A day before their students return, roughly 3,000 East Baton Rouge Parish public school teachers will board buses Wednesday morning to see and hear for the first time from their new superintendent, Warren Drake.
Drake is holding this back-to-school convocation at Bethany World Prayer Center, 13709 Oak Bend Drive, Baker.
Drake took over Louisiana’s second-largest school district on June 1, days after students and teachers left for summer break.
He is not the first superintendent to hold a districtwide assembly prior to the start of the school year: His predecessor, Bernard Taylor, had one in August 2012, just after he started. But they are infrequent. They also leave teachers with fewer hours to prepare for the 42,000 students expected to show up Thursday.
Drake, however, said this gathering is necessary so teachers can hear firsthand his vision for where he wants to take the school system: “They haven’t heard it. They need to hear it.”
The convocation will last from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. When it’s done, teachers will reboard buses to return to their schools.
Bethany is a frequent host to large gatherings, including local high school graduations. Drake said it’s one of the only venues in the parish big enough for assemblies of this size.
The audience will include not just teachers but also many dignitaries.
The school system has commitments to attend from the presidents of LSU, Southern and Southeastern Louisiana universities; the chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College; Mayor-President Kip Holden; four members of the local legislative delegation; four representatives of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; as well as other business and community leaders.
Drake acknowledged that Wednesday morning is likely to be hot and that many school buses lack air conditioning.
“Our kids are going to have to get on that bus, so why shouldn’t we?” he said.
Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.