BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – State officials are honoring 10 teachers from Louisiana for their service on behalf of infants, toddlers and preschoolers who come from challenging circumstances.

The Louisiana Department of Education announced Monday that the teachers listed below are finalists for LDOE’s 2024 Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year awards.

Finalists for Louisiana’s Early Childhood Teacher of the Year:

  • Caldwell Parish: Stephanie Eubanks, Kelly Early Childhood Center (Head Start)
  • Lafourche Parish: Phedra Jackson, Lafourche Head Start
  • Rapides Parish: Elizabeth Berry, Foundations Christian Learning Center
  • Rapides Parish: Jennifer Cifelli, Foundations Christian Learning Center
  • West Baton Rouge Parish: LeighAnn LaCour, Port Allen Elementary School (Head Start)

Finalists for Early Childhood Leader of the Year:

  • East Baton Rouge Parish: Tara Emery, London Bridge Early Learning Center, L.L.C.
  • East Baton Rouge Parish: Megan Garretson, Young Scholars Academy
  • Iberville Parish: Xavier Anderson, A Garden of Angels Learning Center/Academy
  • Jefferson Parish: Arielle Hughes, Carousel Preschool
  • Rapides Parish: Jamie Martin, Munchkinland Child Development Centers, LLC  

Each of the finalists work with young children ages 5 and younger who are either:

  • from economically disadvantaged situations,
  • participants of publicly funded programs,
  • persons with disabilities or
  • experiencing homelessness.

The honored educators provide instruction and care to these youths in a Type III childcare center, which means the location directly or indirectly receives state or federal funding to support the needs of children.

They may also teach little ones in an Early Head Start or Head Start Center, or in a Family Child Care site with academic approval.

All of the finalists will be recognized at the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala set for July 22 in New Orleans’ National World War II Museum.

Officials will select one winner for the ECE Teacher of the Year Award, and one for the ECE Leader of the Year Award.

Prizes, which have yet to be announced, will be provided by DREAMTeachers.

“I’m grateful for the remarkable teachers and leaders who support Louisiana’s children during this critical developmental stage in their lives,” said State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley.” Congratulations to the finalists. They represent the many talented early care and education professionals across our state.”

The upcoming awards ceremony will mark the second year LDOE has presented the Louisiana Early Childhood Teacher and Leader of the Year awards.