Category Archives: Member News

Bossier Schools prepare for the year with upcoming events

The start of school is less than two weeks away for Bossier Parish students, so they are in high gear getting ready for the 2019-20 year. That means helping bridge the gap for families needing uniforms, asking our community to help us fill the bus with school supplies, parent PREP night and a huge archery celebration to honor our State, National and (hopefully) World champions! 

Below is the list of upcoming events to help Bossier Parish students get ready for the year ahead:

Saturday, July 27 
Uniform Giveaway: Plantation Park Elementary, 2410 Plantation Drive Bossier City, Noon-2:00 p.m. 
Affording school uniforms can be a financial burden for many families, so Northpoint Community Church is stepping in to help. This outstanding community partner will be giving away over 3,000 FREE uniforms and school supplies to the public at the 7th Annual Bossier Back to School Event from noon to 2 p.m. in the Plantation Park Elementary gym. A guardian must be present with each child and a valid photo ID or utility bill showing residency in Bossier Parish will be required to receive uniforms or supplies.

Tuesday, July 30 
Archery Celebration: Benton Middle School Gym, 6140 LA 3 Benton, 5:30 p.m. 
Come help us celebrate our State, National and (fingers crossed) World archery champions! Several Bossier Parish archery teams are competing this weekend in the 2019 NASP Open and Championship Tournaments in Nashville, TN. Bossier Parish teams already hold the State and National Championships and we are hoping to add World Champions to that list! The victory party honoring our teams’ accomplishments will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 30 in the Benton Middle School gym. Everyone is invited. 

Wednesday, July 31 
Big Bus Debut: Apollo Elementary, 2400 Viking Drive, Bossier City, 10:00 a.m. 
Bossier Schools had a special delivery over the summer; 14 new air-conditioned 77-passenger buses. That brings our fleet of air-conditioned buses to nearly 60-percent, which is a huge testament to the district’s Transportation department and commitment from the Bossier Parish School Board. Superintendent Mitch Downey will take his first ride aboard one of the new buses and he is inviting our media partners to come along. We will depart Apollo Elementary at 10:00 a.m. for a quick ride and to tell you about the bus features and pass along a few reminders for parents before school starts. 

Thursday, August 1 
Princeton PREP Night: Princeton Elementary, 1895 Winfield Rd., Princeton, 5:00-7:00 p.m. 
Princeton Elementary is hosting PREP Night for parents. Patriots Ready for Education at Princeton is a special night set aside to showcase the House that Princeton Built. Families will be able to register, meet their child’s teachers and learn how to best help their student be successful. Numerous community partners will also be on hand and dinner and child care is available. PREP Night is from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the school. 

Friday, August 2 
Fill the Bus: Walmart, 2536 Airline Drive, Bossier City, 4:00-7:00 p.m. 
The United Way of Northwest Louisiana is teaming up with Bossier Schools to help us “Fill the Bus.” Employees from Bossier Schools and United Way volunteers will be outside the entrances at Walmart on Airline Drive from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. encouraging shoppers to pick up school supplies to help fill the void for families unable to afford them. This is a huge help to our students, so they are prepared to start school prepared, and for our teachers, so they do not have to reach into their own pockets. 

Bossier Schools’ Lisa Burns Named 2020 State Elementary Principal of the Year

It was a big weekend in Baton Rouge, where Bossier Parish principal Lisa Burns took center stage at the 13th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards, where she was named the 2020 Louisiana Elementary Principal of the Year. 

Burns has served as an educator in Bossier Parish for 22 years and is currently the Principal of W.T. Lewis Elementary, where she began her journey in administration as the school’s first Assistant Principal. Maintaining a standard of excellence, the school has earned an “A” rating each year of her principalship, and in 2018 W.T. Lewis was recognized as a Top Gains School and an Equity Honoree. 

Recognized in her community as a passionate and innovative leader, Burns is committed to making school a place where children not only reach high levels of success, but where they are loved, supported and surrounded by inspired and empowered educators who work together to help every child succeed. Ignited by this vision and her calling as an educator, Mrs. Burns unleashed the power of “WE” at W.T. Lewis and transformed the school’s culture. She consistently seeks opportunities to reflect and grow as a leader, while placing teacher professional development at the top of her priorities as a principal, understanding that the teacher is the most influential factor in a child’s education and success. 

