EATEL honors Ascension teachers

Staff reports
Ascension teachers were recently presented with annual technical education and math educator grants by EATEL. Shown during the presentation are, from left, Ginger Weber, Mandy DeLaune, EATEL’s Robert Burgess, Tracy Swacker, Superintendant Donald Songy.

EATEL presented two education grants in honor of Ginger Weber and Donald Songy, two educators who have dedicated their careers to Ascension Parish students.

The first annual Donald Songy Math Educator Grant was presented to Tracy Swacker, a Master Teacher at Donaldsonville High School, and the second annual Ginger Weber Technical Education grant was awarded to Mandy DeLaune from St. Amant High School.

Both awards, created and funded by EATEL, celebrate Ascension Parish teachers who are driven to provide meaningful educational experiences that help students not only learn skills in the classroom, but also develop real-life workplace skills and become lifelong learners. Each winner received $500 in recognition of the work they have done in their fields.

“Tracy Swacker is not only an excellent educator, she is also a courageous leader who will step out as needed to bring about positive change,” stated Patrice Pujol, Ascension Parish assistant superintendant.

Swacker works with practicing teachers to build their capacity and enhance their teaching experiences. She plans to use her grant to purchase materials and supplies for cooperative learning structures that support student engagement and help implement activities in the comprehensive curriculum.

“Mandy DeLaune has a great passion for teaching and tremendous experience in technical education,” said Ginger Weber.

In her career as a Technical Education teacher, Mandy has taught everything from ABC Welding and Agriscience I, II and III to Landscape Design, Construction and Maintenance, and Veterinary Assistant training.  In order to continue providing her students with the most vital and state-of-the-art technology, Mandy plans to purchase a computerized welding evaluator with her grant.

After 38 years of service Ascension Parish School Superintendent, Donald Songy is retiring from the Ascension Parish School System this June. Under his leadership, the parish has moved from among the top 10 school systems in Louisiana on school performance scores to an unprecedented fourth place in the state.

Songy also led a successful campaign in 2009 to secure $100 million in funding from parish taxpayers to address maintenance and repairs for aging schools. Several district campuses will be either renovated or rebuilt with the money raised through the successful bond extension.

Ginger Weber retired in 2009 from the Ascension Parish School System after 31 years. She was instrumental in helping the school system receive diploma endorsements as well as promoting post-secondary dual enrollment and increasing rigor for students in their senior year. Weber also developed the first parish job fair in 2008 that involved several hundred high school juniors and seniors applying for local jobs.