On Aug. 8, School Board President Jannie Rogers addressed the assembly of more than 600 district employees to issue the following challenge: "We must look at the past clearly, the present with wisdom and look to the future with great expectations."
Following Rogers' remarks, the 2012-13 Teachers of the Year were recognized: Charissa Renee Dennis, Zachary Early Learning Center; Gwen Savario, Northwestern Elementary; Shanita Betheley, Copper Mill; Julie Johnson, Northwestern Middle; Pam Broussard, Zachary High; Chasity Jones, Port Hudson Career Academy; and Karen Roebuck, Zachary Elementary, who moved over the summer and who no longer works for the ZCSD.
State Superintendent of Education John White also issued a challenge to Zachary and state educators. "Louisiana has made significant progress during the last decade but more needs to be done to prepare students to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and challenging careers," White said. "With greater accountability should come greater freedom and flexibility to achieve higher standards. So starting this year, the state will begin phasing out the state comprehensive curriculum and empowering school leaders and teachers with the ability to choose the content that will work best for their students.
"We, as educators, have a choice this year," said White. "We can take this change as something that is happening to us, or we can seize the moment and put these tools and opportunities to work for our children. I have great faith in all the educators in our state, not just in Zachary. Thank you for committing to the work ahead."
White said the new standards will become effective for the 2014-15 school term.
White also thanked ZCSD Superintendent Warren Drake for offering up his talents to work with him at the La. Dept. of Education. "The rest of the state and many others desperately need your talents," White told Drake. "They need it, and you've earned it."
Furthermore, White said that in two years, educators won't be asking how they fared against other school districts across the state but across the country. "We'll be asking: 'How did Massachusetts do?' or 'How did Florida do?' on exactly the same tests," White said.
Drake, who addressed the newly detached Zachary school district for the first time on Aug. 6, 2003, addressed the district for possibly his last time Aug. 8. "These last 10 years have been the best of my life," Drake said.
He recalled that when he first got the news of being chosen to lead the Zachary Community School District, he had just finished his first day of school that year at Tara High. "I told Connie Aslin, the first school board employee, that we worked for the best school board in the state because in July 2003 we had no teachers or students yet," Drake joked. "Zachary was still part of the Baton Rouge School System, and we were flying by the seats of our pants.
"The best part about that time was the people of Zachary. They came in droves to help clean the schools and get them ready for our first year," Drake said. "We all owe a debt of gratitude to the people of Zachary. It's amazing what they've allowed us to do over the past 10 years."
Drake said that as good as the ZCSD is, it can do better.
His last day as superintendent of Zachary is Sept. 4.