As Louisiana Elementary Principal of the Year, Burns plans to share how she evolved as a leader and inspired positive change at her school after serving as one of the school’s leaders for almost a decade. She aspires to energize principals, inspiring them to lead with passion and purpose and supporting them in unleashing the power of “WE” that also lies within their schools. 

“I am so humbled and honored to represent Bossier Schools, W.T. Lewis Elementary and the great state of Louisiana as the 2020 State Elementary Principal of the Year!” said Burns. “It’s not about accolades or titles. It’s about kids and the opportunity to inspire work that leads to great things for them. This is my calling and I love my profession, so to be recognized for my work at the state level is truly a blessing and a dream come true!” 

“Lisa Burns is an incredible example of empathy, humility and passionate leadership,” added Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey. “Bossier has known that, now the entire state knows it!” 

Bossier Hits Milestone, Leads Region in LEAP Performance Scores

The numbers are in and the results were worth the wait. Bossier Schools set a personal record and continues to be a state leader in the number of students scoring mastery and above on the 2018-19 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) exam, according to data released by the Louisiana Department of Education. 

The district hit an all-time high of 51-percent of students in grades 3-12 scoring mastery and advanced on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the assessment. The percentage of students in grades 3-8 and high school students earning mastery and advanced in math also increased by three-percent, propelling Bossier to lead the northern region in district math scores. When all subjects — ELA, math and social studies — are combined, 43-percent of students scored mastery and above, ranking Bossier the 14th highest performing district in Louisiana. That exceeds the state average by seven points. 

Gains were made by subgroups tracked by the state as well, which include the number of African American students scoring mastery+, economically disadvantaged and children with disabilities. Those making the most notable gains were military affiliated students, who showed a three-percent increase in mastery+ across all subjects, and children in foster care, who marked an eight-percent rise in ELA, math and social studies. 

These successes come on the heels of data released just two months ago by the LDOE, showing the Bossier Parish Senior Class of 2017-18 reached an all-time high graduation rate. 

“While the big picture shows our district making academic gains, what matters most to us is what it means for our students,” said Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey. “We are not an island. It takes every educator and administrator working in partnership with parents and the community to prepare our young people for success. It reflects our vision at Bossier Schools to win the day, every child, every way.” 

Gastons endow scholarships, fellowships with $2.5 million gift

The estate of Harry and Rubye Gaston recently made a $2,500,000 legacy gift to benefit both Louisiana Tech University’s College of Education and College of Engineering and Science. The endowments will fund undergraduate scholarships, graduate assistantships and fellowships, and the Engineering General Endowment.

“It is an honor to celebrate the legacy of Harry and Rubye Gaston through their generosity to the students of the College of Education,” said Emily Kabbes, Director of Development. “The priority they placed in supporting students in both the College of Education and College of Engineering and Science is admirable.”

Harry Gaston, Jr., received his Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering at Louisiana Tech in 1952. During Gaston’s time at Tech, he was selected into the engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi. After graduating he enrolled in the University of Texas in Austin, where he received his Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering and met and married Rubye Oliver.

After serving in the United States Army during the Korean War, Gaston moved to Houston with his wife. Following their move, he joined Robert W. Harrison Company, a petroleum consultant firm, which later merged into Ryder Scott Company Petroleum Engineers. Gaston served as president of the company from 1991 until his retirement in 1997. In 2005, Gaston was named the Alumnus of the Year for the College of Engineering and Science at Tech. He died in 2006, and Rubye passed away in 2018.

Prior to their deaths, the Gastons established endowed scholarships at both Tech and the University of Texas.

“We are thrilled that the Gaston’s generous legacy will forever provide for unparalleled educational experiences,” said Dr. Hisham Hegab, Dean of the College of Engineering and Science. “Their thoughtful allocation aids several initiatives here and now, including our ability to attract and retain top quality graduate students to Louisiana Tech as a premier research institution.”

