Songy announces run for BESE

Staff reports
Donald Songy

Former Ascension Parish School Superintendent Donald Songy has announced he is a candidate for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in the Oct. 22 election.

Songy, D-Prairieville, says his 38 years of experience as a classroom teacher, school administrator and district superintendent make him uniquely qualified to be elected to BESE, which is charged with providing direction, guidance and support to teachers and school administrators throughout the state.

“I have been at the forefront of meaningful reform at each level of education, and I understand the types of initiatives that will improve students’ academic achievement,” Songy said.

Songy, 60, is a candidate for the District 6 seat, which represents Livingston and Washington parishes, and parts of Ascension, East Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa parishes.

“We cannot afford to blindly accept the advice of people with little or no actual teaching experience who may be quick to throw out new programs and fads year after year, or to propose  ‘magic bullet’ solutions.  These things don’t  work.  We have lost education dollars that we can’t afford, and we’ve squandered time for learning for too many of our children,” he said.

“A large number of our schools and school districts have made remarkable progress in student achievement by using proven, well-researched initiatives that are designed to bring about meaningful, long-term reform,” he said.  “I will work with our professionals who are on the cutting edge of reform and who embrace new ideas to ensure that we implement and invest in sound strategies, and that we support policies for hiring and retaining effective  teachers in every classroom.”

Songy served as superintendent of Ascension Parish Public Schools from 2006-2010, when the district built and opened five new schools and its district performance score ranking improved to No. 4 in the state.  Prior to that, he served as assistant superintendent of the district from 1999-2006, and as personnel director from 1994-1999.  Songy was principal of Dutchtown Elementary School from 1985-1994, when his school was awarded Model School Status in the statewide program to upgrade reading.  He began his career in education in 1972 as a classroom teacher.

Songy holds a master’s degree in education and superintendent’s certification from Louisiana State University, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Louisiana Tech University, where he graduated summa cum laude.  Songy also is a certified public accountant (inactive status).

He is volunteer member of several community boards of directors, including St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, the Ascension Fund for Educational Excellence, the Ascension Community Theatre, and the Ascension Credit Union.  He is a charter member of the Rotary Club of East Ascension and was named Rotarian of the Year in 2006 and 2011.

Songy is an Eucharistic Minister at St. John the Evangelist Church, and he serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, helping abused and neglected children.  He was named Ascension Parish Volunteer of the Year in 2011.

Songy and his wife, Kerry Stern Songy, recently celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary.  They are the parents of Meg LeBlanc (husband Adam) and Bryan Songy, and the proud grandparents of Elise Louise LeBlanc. 

“For Louisiana to prosper, it is essential that we have quality public schools in every community.  All of our schools and school districts need to improve.  I pledge to pursue meaningful initiatives, embraced by all stakeholders, to bring about sustainable growth in student achievement across our state,” Songy said.