Ronald Lofton, Sr.

Position: Principal

School: Winnsboro Elementary School

School District: Franklin Parish School Board

City, State: Winnsboro, Louisiana

About the Nominee: Ronald Lofton Sr. was nominated by his spouse, Christi Lofton. Mr. Lofton is a dedicated educator and principal of a school that is filled with at-risk minority students. When he took the reigns in 2009 as principal, Winnsboro Elementary was facing many challenges. The school is now a "B" rated school according to Louisiana's state accountability system.

Mr. Lofton has achieved this through his strong leadership abilities. He leads by example. He insists that teachers and staff not only provide top quality instruction to the students, but that they also care about the students. His students struggle financially and in their personal lives, so they need a welcoming, caring school to provide them with stability.

To say that Mr. Lofton has touched the lives of students would be an understatement. He has changed the lives of students by making sure they are provided an outstanding opportunity to learn. His commitment and caring nature will motivate these students to stay in school and change their lives.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="rlofton@fpsbl.us"]

Jennifer Whitehead

Position: Middle School Physical Education Director and Head Coach

School: Einstein Charter School

School District: New Orleans Public Schools

City, State: New Orleans, Louisiana

About the Nominee: The hard work and dedication Jennifer Whitehead puts into helping her students makes her a LifeChanger at Einstein Charter Middle School. She is a returning Physical Education Director who leads girls and boys' Physical Education classes in grades 6-8 using Sport Education and Health curricula. This role also includes coaching competitive sports teams in basketball, volleyball, soccer and track. Coach Whitehead, better known as "Coach J," teaches students from very diverse backgrounds and helps them succeed in school and everyday life. She has taught Physical Education and Health and coached extra-curricular sports activities for nearly ten years. During this time, she has proven to be very successful in working with urban youth and under-served communities. She truly loves making a difference in her students' lives as well as their families' lives through education, sports and physical fitness activities.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="coachjw10@gmail.com"]

Megan Stewart

Position: Middle School and High School Dance/Yoga Teacher School: Einstein Charter School

School District: New Orleans Public Schools

City, State: New Orleans, Louisiana

About the Nominee: Megan Stewart was nominated by a colleague, Jennifer Whitehead.

Ms. Stewart is an extremely hard working educator who is dedicated to the students and communities she serves. She has a unique ability to meet the needs of all students through her vibrant personality, as well as her ability to speak multiple languages within a diverse educational setting. Ms. Stewart loves teaching dance and yoga to all of her 6th-9th grade students, who learn peaceful practices that they can use throughout their daily lives. Her dance and yoga initiative at ECMS has truly made a positive impact on students and staff, which has led to an improvement in school culture!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="megan_stewart@einsteincharterschools.org"]

Gary Jackson

Position: Third Grade Math Teacher School: Barkdull Faulk Elementary

School District: Monroe City Schools

City, State: Monroe, Louisiana

About the Nominee: Gary Jackson was nominated by a colleague, Ericka Kelly.

As an educator, Mr. Jackson is concerned not only with his students’ academic well-being, but the well-being of the entire child. This is because different students require unique catalysts to reach their full potential. In some cases, helping students succeed outside of the classroom can lead to success inside of the classroom. It is because of this belief that he considers the formation of the Barkdull Faulk “Golden Steppers” Step Team as one of his most significant contributions to student lives.

While some might look at creating an extracurricular activity as minuscule in education, there is more to it than meets the eye. By creating the step team, Mr. Jackson not only became the boys' sponsor, but he became their coach, mentor and biggest supporter. Providing students with creative ways to express themselves outside of the classroom comes with high expectations in all aspects of their lives. Mr. Jackson teaches his step team to be leaders, not only within their team, but also in their respective classes, the school and in the community. Little boys, who have never considered college, now perform in front of packed university stages with new hopes and goals of one day reaching the collegiate level themselves.

In this endeavor, he has seen parents who were rarely involved become increasingly involved with their children’s education because they can see what was once untapped potential and energy turn into something they can be proud of. Building young men to become leaders and watching their school, parents, and neighborhood show such pride and place such encouragement into them is so refreshing. Creating “The Golden Steppers” was not just the creation of another activity; it was the start of a movement of parents and students in becoming better together. Each member of the step team has shown an increase in GPA and overall educational effort. In and out of the classroom Mr. Jackson is changing lives!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="gary.jackson@mcschools.net"]

Samuelstine Howard

Position: Lead Teacher/ Teacher School: Madison Parish Alternative Center

School District: Madison Parish School Board

City, State: Tallulah, Louisiana

About the Nominee: Samuelstine Howard was nominated by her principal, Natasha Mosley.

Samuelstine Howard possesses a passion for her students, the alternative school system and the success of her colleagues. She goes above and beyond to ensure every student she teaches or interacts with at Madison Parish Alternative Center (MPAC) is successful in their academics as well as their social interactions. She is concerned about their well-being and takes the initiative to build personal relationships with the students. Ms. Howard addresses both their academic and personal issues. Her passion and instructional expertise is exceptional, well respected, and above all, life-changing and much appreciated by the students, colleagues, parents, and administration of MPAC!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="Samuelstine.howard@madisonpsb.org"]