The endowment was split into four different endowed funds:

  • The Harry and Rubye Gaston Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship for the College of Education provides unrestricted support for undergraduate students in the academic departments of Curriculum, Instruction and Leadership; Kinesiology; and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, as well as other programs including Call Me MiSTER and UTeachTech. 
  • The Harry and Rubye Gaston Endowed Graduate Scholarship was established to attract and retain outstanding graduate students in the College of Engineering and Science.
  • The Mattie Black Gaston Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established to provide funds for a student with high academic potential in the College of Engineering and Science who would otherwise be unable to attend Tech due to financial need.
  • The Engineering Endowment is used to fund scholarship and other expenses within the college on an as-needed basis.

The Gaston family gift enhances programs in the colleges of Education and Engineering and Science, allowing the University flexibility to respond to needs and create more opportunities to fund students’ educations well into the future.

“We are grateful they made this important decision together regarding their estate plans while they were living so that we may pay their gift forward to the many, many students who will be positively impacted by their lives and generosity,” Kabbes said.

Louisiana Tech Physics student receives prestigious doctoral Jefferson Sciences fellowship

Louisiana Tech University Physics doctoral student Devaki B. Pathak has been awarded a fellowship from the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Pathak is one of only nine students nationwide to earn the prestigious Jefferson Sciences Associates/Jefferson Lab Graduate Fellowship. She will work with her Louisiana Tech mentor, Dr. Rakitha Beminiwattha, assistant professor of physics, and scientists at the Jefferson Lab to continue her research in parity violating electron scattering experiments and will work to discover novel properties of particles and nuclear matter.

Pathak earned the award due to the quality of her research proposal, her academic standing, and references she received both from professors at Louisiana Tech and senior scientists at the Jefferson Lab.

Beminiwattha, says that the fellowship illustrates Pathak’s commitment to the success of studies at the lab. “Devaki is a smart student who has already contributed, designing experiments at Jefferson Lab over the last three years, and she has worked very hard to earn this fellowship.”

The Jefferson Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory that provides scientists with opportunities to study particles using the lab’s unique particle accelerator, known as the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility. In addition, the lab capitalizes on its unique technologies and expertise to perform advanced computing and applied research with industry and university partners, and provides programs designed to help educate the next generation in science and technology.

The Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA) Board of Trustees first established the fellowship program in 1989. The program, now supported by the Jefferson Sciences Associates Initiatives Fund, contributes to the student’s research assistant stipend, and additional funds are available for research-related travel for the student during the fellowship period. All fellowship recipients attend universities that are members of SURA, a consortium of 60 leading research universities. Since the program’s inception, 225 fellowships have been awarded to students from 22 different SURA member universities. SURA built and operated Jefferson Lab, before becoming a partner of Jefferson Science Associates.

Super 1 Foods Donates Gatorade to Bell Fitness Center at Barksdale Air Force Base

Super 1 Foods has donated more than 2,500 Gatorade products to Bell Fitness Center at Barksdale Air Force Base. The donation was made through Super 1 Foods’ partnership with Gatorade to help military heroes stay hydrated as they work to protect our country. 

During the month of May, customers who shopped at Super 1 Foods received two free Gatorade products for every three purchased in a single transaction. Customers were encouraged to donate Gatorade purchases in specially marked bins at each store. All donated products were distributed to military bases. 

“Giving back to military heroes who sacrifice to protect our nation is extremely important to our company,” said Brad Brookshire, Chairman and CEO for Brookshire Grocery Co. “We are thankful for the generosity of our customers and the support from Gatorade to help make this donation to Bell Fitness Center possible.”  

The Brookshire’s and Super 1 Foods Heroes Run also supports military heroes and first responders, with one hundred percent of race revenue donated to nonprofit organizations. The 2019 race will take place Oct. 26 in downtown Shreveport. For more information and to register, please visit 


Eldorado Shreveport Management to Present $14,000 Donation to Shriners Hospitals for Children -Shreveport

HO: Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport will celebrate its 14 th anniversary in Shreveport-Bossier this weekend.

WHAT: Cash prizes will be given away on Saturday, July 13 beginning at 7:00pm. Guests may earn entries by playing at Eldorado all week long. To celebrate 14 years, 14 guests will
win $500 each and one lucky guest will win the $14,000 Grand Prize!

