National award winner Irma Trosclair tapped as turnaround administrator in Lafayette Parish _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Irma Trosclair, principal of South Crowley Elementary School, seen on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2015, in her office. Trosclair was one of seven principals in the country chosen to recieve the U.S. Department of Education's Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership.

The Acadia Parish school principal hired as the Lafayette Parish School System’s first school improvement administrator told the School Board on Wednesday that she’s committed to ensuring that all children succeed — regardless of their backgrounds or obstacles.

“I know without a doubt because I’ve seen it happen in two schools — I know that it is the adults in a school setting that make a difference,” said Irma Trosclair, who will start her job in Lafayette on Dec. 14. “Adults, not children, are responsible for academic student growth and success.”

Trosclair will work with three elementary schools: J.W. Faulk, Alice Boucher and Carencro Heights, Donald Aguillard, Lafayette Parish schools superintendent, said.

Aguillard had proposed the new position, which was approved by the board last month. He said he wanted to hire an experienced principal to advise principals at low-performing elementary schools in the district.

Trosclair has spent the past three years as principal of South Crowley Elementary. The U.S. Department of Education recently named South Crowley a National Blue Ribbon School for bringing up performance scores and close the achievement gap among the school’s poor and struggling students and their other classmates.

The school received the national recognition during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., last month, and Trosclair was honored there as one of seven National Blue Ribbon School principals to receive a national school leader award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Trosclair also was principal at Eunice Elementary for 10 years and was its leader in 2010 when the school was named a National Blue Ribbon School for five consecutive years of high achievement. The recognition led Trosclair to mentor principals at high-poverty schools in other parishes, including Lafayette.

Trosclair told board members Wednesday that the accolades she’s received have been due to the hard work of teachers and students at those schools.

As she talked about her teaching philosophy, the staffers who accompanied her to the board meeting and others in the audience dabbed tears from their eyes.

She used an analogy to describe her philosophy for educating children who may come from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds, comparing it to placing a dollar bill in a vending machine. It’s easier to place a crisp bill in the slot, she said, while a crumpled bill is another story. The value of the dollar is the same — but it takes a bit more patience and work to straighten out the wrinkled dollar and get it to produce what we want from the vending machine, she said.

“There is no difference in the value of children regardless of appearance and once we recognize that we just have to work a little harder. … We have to be creative and dedicate a little more time, the end result can be the same. Without a solid educational foundation, children face poverty and incarceration,” she said.

Board member Tehmi Chassion told Trosclair that school leaders are excited about working with her and that she fills a great need in the system.

Chassion’s district includes J.W. Faulk, which in the past few years has received an F accountability letter grade from the Louisiana Department of Education.

Aguillard has said those F and D rated schools in the district will be referred to as “emerging schools” to neutralize the stigma associated with the letter grades. The accountability labels for elementary schools based on 2014-15 student performance has not been released yet because those scores are expected next week.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.