Meet the new Teach Ascension Academy candidates

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Pictured from left: Jana Myles, Joline Kreh and Ericka Payton

Jana Myles, Ericka Payton and Joline Kreh are the newest candidates of the Ascension Public Schools Teach Ascension Academy (TAA), a year-long alternative teacher certification program. Jana Myles will teach at Lowery Elementary School, Ericka Payton will teach at Donaldsonville High School and Joline Kreh will teach at Gonzales Middle School.

Ascension Public Schools initiated TAA in 2015 as a means to recruit, train and hire teachers from alternative professions or academic programs. The program includes four weeks of intensive professional development over the summer, placement as a teacher during the school year with weekly professional development and master, mentor and supervising teacher support.

Tuition for TAA is $4,000. However, no out-of-pocket expenses are given to candidates as long as they teach in Ascension Public Schools for two years following their training.

Requirements for TAA include:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 2.5 or higher as evidenced by an official transcript,

  • Have passing scores on PRAXIS I (or equivalent ACT/SAT score) and PRAXIS II (content knowledge) for the designated area in which the teacher will be teaching, and

  • Be selected in to the program after participating in a rigorous selection progress.

The program is administered by Supervisor of TAP Implementation and Teacher Development Dawn Love, Instructional Supervisor Nicole Grimes, Executive Master Teacher Mary Daze, Special Education Coordinator Emily Lambert, Lowery Middle Assistant Principal Mark Bell, Central Primary Assistant Principal Erin Esneault, Donaldsonville Feeder System Master Teacher Shelley Farmer and master teachers Laura Freeman, Gina Richard, Stephanie Dagsaan, Lauren Bahlinger, Melissa Caro, and Erin Townsend.

“I am excited to see how excited and eager they are to get in their classrooms to implement what they have learned here so far,” said Emily Lambert regarding candidates Myles, Payton and Kreh.


Jana Myles, born and raised in Donaldsonville, was a student teacher in East Baton Rouge before transferring to Lowery Elementary as a paraprofessional. After obtaining a college degree from Southern University in Family and Consumer Science and Child Development, Myles aspired to run her own daycare.

While working at Lowery, Principal Karen Daigle told Myles she should be in the classroom.

“She saw me and recognized my potential from day one and pushed me,” Myles said.

Myles has begun teaching at Lowery in General Education for fifth grade, and will teach fourth grade once she finishes her alternate certification. Her ultimate goal, however, is to take on a role as principal. “The change does not stop in the classroom,” she said.


Joline Kreh grew up in Ascension Parish, attending grade school at Central Primary and Central Middle, as well as East Ascension High. She earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Kreh put her mathematics degree to work at Mathnasium, a math learning center that serves kindergarten through college-age students with supplemental learning after school and on weekends. She decided in college that the education program was too administrative, when she wanted to work directly with students.

When she finishes her alternate certification she hopes to be able to teach any grade level, preferably middle or high school students. Her mentor in her teaching aspirations is Stephanie Dagsaan, a master teacher at Gonzales Middle School.


Ericka Payton received her undergraduate degree at Southeastern Louisiana University where she double majored in Business Management Finance and Human Resource Management. Payton later received her Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Louisiana State University, leading her into an accounting job before the realization that she wanted to teach. In the pursuit of her teaching aspirations, Payton recently served as a physical education and health teacher at Baker Middle School.

Payton thanks her parents for being her biggest supporters, inspiring her and telling her to follow her dreams. She decided in 2014 that teaching would be her new career path after a few years of indecisiveness. “I am here now, so it is meant to be,” she said. Payton will teach IBCA at Donaldsonville High starting this August.

She wants to influence students who may come from places that make success seem impossible. “My main goal is to reach as many students as I can. It is not about where you come from, but where you are going," said Payton.

For more information about TAA, visit For more information about Ascension Public Schools, visit

Contributed by Ascension Public Schools