Eldorado will also celebrate with a special 14 th anniversary event Thursday, July 11 at
Shriner’s Hospital for Children–Shreveport. General Manager Robert Urland will present a
Birthday Charity Check for $14,000 to benefit the Shriner’s Hospital for Children right here
in Shreveport. Birthday cake and gifts for the patients along with Fez-adorned Shriners
and El Karubah clowns will add to the festivities.

WHEN: Cash Giveaways: Saturday, July 13 beginning at 7 pm.

  • Shriners Hospitals for Children – Shreveport Charity Check Presentation: Thursday, July 11 at 2:00PM at Shriner’s Hospital for Children—Shreveport. *

*Event not open to the public but media welcome.

WHY: When the Carano family of Reno, NV, opened the first Eldorado property in 1973, they did so with an emphasis on family values and putting people first. Today we continue to extend these family values not only to our employees but also to our communities.
The family purchased the former Hollywood Casino property in July 2005, opening
Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport. This July marks thirteen successful years in the local

General Manager Robert Urland stated, “On behalf of Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport,
I would like to thank the community for 14 amazing years.  We attribute our success to our
guests’ continued loyalty and the incredible passion and commitment from our team
members. Many have been with us since day-one, and it’s their hard work and dedication
to world-class service that makes Eldorado the premier resort casino in the area.”

In September of 1921, leaders of the Shriners fraternity made the historic announcement
that the world’s first Shriners Hospital would be located in Shreveport, Louisiana and in
May of 1922, construction began. Shriner’s Hospital for Children—Shreveport has been
serving children from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and
the Republic of Panama for almost 96 years, regardless of the families ability to pay!

CONTACT: Members of the media interested in attending the Check Presentation event may contact Eldorado Resort Casino Shreveport’s Director of Marketing, Kirsten DeMoss at 318/220-5247 or

NCTQ names Tech as having one of nation’s top programs for undergraduate elementary education

Ruston, Louisiana – The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has recognized Louisiana Tech University’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program as one of the nation’s top programs, exceling in preparing teacher candidates to be highly effective teachers. The accolade is highlighted as an element of NCTQ’s newest book, Start Here to Become a Teacher, which was released recently.

“Of course, I am very pleased that our program was recognized by NCTQ as one of the top 120 programs—out of 872,” said Dr. Don Schillinger, Dean of the College of Education. “While our faculty and students are dedicated to integrating multiple standards-based and data-driven components into their professional development, we appreciate many of NCTQ’s selection criteria. I’m proud of our program’s positive impact, as recognized by NCTQ, on future teachers and the students they will serve.”

This is not the first time this program has been honored by the NCTQ. In 2016, NCTQ listed Tech’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program as No. 4 nationally.

The NCTQ is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization that reviews and ranks universities’ education programs according to their teaching preparation strategies. It prides itself in helping to ensure that every child has an effective teacher and that every teacher has the opportunity to be effective. 

Using nearly two decades of extensive research in teacher preparation, Start Here to Become a Teacher assessed programs on critical, evidence-based measures, including the following:        

  • Rigorous admissions process;
  • Emphasis on research-based approaches to teaching reading, math, science, and social studies for elementary candidates;
  • Content knowledge and curriculum assessment for secondary candidates;
  • Training in classroom management strategies that meet the needs for all students; and
  • Quality student teaching experiences.

“The universities named in Start Here are exemplary in their dedication to training the next generation of great teachers,” says Kate Walsh, NCTQ President and the book’s author. “We commend these institutions for the thoughtful manner in which they’ve grounded their approach to teacher preparation in what research shows to actually be effective.”

Through Louisiana Tech’s unique year-long residency program, undergraduate students have a wonderful opportunity to receive support and guidance and build relationships with their mentor teachers and professors while participating in their year-long apprenticeship experience. 

The interconnectedness of the undergraduate coursework provides teacher candidates with the proper balance of both theory and practical application. Building rich relationships with the teacher candidates allows students to grow both individually and collectively with their colleagues through collaboration and communication with faculty and staff. Teacher candidates help each other understand how to best implement content in the classroom and become successful educators.

