the current superintendent to choose White candidates for positions in which more qualified Black candidates applied knowing these individuals were not the better candidate for bringing out the best in our kids. For instance, nothing was ever done about the Early Childhood Coordinator position.
    4. Allowed the superintendent to let Hammond High go a full year without being advertised while being run by someone who was a teacher less than a year ago.
    5. Did absolutely nothing about the removal of the hundreds of African American children from Eastside and Westside to Greenville Park and Woodland Park even after having been warned of the impact this would have on both school’s overall performance scores. This placed Black kids in a worse situation than previous.
    6. Knowingly allowed the superintendent to avoid advertising key positions for months at the expense of our children and an entire system that is already in educational crisis mode.
    7. Never followed through with the complaint challenging the actual credibility and validity of our system’s magnet programs due to so many that are believed to be magnets in name only. For instance, How is Westside Middle Magnet different from Natalbany Middle?  What is the specialized program and how has it benefited the kids?
    8. Never followed through with complaint of flawed evaluation system in which individuals like the same magnet supervisor responsible for the failing magnet programs and schools as a result may be underserved receiving high marks. We have yet to see evaluations as compared to performance.

    Byron Hurst
    We have all come to realize that doctorate degrees come “a dime a dozen” these days and we know from watching first hand poor leadership at some schools that things that look nice on paper seldom guarantee effectiveness. Therefore, we must look at an individual’s performance record in educating our kids. Byron Hurst was an ineffective school leader in St. Helena Parish. The school failed and he was later given a position as an Assistant Principal in Tangipahoa Parish. He then applied for a Principal position at Sumner High and was offered the Director post instead due to the superintendent wanting to place a White individual in that position. This decision making had absolutely nothing to do with children of course.  We will never support this unethical decision making. Now we have a failed principal overseeing the welfare of our kids. Again, significant change must take place.

    So, for those who have so long believed the NAACP to be anti-White, let our support for Kim Notariano teach an important lesson about our organization. Chuckling as I am writing this, she is definitely not paying us to stand for her. And she does not have to. We know that Kim. We know she loves children and takes her job seriously. Her record and credentials speak for themselves. Her knowledge of transportation, performance record as an actual parish bus driver, not to mention her business background far outweigh educational backgrounds in our opinion not to mention the fact the individual now in question did not even qualify for the position based on the system’s own advertised qualifications. If the board had hired the other candidate, then it would have followed the same pattern as discussed in the cases above. And if we are going to go ahead and pull together to bring about the significant changes spoken of that the people want, then the NAACP is taking the steps necessary to do our part. Children first!

    Patricia Morris
    President
    Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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    Grambling student, Adrian Wilson, named to La. Board of Regents

    Adrian Williams, of Ruston, has been appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents. He is in his third year as a Liberal Arts and Theatre major at Grambling State University. Williams has served as the 2014-2015 Student Government Association (SGA) Freshman Class President, the 2015-2016 SGA Sophomore Class President, the 2016-2017 SGA Chief of Staff, a Student Ambassador, a member of the University Concert Choir, the NAACP, and the Floyd L. Sandle Players Club.  He is a brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. and currently serves as the 2017-2018 SGA President. Williams has aspirations to become a professional performer, lawyer, and political figure.  Following graduation, he plans to attend graduate school for performing arts and law school.

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    Wilbert Pryor named to Board of Regents

    Wilbert Pryor, of Shreveport, has been appointed to the Louisiana Board of Regents. Pryor is the chief deputy district attorney for Caddo Parish  for the Honorable James E. Stewart, Sr., Caddo Parish District Attorney.  He formerly served as an ad hoc Shreveport City Court judge and was in private law practice. A native of Shreveport, Pryor is a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, where he was a football letterman, and the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center.  He has served on the Louisiana Lottery Corporation Board of  Directors and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.  He presently serves on the Family Justice Center of Northwest Louisiana Board of Directors, the Pathways to Education  Board of Directors, and the Zion Baptist Church, Board of Deacons. For his efforts to improve the community, Mr. Pryor was awarded the 2016 NAACP Shreveport branch Dr. Jesse N. Stone Pioneer Award.

