Teachers from high schools in Brusly and Hammond, and principals of schools in Vermilion Parish and in Baton Rouge were among 48 educators who received awards from the Louisiana Department of Education on Friday.
Kimberly Eckert, an English teacher at Brusly High School, and Thomas Byler, principal of North Vermilion High School, won overall honors in the teacher and principal categories.
The honors were announced before a crowd of about 700 people at the 11th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala held at the Crowne Plaza Executive Center in Baton Rouge.
"The educators honored tonight are a fine representation of the high-caliber professionals we are fortunate to have in Louisiana schools," State Superintendent John White said in a news release. "This is a chance to celebrate the profession of teaching, a chance to recommit to the effort of ensuring our teachers have what they need to do their job well."
Kimberly Eckert, who has been teaching for nine years, was named the State Teacher of the Year. Besides teaching English, Eckert has worked as a special education inclusion teacher, a reading interventionist, a speech teacher, a mentor teacher, a master teacher and an instructional coach.
Eckert has secured several grants and has presented about her work at local and state conferences, according to her biography. She has twice been named the regional Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (LACUE) Teacher of the Year and has received the Kagan Scholarship and Discovery Star Educator award. When she worked at Port Allen Middle School in 2012-2013, she was selected as her school district's Middle School Teacher of the Year.
Byler was recognized as Principal Of The Year for his leadership at the A-rated North Vermilion High School in Maurice. That school's performance score grew 26 points in a three-year period. A veteran educator with 26 years in school, Byler previously serve as North Vermilion's assistant principal, athletic director and head football coach. Before becoming an administrator, he taught biology, physical science and algebra 1.
Also receiving awards were Angelina Drago, a Hammond High Magnet School teacher who was selected as the High School Teacher of the Year, and Cleo Perry Jr., principal of Crestworth Elementary School in Baton Rouge, who was named Elementary School Principal of the Year.
Joshua John David Paul, a St. Helena Parish teacher, was a Teacher of the Year finalist.
The awards ceremony was co-sponsored by the nonprofit organization Dream Teachers, which strives to recognize outstanding educators.