“As we prepare our teacher candidates, we believe that our top stakeholder is the student sitting in PK-5 classrooms. All instructional decisions are filtered through this lens,” said Tech assistant professor Dr. Libby Manning. “With built-in field experiences, professors work with children in PK-5th grades conducting demonstration lessons in those classrooms, while teacher candidates actively observe, annotate, and note the effectiveness and efficiencies of the teaching strategies, and then collectively debrief following the observation lesson. This exercise challenges students to assess various teaching strategies and training in classroom management prior to beginning their year-long residency program.”

About the College of Education
Louisiana Tech University’s College of Education features nationally recognized faculty and undergraduate and graduate programs in kinesiology, psychology, and teacher and leader preparation. The college seeks to be recognized as an inclusive learning community renowned for fostering competent, ethical, and caring professionals who contribute significantly to a diverse and dynamic world through research, development, and application. We strive to provide high-quality educational experiences for students across the lifespan, enhancing and extending knowledge bases through research and other scholarly activities, and to serve the community through collaborative endeavors.

About the National Council on Teacher Quality 
The NCTQ is a nonpartisan research and policy group committed to modernizing the teaching profession and based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. We recognize that it is not teachers who bear responsibility for their profession’s many challenges, but the institutions with the greatest authority and influence over teachers. For more information, visit


Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) students won 10 medals at the National SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, KY, June 25-28, 2019.  

The following students received eight gold medals in four categories and two bronze medals in two categories:

Paul Vu – GOLD medal in Related Technical Math

Cody Retiz & Hannah Retiz – GOLD medal in Community Action Project

Sara Patterson, Chris Hale, Danny Foots & Emily Barmore – GOLD medal in 
          Broadcast News Production

Sydney Green – GOLD medal in Prepared Speech

Juan Flores – BRONZE medal in Principles of Engineering & Technology

Alex Richardson – BRONZE medal in T-shirt Design

“We are exceptionally proud of all of the BPCC students who qualified for the national SkillsUSA competition,” said Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr, BPCC Chancellor. “To qualify, they first had to win gold medals at the State Skills qualifying event last April. This year’s national competition was historic for us as we saw the greatest number of BPCC students bring home medals. I am proud of these students, their instructors, and their advisors for the extra time and effort they’ve all put into this successful outcome.” 

Twenty-six students from BPCC competed in the national competition. The SkillsUSA National Championships include more than 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students –– all state contest winners –– competing hands-on in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Students work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting and culinary arts. Contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations, and test competencies are set by industry.

Two BPCC students, who were elected to serve as SkillsUSA state officers for the next year, also attended a three-day leadership-training while at the national competition.  Sara Patterson will serve as Louisiana’s president and Ethan Hagan will serve as vice president.

BPCC faculty/staff mentors in the different categories prepare the students for the competition each year and attend the competition for guidance and support. Faculty/staff attending include Communication & Performing Arts faculty members Melanie Lea, Jennifer Robison, and Jonathan Elmore; Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics faculty member June Schneider and Steven Turner; Program for Successful Employment Director Cindy Heying; and BPCC staff members Jim Boyter, and Kim Condon.


BPCC’s “Super Saturday,” set for Saturday, July 20, offers prospective students a one-stop college registration event on a “Saturday.” The BPCC campus will be OPEN for this special “Super Saturday” event from 9:00 am-1:00 pm on Saturday, July 20 at 6220 E Texas St, Bossier City, LA. Super Saturday will begin in Building G.

“Super Saturday was created to meet the needs of the Shreveport-Bossier community,” says Jennifer Smith, Academic Advisor. “Students who work from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday now have the opportunity to register for classes without missing time from work. The event is also an excellent opportunity for new and existing students to meet with their academic divisions and receive one-on-one advising.”

Students can get information on degree plans, day and evening classes, and non-credit courses; sit for placement testing; meet with advisors; register for classes and financial aid; and experience campus life.

BPCC staff members from Admissions, Academic Advising, the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid, the Business Office, and others will be available to assist students through the application and registration processes as well as with class schedules, course selection, financial aid applications, and placement testing.

Fall 2019 classes begin August 8. If someone is unable to make the Super Saturday event, BPCC’s regular, on-campus registration is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6. 

For more information on registration, Super Saturday, or fall classes, visit or contact BPCC Admissions by phone at 318-678-6004 or by email