Superintendent Patrice Pujol to retire after 39 years

Ascension Parish Schools
Donaldsonville, La. – Ascension Public Schools Superintendent Patrice Pujol has been named President of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Pujol will retire on March 1, after 39 years in Ascension Public Schools, including six years as Superintendent.

Ascension Public Schools Superintendent Patrice Pujol has been named President of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Pujol will retire on March 1, after 39 years in Ascension Public Schools, including six years as Superintendent.

"As hard as it is for me to think about leaving Ascension Public Schools after 39 years, this is an opportunity that I just cannot pass up. At this stage of my career to be able to take the passion and the great experiences that I have had in Ascension and propel that to a national arena in order to impact kids across the country, is something personally and professionally energizing for me," Pujol said.

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), founded and chaired by Lowell Milken, provides educator effectiveness solutions in teacher leadership. NIET supports states, districts and schools in attracting, developing, supporting and retaining high-quality human capital in order to raise achievement levels for all students. Dr. Gary Stark currently serves as NIET's President and Chief Executive Officer. Stark will remain CEO with Pujol taking on the responsibilities of President.

Pujol made the announcement at a meeting this morning with school principals and district directors.

"This opportunity comes not really because of me. It comes because of your (principals and directors) leadership and what we have created together. Each and every one of you have been a part of creating, implementing and pushing the vision of every child successful in an ever-changing world. If this were just my vision, I might be worried about walking away from our work, but it's not my vision, it's your vision," she said.

A native of Ascension Parish, Patrice Bourgeois Pujol began working in Ascension Public Schools in 1977 as an English teacher at East Ascension Junior High School (now Gonzales Middle School). She went on to become an assistant principal and principal at St. Amant High School, then Director of School Improvement and Assistant Superintendent for the district.

Pujol became the first female Superintendent of Ascension Public Schools on July 1, 2010. During her six-year tenure:

Ascension Public Schools earned an "A" district rating for four consecutive years in Louisiana's accountability system and is currently ranked fourth in the state

School performance grew district-wide. Specifically, schools increased "A" and "B" ratings by seven, decreased "C" and D" ratings by three and eliminated all "F" ratings

A Turnaround Zone was implemented in 2011 for intensive support and intervention of low performing schools with the use of the Teacher Advancement System (TAP). In 2012, Ascension Parish earned the TAP District of Distinction Award. In 2015, Pecan Grove Primary earned the prestigious TAP Founders Award, a national recognition given to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of TAP.

In 2015, the district implemented the Teach Ascension program, a district-based teacher alternative certification program to prepare new teachers to teach in Ascension schools trained in the principles of TAP

The district expanded its One-to-One Program, which provides students with a personal computing device to augment learning in the classroom and at home. Currently, every fifth through twelfth grade student is provided either an iPad, Google Chromebook or laptop computer

Dutchtown Middle and Lake Elementary became the first schools in the country to install Promethean's new ActivWall in classrooms. The 102-inch smart board uses Class Flow Connect software to enhance classroom learning and collaboration

Construction began on new freshman academies at three of the four district high schools in 2015. The freshman academies will serve dual purposes of expanding high school capacity and providing a seamless transition between middle and high school to improve academic success

In partnership with River Parishes Community College (RPCC), Ascension created the Early College program where students can dually enroll in high school and RPCC to achieve an associate's degree simultaneously with a high school diploma. The first graduates of that program will be in 2017

To ensure effective leadership succession, the district created the Ascension Leadership Academy, which provides intensive training for potential school and district leaders. Gradates of this two-year program have gone on to become assistant principals, principals, master teachers and instructional leadership partners.

“We have established great leaders throughout the district who are living, dreaming and acting on our collective vision of student success every day. There is no greater legacy I could ask for,” Pujol said.

A two-time graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Pujol earned a Bachelor of Science in French Education and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the Hammond university. She also earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Supervision from Louisiana State University.

Pujol's professional honors include serving as the 2015 Louisiana State Superintendent of the Year and one of only four finalists for National Superintendent of the Year.

She and her husband of 32 years, Tim Pujol, have two children, Jacques Bourgeois and Andre Pujol, and five grandchildren: Andrew Chaney, Marceline Dauser, and Addie, Aslyn and Ayra Bourgeois.