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    Oil and gas industry challenged to engage STEM talent in Black communities

    WASHINGTON DC–When it comes to preparing the next generation for careers in science, technology engineering and mathematics, also known at STEM, Jack Gerard, the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said that leaders in the oil and natural gas industry have to answer the “awareness question.”

    “There are many people out there, today, that don’t really understand the oil and natural gas industry or the opportunities that it can present for them, their families and for well-paying careers,” said Gerard. “It’s incumbent upon us, as an industry, to have this dialogue more often and to intensify this discussion, so that people really understand,” the connection between the oil and natural gas industry and their everyday lives.

    The American Petroleum Institute and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, recently hosted a panel discussion focused on increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM careers and in the oil and natural gas industry. API, the only national trade group representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, according to the group’s website, supports 10.3 million jobs in the United States and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy.

    The panel discussion coincided with the release of a new RAND report titled, “Postsecondary Education and STEM Employment in the United States.” The report, which was prepared for API, examined national education trends and the relationship between degree attainment and employment and wages, specifically in STEM fields.

    “Many of tomorrow’s best paying careers, at all levels, will require some kind of training or education in a STEM discipline,” said Gerard.

    STEM degrees can lead to higher earnings and can help to close the wage gap between Blacks and Whites. Those higher earnings are even more pronounced in the oil and gas industry.

    Blacks with STEM bachelor’s degrees earn $45.15 in hourly wages in the oil and natural gas industry, compared to Blacks with non-STEM bachelor’s degrees, who make $28.10 per hour, according to the RAND report.

    Whites with STEM bachelor’s degrees make slightly more per hour than Blacks with STEM degrees working in the oil and natural gas industry ($45.26 vs. $45.15).

    The hourly wage gap is higher between Whites and Blacks with non-STEM degrees that work in the oil and gas industry ($37.73 vs. $28.10).

    According to the 2016 report titled, “Minority and Female Employment in the Oil & Natural Gas and Petrochemical Industries, 2015-2035” by IHS Global prepared for API, “nearly 1.9 million direct job opportunities are projected through 2035 in the oil and natural gas and petrochemical industries” and “African Americans and Hispanics will account for over 80 percent of the net increase in the labor force from 2015 to 2035.”

    Gerard said that over the next 10 years about 50 percent of the oil and natural gas workforce is going to “turnover.”

    According to the IHS Global report on minority and female employment in the oil and natural gas industry, Blacks accounted for 6.7 percent of the total workforce.

    Gerard said that as the current workforce reaches retirement age, the industry will need a rising generation to fill those jobs. Understanding the demographic shifts the industry has to get more aggressive in addressing that challenge, added Gerard.

    “If we’re going to do the things that are necessary to move the needle to impact those 1.9 million jobs, we have to go where most people don’t want to go and that’s in the Black and brown communities,” said Calvin Mackie, Ph.D., founder of STEM NOLA. “We often talk about STEM in a way that a common man and common woman really can’t grasp.”

    Mackie, who is an engineer in New Orleans, said that millions of Black and brown boys play football and basketball every Saturday, dreaming of making it to the NFL or NBA, even though their chances of achieving that goal are statistically low.

    “If we’re going to solve this problem, we have to go to the communities and make sure that on every Saturday there are a million Black and brown kids doing STEM, hoping and believing that, 15 years later, they will become,” millionaires and billionaires, said Mackie.

    Mackie runs a program that exposes elementary and high school students from underserved communities to STEM principles and STEM careers.

    Gerard said that leaders of the oil and natural gas industry recognize that they have to engage more effectively with minority communities, in order to build relationships and train and recruit their future workforce.

    “We need help from people who have been on the frontlines for many years,” said Gerard.

    Overton said that working with groups like the National Newspaper Publishers Association can improve the oil and natural gas industry’s outreach in the Black community.

    Overton also shared an anecdote about the African American women who were depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

    African American NASA mathematician Dorothy Vaughan predicted that an incoming IBM computer would displace “human computers” in the 1960s. In anticipation, she learned the computer language Fortran, and she taught it to her team of Black women mathematicians. When the IBM arrived, the team was ready and took over new jobs operating the IBM, Overton said.

