Greensburg, La. — t's been a year of polar opposites for schools in St. Helena Parish, as the district went from the worst performing in the state, to showing by far the most improvement out of every other district, on state test scores.
"Very proud of students, parents and teachers," said Superintendent Kelli Joseph.
Starting with a new superintendent, the district also completely overhauled its supervisors at the central office, bringing in a team of young doctoral graduates with fresh ideas on how to deliver overall improvements, of scores and personal character.
"First thing we did is set a clear vision for the system," Joseph said.
Every student in the district starts the day by reciting a daily affirmation of principles and goals.
"Setting high expectations, doing their best, being a leader," Joseph said.
Double-digit gains were accomplished in all subjects. The most dramatic with fourth grade social studies, where students went from a dismal 20-percent pass rate last year, to over 60-percent pass rate this year.
"I mean they really worked hard to accomplish what we did this school year," said Reginald Douglas, principal of St. Helena Central Elementary.
While working on student achievement, the district also battled back one of the biggest budget deficits in the state. Starting at $1.4 million, it's now been trimmed down to over $300,000.
"We are doing a whole lot more with the bare minimum," Joseph said.
School officials said the work is far from over. They plan to work on increasing dual enrollment for high school students, increaing their graduation rate and continued improvement on test scores.