Members of the John S. Dawson Foundation highlighted the education pioneer's contributions during a presentation Jan. 25 for Gov. John Bel Edwards at the Governor's Mansion. Dawson, who died in 1950, had a 58-year career teaching African-American students in the Laurel Hill community

The foundation's goal is to create a community center on the property that once was John Dawson High School. The high school on La. 66, which opened in 1951, was the first institution to offer high school-level education to West Feliciana African-American youth. The school thrived until it was closed with the start of desegregation in 1969.

"We were so appreciative of Governor Edwards to take time with us to hear the wonderful story of John S. Dawson and the legacy of excellence in education that he brought to the parish of West Feliciana," Superintendent Hollis G. Milton said.