    “We are in this moment of rare opportunity…we can be proactive instead of reactive, like those women in ‘Hidden Figures,’” said Spencer Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

    Mackie said that in order to increase awareness about STEM careers in the oil and natural gas industry, programs have to be culturally and environmentally relevant.

    “When we start talking about STEM education…sometimes it’s disenfranchising our children, because it’s not exposing them to the possibility of the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry,” said Mackie.

    Mackie said that the nature of work is rapidly changing, driven by innovation and technology; that rapid change has the power to change lives for those individuals who have access to the resources to harness those tools.

    Some education advocates fear that Black children, oftentimes don’t have access to those resources.

    “America is in trouble,” said Mackie. “We have to make sure that we expose every kid to the possibility of STEM, because the future will belong to those that can play in it and create it and all of our kids deserve that possibility.”

    Gerard noted that the oil and natural gas industry contributes to the production of the energy efficient screens found on windows, the paint on the walls in our homes and offices, the fiber composites in the carpet, and the plastic components in smartphones.

    “We have to make our industry more relevant in those conversations, so that rising generations realize that there are vast opportunities up and down the continuum,” said Gerard. “So, we don’t scare them with the STEM conversation, but we teach them that everything that they do is grounded in this industry and the opportunity within that space is very significant.”

    Gerard continued, “If we can work on this together, we’re going to see a lot of opportunities out there, because people will start making those connections between [the oil and natural gas industry] to things they take for granted and to well-paying careers.”

    By Freddie Allen 
    NNPA Editor-In-Chief

     

    PHOTO CAPTION: Calvin Mackie,Ph.D., engineer and founder of STEM NOLA, talks about diversity and inclusion in the oil and natural gas industry, during a panel discussion at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

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    Judge Faith Jenkins to be SU fall commencement speaker

    Southern University Baton Rouge has invited Faith Jenkins to be its fall commencement speaker. Jenkins is the host of Judge Faith – a nationally televised court TV show now entering its fourth season.
    Originally from Shreveport, Jenkins  graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Louisiana Tech University (where she was also the first Black woman to win the title of Miss Louisiana Tech University) and a J.D. from Southern University Law Center where she ranked #1 in her law class. She went on to become Miss Louisiana in the year 2000 and represent the state in the Miss America pageant where was first runner up to Miss America.
    Jenkins started her legal career in New York in the litigation group at Sidley Austin. After five years as a commercial litigator, she became a prosecutor at the Manhattan District attorney’s office. As a prosecutor, Jenkins  handled hundreds of criminal cases and was the lead attorney in numerous jury trials. Her work included indicting and prosecuting a multitude of violent crimes such as gang assaults, robberies, burglaries, kidnapping, drug sales, and firearms cases.
    Jenkins  is also known for her legal and social commentary on television. Prior to signing as a legal analyst exclusively with MSNBC, she appeared regularly on CNN, Fox News, and HLN to analyze the nation’s most high profile cases and legal issues.
    During the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, Jenkins analyzed the trial daily on all three major news networks. She appeared nightly – from jury selection to verdict — on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation to discuss witness testimony and opine on the trial’s overall progress each day.
    Southern University will be conferring degrees for more 500 graduates commencing bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral programs. Jalen Wagner, senior biology major, will be the chief student marshal for the commencement. The program is set for Friday, December 15, at 10am in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
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    Flooded Louisiana Schools Receive $14 Million More in Recovery Funding

    Approximately $14 million in federal disaster aid will support schools in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Tangipahoa parishes with recovery and repair efforts following the August 2016 floods.

    Some repair projects received supplemental funding to enhance construction, reduce flood damage and break the cycle of repetitive losses.

