Incoming Ascension Parish superintendent shares her goals for the school district
ASCENSION PARISH- Ascension Parish School District is getting ready to transition into a new era of leadership. Dr. Edith Walker, was unanimously approved by the board on April 18, is preparing to take the reins as superintendent.
Although, she's new to the position, she is no stranger to the district. Walker has been an educator for 25 years, 21 of those years being spent in Ascension.
"I came to this school district when Dutchtown High School opened in 2002 and simply fell in love with the kids and the community," Walker said.
She started as an English teacher, working her way up through the ranks over the years. Right now Walker is the chief instructional director for the district. On July 1, she will officially takeover as Superintendent.
"It is an unusual feeling because you have the weight of the entire district as a part of your responsibilities now. But it is a great feeling knowing that our students, our parents, our community, our teachers, our principals can count on me as a support system as we move forward with the school year."
Even though the district is already in great shape, she says there is always room for improvement.
"One would think, 'This is going to be easy, as you move into the superintendent's role you just continue to do what you're doing and everything should be okay.' A really thoughtful leader should look at the district and, of course, praise the wonderful things that we've done but look for areas and avenues where I can make some instrumental changes and keep us moving forward."
There are three things at the top of Walker's list where she believes there can be effective change and chances for growth.
First, she wants to get more teachers certified. Right now about 85% of teachers in Ascension Parish have their certifications.
"There are parts of our school district that have a lower certification. In our Donaldsonville schools, that number can be right now as low as 59%. My goal is to continue to work with our board, continue to work with our school board office, to insure that we recruit and retain high quality teachers for every student. And we continue to do that work until we are 100% certified in our school district."
The district has already started working on ways to change that. In May of 2022, the board approved a $10,000 raise for certified teachers.
Second, Walker wants to get more students reading on grade level. Only 70 percent of students grades K-3 are reading on grade level.
"How do we get that other 30 percent on board? What types of training do we need for our teachers? What types of communications and resources do we need to have for our parents to ensure that each and every student is ready to access curriculum within our schools and perform at a high level as they move forward?"
Third, she wants more money in scholarships for graduating seniors.
"Between $15-20 million in scholarships a year are awarded a year to those students. I would love to see that number between $25-30 million."
Lastly, Walker wants to stress how much she values every student.
"It doesn't matter your background, it doesn't matter socio economics, it doesn't matter if you live on the east side or the west side... you matter to me. My work will be around making sure every student in this school district moves forward in a positive way."
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