An Ascension educator with a doctorate in educational leadership and 21 years in the teaching field has been named the 2022 Middle School Principal of the Year by the state Department of Education.
Jeremy Muse is principal at Lake Elementary School in St. Amant, the only pre-K through eighth-grade school in the parish.
He joined the school as principal in 2016, right after it flooded in that summer's catastrophic flood. Lake Elementary students attended school that fall at three host sites, before returning in March 2017 to their home campus on La. 431; temporary classroom buildings helped until the school was fully restored.
In January 2020, a fire broke out in a classroom at the school while a basketball game was underway. Two students from the opposing team, Central Middle, saw smoke in a hallway near the gym and alerted officials, who safely evacuated everyone there. The fire, caused by electrical equipment, was contained to the one classroom.
Then, last year, Lake Elementary, like other schools across the nation and world, coped with COVID-19.
"We've had flood, fire and pandemic, and we just keep going," said Muse, a native of Walker, who holds a master's degree in Educational Leadership from LSU, with his doctorate in that field from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
He got his bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts from Northeast Louisiana University, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he attended on a band scholarship.
He went on to receive his certification in teaching at the university and was working a summer job with a car rental company in Bastrop, when he drove to Eastside Elementary, a school now closed, to pick up the principal and bring her to her rental car.
"I got there and heard the principal on her phone, saying 'Where am I going to find a sixth-grade math teacher at this time of the year?'" Muse remembers.
He literally walked into his first teaching job that day.
Muse has been a math specialist in East Baton Rouge Parish and taught in the Baker school system, before coming to Ascension Parish in 2005 to teach at Central Elementary.
After completing an administration internship in 2007, Muse became assistant principal at Central Middle, a position he held for nine years before being named principal of Lake Elementary.
"It's really a lot of fun being in the principal role," said Muse. "You get to work with students and you get to work with adults."
In the latest release of Louisiana's school performance scores, Lake Elementary earned an "A" grade, as well as "Top Gains" honors, which means the school demonstrated exceptional student progress ensuring students met or exceeded their learning goals each year.
"You try to put together the best team you can to help your students grow," he said.