    Students and schools in these parishes will benefit from the following projects reimbursed by FEMA:

    • Amite Westside Middle Magnet School has been approved for nearly $466,000 for classroom repairs. This includes $7,785 to install watertight doors.
    • Baker High School has been approved for about $2.4 million for repairs to classrooms. FEMA previously approved $5.4 million to reimburse the cost of temporary facilities, debris removal and cleaning expenses along with funding to replace contents and assist with building repairs.
    • Brookstown Magnet Middle School in Baton Rouge has been approved for approximately $2.4 millionfor classroom repairs. FEMA previously approved $1.7 million for cleaning and flood damage removal expenses.
    • Lake Elementary School in St. Amant has been approved for nearly $3.3 million for building and equipment repairs. Of that total, $61,758 will help elevate electrical equipment vulnerable to flooding. FEMA previously approved $7.4 million for temporary facilities and flood-damage removal and debris expenses.
    • St. Amant Primary School has been approved to receive about $1.8 million for classroom repairs. This includes funding of $150,300 to elevate electrical equipment.
    • The Runnels School in Baton Rouge has been approved for about $1.3 million for temporary classroom facilities, contents and repairs to accommodate displaced students and faculty.
    • The Wilma C. Montgomery Center – an East Baton Rouge School Board administration building - has been approved for about $1.3 million for repairs.

    To date, FEMA has reimbursed Louisiana schools more than $133 million for disaster-related projects through the Public Assistance program.

    The PA program has reimbursed over $489 million to local and state government entities as well as certain private nonprofits for August 2016 flood-related expenses. Eligible reimbursement projects include repairing or replacing disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure, debris removal and emergency response activities.

    FEMA has a long-term commitment to help Louisiana communities and critical infrastructure recover from the August 2016 floods. The agency continues collaborating with the state on recovery projects with 282 applicants in 26 parishes.

    FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible expenses. However, the agency will reimburse applicants 90 percent of eligible expenses given the magnitude of the August 2016 floods.

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    COMMENTARY: Louisiana School Finder gives parents information to help children succeed

    School accountability is key to ensuring all students — regardless of Zip code, race, socioeconomic status or differing abilities — have equal access to the high-quality education they deserve. But it’s often difficult to gather information that paints a complete picture of how well local child care centers and schools are preparing children for the next grade level. A new tool created for Louisiana families offers a solution.

    Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Education released a new online tool called the Louisiana School Finder that enables families to find and evaluate schools and early childhood programs across the state to find the sites that best fit their unique child’s needs. The revamped report card system shows overall school and district performance scores — Louisiana schools, for example, earned a collective “B” letter grade this year — and traditionally reported data points like assessment results, graduation rates and college enrollment. It’s also expanded to offer results by student group, detail student discipline and attendance data, and even highlight facts about the teachers who work at each site, a huge step toward ensuring greater transparency and addressing equity.

    In addition, the system gives users information about all publicly funded early childhood centers, prekindergarten and Head Start programs across the state, unifying our early childhood and K-12 education systems. These new ratings, which were unveiled for the first time this year, are derived from site observations and provide a snapshot of each classroom’s climate and how well they are preparing kids to enter kindergarten ready. Statewide, about 1,500 performance profiles are now available.

    The Louisiana School Finder plainly communicates the details families need to make informed decisions about their child’s education, and the facts educators, stakeholders, nonprofit organizations and advocates need to understand the gaps that exist, how to direct resources and how to leverage best practices. It is truly a one-of-a-kind community tool.

    As president of Urban League of Louisiana, my job is focused on ensuring that all students have the same resources and opportunities as their counterparts. It’s a responsibility that is the heart of my organization. The Louisiana School Finder helps accomplish that mission and positions our state, our schools and our students toward continued success.

    By Erika McConduit

    President of the Urban League Louisiana

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    Our Glass wins Bayou Classic BizTech Challenge

    Four Southern University Baton Rouge students collected a $10,000 grand prize after placing first in the Bayou Classic Biztech Challenge.

    Their business pitch, Our Glass, caters to herbal tea consumers and is a 3-D printable, portable bottle that is insulated and allows consumers to brew tea on the go.

    Adorned in a white t-shirt with baby blue writing that spelled Our Glass, senior mechanical engineering and supply chain major from Mer Rouge Nathan Morrison, presented the problem of not being able to brew tea quickly without a heating element nearby.

    After coming up with the idea, Morrison sought out those who he knew could help bring his vision to life. SUBR students, Polite Stewar. Jr., Rashad Pierre and Ashley Lewis were the three additional powerhouses behind Our Glass.

    “We have to get patented, trademarked and figure out who gets what,” Morrison stated in regards to the volume of investment offers that the quartet have recently begun to receive after their victory.

    The students received a $10,000 check in which they will split four ways. They were also gifted $10,000 in legal fees during the Nov. 25, 2017, event.

    Read complete story at The Southern Digest.

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    Policy experts discuss education in the new Jim Crow era

    After decades of desegregation efforts, federal civil rights laws, and other attempts to close the achievement gap, a high quality education remains an elusive goal for most Black children.

    In an effort to engage Black parents around reaching that elusive goal, educators and community stakeholders tackled leadership, educational equity and policy in urban schools, during a recent panel discussion.

    Led by moderator Linda Tillman, professor emeritus of education leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the panel discussed the challenges faced by African American teachers and leaders, as they work to educate Black children and young adults in urban communities.

    “We are here to revisit old discussions and bring fresh ideas,” Tillman said. “Jim Crow has affected Blacks in so many ways. Black education is a right [that’s] not solely based on White norms.”

    Panelist Terri Watson, a City College of New York (CCNY) educator and co-creator of the CCNY-based “Growing Our Own Doctor’s Project,” said that there’s not only a need for better education, but that there’s also a need for safer communities for Black students.

    “We have to focus on creating space where kids are informed and active, that’s important,” Watson said. “We have to let the kids know that the world is waiting for them, they’re up next and we have to change their mindset that the world views them as disposable.”

    Rodney Hopson, a professor and associate dean of education psychology at George Mason University, Sonya Douglass Horsford, an associate professor of education leadership at the Teachers College at Columbia University, and M. Christopher Brown II, the president of Kentucky State University also participated in the panel that took place during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference.

    Both Brown and Horsford, longtime friends, said the majority of public schools are now non-White. The proliferation of charter and alternative schools has also chipped away at the effectiveness of public schools.

    The federal government has played such a major role in shaping education policy and schools now mostly prepare African Americans for prison, not college, Brown said.

    “The school’s structure that’s used is that they teach our kids how to stand in a straight line, to raise their hands when they have to go to the bathroom…you do that in prison, so that’s the training they’re getting,” Brown said.

    He then quoted what he said was a prophetic statement made by W.E.B. Du Bois 57 years ago.

    “[African American] teachers will become rarer and in many cases will disappear,” Brown said quoting Du Bois, noting that the prediction has come to pass.

    Brown continued, quoting Du Bois: “[African American] children will be instructed in public schools and taught under unpleasant if not discouraging circumstances. Even more largely than today, they will fall out of school, cease to enter high school, and fewer and fewer will go to college.”

    Horsford, like the other panelists, said no one should be surprised, because, after all, resegregation has occurred and education is the “new civil rights in the new Jim Crow.”

    “We shouldn’t operate from the assumption that our schools are broken,” she said. “They are doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is to sift and sort children into different categories for economic reasons.”

    Horsford added that African Americans must tap the potential, possibilities and gifts of the young people who truly hold the answers to society’s pressing problems.

    Even educators have suffered and are poorly valued in a system guided by high-stakes testing and performance-based accountability, Horsford said.

    “We have to engage in parallel efforts…we need to reimagine schools and school systems that support everyone,” said Horsford. “We also have to make sure that, in the meantime, we are preparing students to not only survive, but also thrive in an era of extreme inequality.”

    By Stacy M. Brown
    NNPA Newswire Contributor

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    Superintendent does not deserve all the blame

    Many I Have talked to are very dissatisfied with the performance of the current superintendent. We know that the next superintendent must be someone with a strong background and proven performance record in educating children (all children). Our current su- perintendent is well-versed in nance. Yes, this is what our board chose to lead our kids and schools over the past decade; a nance guy. This is perhaps where the notion that more money is the right answer to solve every educational problem comes into play. Maybe we should ask the districts in our country that spend less per pu- pil and yet outperform others. Or, we can ask those districts in places like New York that spend tens of thousands per pupil while performance still lacks. But, that’s another discussion for another time.

    In the superintendent’s defense, I do not think the current superintendent deserves all of the blame for district perfor- mance. For instance, currently Tangipahoa has an abundance of “magnet” schools. However, there exists absolutely no blueprint or school magnet plan illustrating to the public exactly how each magnet program should look and sound by full implementation. Nor, is there a timeline with performance benchmarks so that the indi- vidual responsible for imple- menting magnet programs District-wide can progress- monitor implementation. What kind of organization does not have these simple processes in place? Ours.

    What is the outcome of this? Well, for one, we have commu- nications magnet schools that have been in existence for over ve years without any real outlying educational experiences than those found in traditional schools. What is the blue print for the Medical Magnet at Amite? Is it just the state’s jumpstart CNA programs? Let’s get serious.
    We have kids dropping out of the high school’s IB program because they were not properly prepared for the Diploma Pro- gramme in K-8. There has been no success in securing the ac- tual Middle Years Programme despite attempts having been made since 2012 or earlier. There’s no wonder our kids are having trouble in high school; they are missing the o cial IB Middle Years. Let’s not even talk about the academic per- formance of the district’s mag- net schools. Basically, most of them are in decline.

    As for our high schools, a high school supervisor reportedly assigned e ective ratings to a high school administra- tor who was removed by the superintendent for basically being determined ine ective. How can such a discrepancy exist? Well, based on the lack of growth performance coupled with culture and climate issues that existed at this particular high school, the superinten- dent probably made the rightdecision. However, the individual who gave that particular school leader e ec- tive ratings should have also been repri- manded. The public must trust that indi- viduals are being held fairly accountable for how they perform with our children, and the ability to properly hold system leaders just as accountable as school lead- ers and teachers is a known weakness of the Tangipahoa Parish School System. This system has been known to place in- dividuals in district leadership roles who have not been proven to have been ef- fective leaders in schools based on, well, school performance. We must do better to win the public over.

    Lastly, Tangipahoa Parish Schools contain a reform measure known to help raise student achievement called the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP). The program involves the hiring of mas- ter and mentor teachers in TAP schools as well as a district Master teacher who supports TAP schools. At one point, the system had as many as nine TAP schools. Now, it has only one. Again, who holds the individual responsible for supporting these TAP schools (District TAP executive TAP Master teacher), and why is this individual still serving in this role when the district only has one TAP school? Who pays for this? How did the one school in which this individual was responsible for perform this past year? It declined.

    In conclusion, yes, the superinten- dent is ultimately responsible for district overall performance. However, the in- dividual responsible for district magnet programs, high school performance, and the individual responsible for the TAP should all be held accountable for the performance (or lack thereof) in these particular schools and programs overall. In addition, the board should request a copy of how the superintendent and/ r designee evaluated each and compare these evaluations with actual school/pro- gram performance. We do expect that, in the future, this superintendent as well as future superintendents do a better job at securing the most e ective individuals for these kinds of positions so that our entire district can be led in a more posi- tive direction, academically.

    By Patricia Morris
    President Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP

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    Robinson speaks against Kolwe, number of failing schools

    HAMMOND–Tangipahoa Parish School Board member Betty Robinson is highly critical of the superintendent of Tangipahoa Parish Schools Mark Kolwe and she questions the number of failing schools.
    “I have three failing schools in my district,” Robinson said. “Hammond Junior High, Woodland Park, and Westside Elementary, all these school having failing grades. It not the educational system; it is the Superintendent Mark Kolwe is to blame. He is not an educator.”
    Robinson said, “Another problem we have in the school system is that our children are being taught by uncertified teachers.”
    “Everytime a failing school gets a principal who turns around a school, the superintendent will transfer that principal. (For example) Terran Perry was turning around Hammond Junior High, a failing school,” she said.
    “The tax payers can change the school system, and remove the superintendent by attending school board meeting in record numbers and challenge how their tax dollars are spent,” she said.
    According to Robinson, the school board has hired a public relations firm to produce information about a proposed tax that will appear on the November ballot.
    “I cannot support a tax. I don’t trust them with the money, and the community doesn’t trust the system. If the tax passes, the majority of the money will go to Ponchatoula High,” she said. “We must vote against the tax.”
    Robinson said her trouble with the school board started on November 3, 2015, when she was sworn in. “I did not received new members’ orientation until 2016–14 months later,” she said.
    In a letter to The Drum, Robinson wrote:

