Money, money, money. That's what the Ascension Parish Schools are all screaming now that Louisiana Superintendent of Education, John White, signed over two checks worth almost $300,000 to APS Superintendent Patrice Pujol last Thursday.

White presented Pujol with the two checks at East Ascension High School in a program where he just wanted to say "thank you" to the APS for their hard work and commitment to student excellence in the classrooms. In the school's performance scores that were announced in October, Ascension Parish earned an "A."

The presentation was no secret as many teachers, and principals gathered to be honored. Also, there were public officials who attended: State Representative Johnny Berthelot, State Representative Ed Price, APSB Richard Brown, APSB President Troy Gautreau, APSB Patricia Russo.

The first check presented was to the 16 Top-gain schools in the parish that was worth $135, 261.15. White said that money is to be used by the schools for "whatever purposes best for their children." The other check was of $150,000 as part of the new Believe and Include grant program

"It's nice to know that what we do works," White said about the teacher's success.

Seventy-five percent of schools in the state showed some growth in their school performance scores, he said. However, "only a few hit their ambitious (growth) targets."

White talked about how the teachers in Ascension Parish work together to learn and "these strategies work, teacher collaboration works."

When White announced the Top-gain schools, Donaldsonville High School was called first. It showed the largest growth in the parish in student's performance scores, when it jumped from a D to a B, improving 26.9 points, on the latest evaluations.

Dr. Esrom Pitre, DHS principal, attended and was proud to be the first called up to stand with White. He grinned from ear-to-ear the entire time he stood with the other Top-gain school principals. When the check is divided, each school will receive $8,453.00 for educational purposes in the school.

"I'm just extremely proud of where we've come from with our team of teachers and support staff who has made a commitment to the Donaldsonville community," Pitre said.

Pitre said the work his teaching staff has done at DHS - inspiring them to be better in the classrooms, hallways and in the community - "has paid off."

"Anytime you make gains such as this you have to look at your team and see how well your team has performed," Pitre said.

DHS wasn't just the highest Top-gain public school in the parish, but in the state too. Pitre said he's proud of that fact and it means a lot.

"When you talk about teacher's commitment and inspiring student, you can't give it up enough for our teachers," Pitre said. "I'm just extremely proud to be amongst this group and I have to definitely thank the parents of Donaldsonville for believing we could make a difference and supporting us."

Pujol's excitement couldn't be hid either as she constantly thanked the teachers for their commitment and work put in to reaching the goals and success reached in the last year.

"I want to commend each and every one of you for role in making that happen."

Pujol talked about the importance of numbers and that they are important only in as much as they represent students' capacity to live a better life because they have the skills they need to be successful in our global economy.

"So, we keep score, yes," Pujol said. "But, let's not ever forget that the reason we keep score is so that kids get the high quality education that they deserve and need in order to be successful."

As far as the money goes, Pitre said he's first going to check to see what the teachers need because they are the ones who earned it, deserved it and will use.

"We want to put right back into helping our teachers help our students becoming more successful," Pitre said. "The first order of business it to just get with the teachers."