Spanish Lake Primary Principal Britton Colon is a semifinalist for 2017 Louisiana Principal of the Year. This is the third year in a row that Ascension Parish public schools has a principal in the running for the state’s top honor, a news release from the Ascension Parish school system said. Former Gonzales Primary Principal Jaimee Williams was a 2016 finalist and former Pecan Grove Primary Principal Marjorie Meyers was the 2015 state winner.
“We have a strong tradition of excellence throughout our district and are thrilled that the hard work and dedication of our leaders are consistently recognized at the state level,” said Ascension Parish schools Superintendent A. Denise Graves. “Principal Colon is certainly deserving of this honor as he has led both student enrollment and performance growth throughout his tenure at Spanish Lake Primary,” she said.
“I am humbled and honored to be considered for state principal of the year. At Spanish Lake Primary, we do the best work we can every single day, and to see that stand out among the state makes me proud for our school, students and teachers. It validates the hard work of our faculty, staff and students,” Colon said.
Since it opened under Colon’s leadership in 2009, Spanish Lake Primary has consistently achieved high student performance scores. It is currently rated as an A school and achieved the Louisiana Department of Education’s “Top Gains School” distinction in 2015, 2013 and 2012, the release said.
The ability to grow student achievement while integrating new curricula and accountability measures is what Colon is most proud of.
“The standardized test has changed several times in the last seven years, and what it asks of the students is very challenging,” he said. “Yet, our students have stepped up and grown the academic index of our school every year. That speaks volumes for the efforts of our teachers and students.”
Colon prefers to lead by example and is an active participant in teacher development. Just this year, he served as a guest lecturer for fifth- and fourth-grade math classes and participated in teacher cluster meetings to review student growth plans.
“Rarely will I mandate things because I want to work in collaboration with teachers. I would not ask them to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself,” he said. “We have a family atmosphere at Spanish Lake. It sounds corny, but we are all in it together.”
Originally from Wauseon, Ohio, Colon has lived in Louisiana for 20 years.
He earned an associate of applied business from Northwest State University College before serving in the Navy for five years. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from LSU Alexandria and a master’s degree in educational leadership from LSU.
His tenure in Ascension Parish began in 2001 when he was hired by Gonzales Primary to teach fourth grade. He then went on to serve as a teacher/coach at Central Elementary.
Following his year as a teacher coach, Colon served as an administrative intern at Dutchtown Primary and Prairieville Middle, which led to an assistant principal appointment at Dutchtown Primary for two years.
Colon was named principal of Spanish Lake Primary in January of 2009 before the school opened for the 2009-10 academic year.
Colon credits Pat Sanchez, the director of Ascension Parish Head Start, for giving him the opportunity to transition from teacher support to administrative leadership. Sanchez was the assistant principal at Gonzales Primary when he taught fourth grade, and he was assigned to be her intern when she transitioned to principal at Dutchtown Primary.
“I learned so much from Mrs. Sanchez, and we still stay in touch. We are like-minded in regards to educational philosophy and have similar leadership styles,” he said.
Another big influence on Colon’s leadership style was Erin Babin, Spanish Lake Primary’s Instructional Leadership Partner.
“When she was appointed two years ago, it was a turning point for me. Mrs. Babin worked closely with me and our leadership team to align our practices with those that have been successful across the district,” said Colon.
The Louisiana Department of Education will announce teacher and principal of the year finalists in May and the winners on July 15 at the 10th annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration.