Honoring school volunteers from across the State

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana’s Volunteer of the Year Ceremony was held on June 9 at the Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge. Thirty-eight former educators, parents, grandparents, and mentors from twenty-six parishes were recognized for their dedication to both students and teachers in Louisiana’s schools.

These thirty-eight volunteers were selected by teachers throughout the state. They were nominated by members of A+PEL, a nonprofit professional education association committed to advancing teachers as career professionals. By focusing on professional development, teacher advocacy, and excellence in education, A+PEL works tirelessly to empower Louisiana’s youth for future success.

Jody LeBlanc was recognized as Ascension Parish’s Volunteer of the Year.

LeBlanc volunteers at Pecan Grove Elementary under the direction of Principal Marjorie Meyers. Although his days of being a parent of a student at Pecan Grove Elementary are over, LeBlanc remains an active presence on campus. He is referred to as “Uncle Jody” and enjoys having lunch with the early childhood students.

LeBlanc, along with a group of concerned citizens, created the #sitstrapsave initiative in response to two students losing their lives in an automobile accident. This initiative was created to bring awareness to proper restraints in motor vehicles. LeBlanc personally contacted the Alliance Safety Council and has been instrumental in getting this initiative off the ground. Over 150 booster seats have been distributed to eligible preschool and school aged children of Ascension Parish. With Mr. LeBlanc leading the charge, awareness campaigns regarding proper restraints for children have been staged at nine events.

Additionally, his daughter is a member of the East Ascension High School band and he is an active Band Booster. He has prepared and served meals at band camp, pulled the band trailer to football games, and worked on fundraising committees.

When questioned about his passion for volunteering, LeBlanc responded, “Volunteering is an opportunity to give back to the school system that has given so much to my own children and family. My son is autistic and began receiving services at 18 months of age until he graduated at age 20. There were many teachers and other staff members that touched his life and that helped inspire me to reach out to other children.”

LeBlanc was awarded with a plaque of recognition and appreciation. All guests were invited to a reception with their family members, teachers, administrators, politicians, and A+PEL Directors/Board Members.