    Dear Editor:
    The recent report ranking our city as being among the worst cities to raise a child hit hard. The reason is that this is a direct reflection of our educational system. Citizens need board members to be open and honest with them about the state of education.
    Likewise, board members need a superintendent who is courageous enough to be honest and open about these matters with us. We cannot go on pretending like everything is great when national reports state otherwise as this makes us appear uncivilized. I understand politics, but the well being of children and families is far too important to play politics. We simply cannot afford to do so. Doing so has caused the outcome seen nationally.
    Our parish it’s cities and towns are a jewel. However, a better job must be done with our schools.
    The superintendent of over a decade owes local mayors, business leaders, civic leaders and especially families answers as to why our system is in this current condition. And please, do not continue to place blame on money.
    People are tired of this excuse and have stated that they will invest when they can trust that their dollars will be effectively spent on improving educational outcomes for all children. Would you believe that one of the highest ranking school districts in our country actually spends less than we do per pupil? Go figure.
    It is about effectively prioritizing and managing what you have, and our data points out that prioritizing funds starting with what is in the very best interests of children has definitely not been an area of strength for our system’s leadership.
    An entire decade has passed, and this is the outcome. We must do better in assisting our parish’s cities and towns by doing our part in securing leadership that we know can improve system wide academic outcomes so that we all can reap the benefits of having a district filled with high ranking schools.
    Betty C. Robinson
    School Board Member
    Tangipahoa Parish District G

    By Eddie Ponds
    The Drum Founding Publisher

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    COMMENTARY: Not every child is going to be a scientist or doctor. Educate them still.

    I am a former teacher. I taught for 25 years in the public school system and have held various titles in the field of education throughout my 40-year career. I have always had a passion for education. My family and I joke that I have been teaching since the first day of kindergarten. My older sister also wanted to be a teacher. So, we would spend our evenings “playing school” with our many siblings and neighbors. Because of our productive “pretend play” I began school already reading and writing. I remember printing the alphabet with pride. By the time I reached third grade I was reading everything I could get my hands on and helping my classmates read as well. In fact, the only time I was reprimanded was when I tried to help a classmate pronounce names during her social studies report on current events.

    I shared that time during my childhood, because it is important for educators to understand that children begin school on various levels. Children develop and retain information differently. Some students begin school ahead of the pack. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure all children, irrespective of their initial academic level continue to make progress.

    Unfortunately, most students are not progressing at an appropriate pace. The reauthorized, national education law, Every Student Succeeds Act, grants states the freedom to develop their own academic standards and measures of accountability so long as those standards prepare students for college and career readiness. State academic standards can include a wide range of subject areas; in contrast to the previous emphasis on reading and mathematics. To support the academic achievement of students with varied academic ability, background, and socioeconomic status, it is vital that educators refrain from the one-size-fits-all model of instruction promoted during No Child Left Behind.

    To improve academic achievement, we must reflect on our stated mission: to educate all children. Not every child is going to be a mathematician. Not every child is going to be a scientist or doctor. However, every child is born with specific gifts and talents. It is up to us, as parents and educators, to help each child develop those specific talents. In a family of six children, each of my siblings had a different area of interest. One became a medical doctor, another a mathematician, still another, an engineer; there are two former teachers, and a law enforcement officer. We were all expected to excel in our respective fields, and we did.

    Success comes in many forms. A successful student is allowed to pursue his/her natural talents and encouraged to learn the skills needed to be a productive citizen. Had my siblings and I been limited to reading and mathematics, we probably wouldn’t have been as successful; not in our careers or personal lives. To improve academic achievement, let’s first equip teachers with the skills to recognize the natural talents that support and encourage academic achievement. School systems must realize that tests only measure a finite set of skills and that skills do exist outside of those measured. Academic achievement is improved when we recognize the differences in children and embrace them rather than trying to put every child in the same, square box. Academic achievement is improved when parents take the initiative to advocate for their child’s needs from the womb all the way through college graduation and the start of their careers.

    Who is responsible for improving academic achievement? All of us. Get engaged, go to the meetings, participate in the professional development, take part in the free webinars, read the articles on education in your local newspapers, and be a voice in your child’s education.

    If you are looking for tips on how to get involved, or where to go to attend meetings, visit www.nnpa.org/essa.

    Elizabeth Primas, Ph.D., is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. She is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow her @elizabethprimas.

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