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Ascension Schools announce leadership appointments

Staff Report

Ascension Public Schools announces the appointments of new school leaders. Julian Surla is a new Assistant Principal of Donaldsonville High School, Michael Hilton is the new Principal of Lowery Middle School, Kasielyn Smith is the new Assistant Principal of Lowery Middle School, Latoyia Green is the new Principal of St. Amant Middle School, and Matthew Herring is the new Assistant Principal of St. Amant Middle School.

"It is always a pleasure to introduce leaders that are in new positions," said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander. "Although meeting restrictions delayed their formal introduction, these leaders have been hard at work since the start of the school year. Our students, teachers, staff, and communities are fortunate to have them in our schools."

Donaldsonville High Assistant Principal

Julian Surla is a new Assistant Principal at Donaldsonville High School.

Julian Surla, Assistant Principal at Donaldsonville High School

Born in New Orleans, Surla is a resident of Ascension Parish and is entering his 19th year in education. He began as a social studies teacher at Destrehan High in St. Charles Parish before moving to Dutchtown High School. In 2014, Surla became the Principal of Early College Option, a new program that jointly enrolls high school students at River Parishes Community College. After 5 years at ECO, he became an administrator at RPCC, where he worked for 1.5 years before returning to Ascension Public Schools in this new position.

Surla earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Southeastern Louisiana University. He and his wife, Yvette, have two children enrolled in Ascension Public Schools.

"Thank you for the opportunity to come back to Ascension Public Schools to serve in this capacity," said Surla. "I worked in higher education, and I missed being with kids and being at the high school level. When the opportunity came to work with the fabulous team at Donaldsonville High School, I couldn't resist. I love it here, and this is where I want to retire."

Lowery Middle School Principal

Michael Hilton is the new Principal of Lowery Middle School.

Michael Hilton, Principal of Lowery Middle School

A resident of Baton Rouge, Hilton is entering his 17th year as an educator. He started his career in Baton Rouge, where he served as a teacher, coach, dean of students, a teacher for instructional support, an administrative dean of students, and a graduation coach. In Ascension Parish, he served as a TAP mentor teacher, and most recently, as an assistant principal at Donaldsonville High School. Among his many responsibilities at DHS, Hilton oversaw intervention support, led professional development, and supported the development of an annual school improvement plan.

Hilton earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a minor in English and a master's degree in educational leadership from Louisiana State University.

"Have you ever worked with a young student who didn't believe in himself? I was that kid," said Hilton. "I want to find that young kid who doesn't believe in himself and help him succeed. I am honored that you would entrust me with such responsibility. I promise you day in and day out that I will give it my all. I will treat them the way I wish teachers had treated me. I will treat them like I treat my own children."

Hilton and his wife, Jaime, have four children: Michael IV, Manuel, Mercy, and Miah.

Lowery Middle Assistant Principal

Kasielyn Smith is the new Assistant Principal of Lowery Middle School.

Kasielyn Smith, Assistant Principal of Lowery Middle School

A lifelong resident of Ascension Parish and a graduate of East Ascension High School, Smith taught in various capacities at Donaldsonville High School for 10 years. In addition to teaching career education, speech, and core subjects, she served as a cheer sponsor, DECA sponsor, graduation coach, mentor teacher, and master teacher. In 2017, Smith served as an administrative intern at Lowery Middle and Gonzales Middle schools.

Smith earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Louisiana State University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Texas Tech University.

Her son, Antonio, is in the third grade.

"It is truly an honor to be able to serve alongside Mr. Hilton and continue to serve the Donaldsonville community at Lowery Middle. I am grateful for this opportunity and excited to see how far we can take the Tigers in the future," said Smith. "I will miss the family that I have built at DHS, but I am excited to know that we now have an opportunity to strengthen the transitions from LMS to DHS due to the relationships we have formed over the past years."

St. Amant Middle Principal

Latoyia Green is the new Principal of St. Amant Middle School.

Latoyia Green, Principal of St. Amant Middle School

Born in Chicago, Green had dreams of becoming a lawyer. After earning a bachelor's degree in political science from Southern University, she was accepted into Southern University Law Center. While waiting for the fall semester of law school to begin, Green substitute taught at LSU Lab School and fell in love with education.

She completed the alternate teacher certification program in secondary social studies at Southern University and began her teaching career in 2002 at Dutchtown Middle. In 2005, Green because an instructional coach for Lake Elementary, Central Middle, and Galvez Middle. She served as a mentor teacher at Lowery Middle before being appointed Assistant Principal at St. Amant Middle in 2009. 

In addition to her bachelor's degree and alternative teacher certification, Green is pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Southeastern Louisiana University. She and her husband of 23 years, Vernell, have two sons: Jared and Jaden.

"I am elated to continue to serve the St. Amant Middle School community as principal," said Green. "I believe leadership is not given; it is earned. Keeping this in mind, we will continue to serve our students and support our teachers while making sure our partnership with the community is strong in that we are a listening ear and compassionate to their needs.”

St. Amant Middle Assistant Principal

Matthew Herring is the new Assistant Principal of St. Amant Middle School.

Matthew Herring, Assistant Principal of St. Amant Middle School

Herring's 11-year career in education began in 2009 when he served as a teacher at Dutchtown High School. In 2015, he became a mentor teacher at Lowery Middle School. From 2016 to 2019, Herring served as an instructional coach at St. Amant High School.

Most recently, he served the 2019-20 school year as an administrative intern at Dutchtown Middle and Prairieville Primary. 

Herring earned a bachelor's degree in history with a concentration in secondary education from Louisiana State University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Southeastern Louisiana University.

He and his wife, Nicole, have two daughters: Emma and Ella.

“Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to serve as Assistant Principal at St. Amant Middle School. I appreciate the honor, privilege, and trust Ms. Green has placed in me," said Herring. "Our school motto is 'Together, We Make It Happen.' This is what we aim to model every single day. We value excellence and high expectations with a positive and caring environment for our staff and students. We welcome feedback and ideas, and we intentionally aim to involve the school community in our shared decision making. Without their input, we would not be as successful as we are capable of. I look forward to carrying that work out every day at St. Amant Middle."

For more information about Ascension Public Schools, visit www.apsb.org/.