Lori Charlet is a Principal of the Year Semifinalist

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Lori Charlet

Gonzales Middle School Principal Lori Charlet is a Semifinalist for Louisiana Middle School Principal of the Year. This is the fourth year in a row that Ascension Public Schools has a principal in the running for the state's top honor. Spanish Lake Primary Principal Britton Colon was a 2017 semifinalist, former Gonzales Primary Principal Jaimee Williams was a 2016 finalist and former Pecan Grove Primary Principal Marjorie Meyers was the 2015 state winner.

"Lori Charlet is an exceptional leader, and we are so proud that her work is being recognized at the state level," said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander.

A native and current resident of Donaldsonville, Charlet attended Ascension Catholic and graduated from Donaldsonville High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Nicholls University and a master’s degree in Administration and Supervision. She started her career at Lowery Middle School where she taught seventh and eighth grade English Language Arts for nine years. She has a family full of educators, including her parents, sister, and her own daughter, who has been a teacher at Gonzales Primary for seven years. Her mentors include Edith Walker and Dr. Patrice Pujol, who have held high expectations for her and encouraged her to do her best.

Charlet’s experience at Lowery taught her the importance of relationships with her students and their parents. She thinks it is important to “pick up that phone” because a parent or guardian can help solve any problem in the classroom.

In July 2001, Charlet became assistant principal under Charles Barbera who taught her to fight for her students and what she believes is right, a value she held near to her heart in becoming principal of Gonzales Middle School (GoMS) in August 2006. As principal, Charlet’s biggest challenge has been making sure the community knows GoMS is a wonderful school to attend. While promoting a positive image, she wants her staff to truly believe in their school. “We celebrate everything here,” Charlet said. “There’s no accomplishment too small.”

Charlet’s proudest moment as principal occurred in 2016-2017 school year when she had almost no teacher turnover. Her staff believed in the mission of growing kids and were able to achieve a 14.3 point growth in performance at GoMS, the largest middle school growth in the state. Charlet prides her teachers in that they truly got their students to believe in themselves. “I credit this to the collaboration of staff through the Teacher Advancement Program and focusing on high quality student work.” In using this program, Charlet was able to compete beyond the walls of her own school at high levels.

As a principal, Charlet’s main focus has been to show her teachers that she values them by being a listening ear. “I am never too busy to listen to a teacher. I am available 24/7. Just as I want them to attend to children,” Charlet said, “Everything is collaborative here.”

Not only does Charlet make sure to communicate with her teachers, but she also keeps parents in the loop. She gives parents opportunities to engage in learning twice in the Fall and Spring semesters, and invites them to student-led conferences where students get to analyze goals. Charlet believes it is important to keep parents involved, but not only in negative situations: “I do not just call when there is a problem. I want to celebrate your children with you, too.” Charlet meets with parents before school hours to accommodate their work schedules.

Gonzales Middle keeps a heightened presence on social media about their staff and students to keep the community posted with what is happening throughout the week. “I owe it to our community that everyone knows how awesome our school is.” Charlet said she does this because she wants to recognize the people who make GoMS the school it is. “I have to praise my people. It is so important, making people feel significant.”

Charlet has a gift and a passion for working with children and hopes to make it to 40 years, which tacks on 13 more years to her education career. Her plans for the next 13 years include establishing a means for helping children with their mental health, ensuring that they are emotionally and mentally stable. She wants to “create a culture of caring for kids,” because they deserve the best.

“I am so proud to represent Gonzales Middle. We are putting ourselves out there so proud to showcase what our students and staff are doing. They do the work and I just remove the obstacles!” Charlet said in light of her recognition.

The Louisiana Department of Education will announce teacher and principal of the year finalists in May and the winners on July 27, 2018 at the Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration. Visit www.louisianabelieves.com/teaching/award-programs for more information about the recognition program.

Contributed by Ascension Public Schools