Louisiana School Boards Association holds Trailblazer Event

Calcasieu Parish School Board officials share how they overcame challenges presented by COVID-19 and the hurricanes
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The Louisiana School Boards Association held it’s fall Trailblazer Event Monday in Lake Charles. The event strives to bring school board members from across the state together to learn about current education issues and learn more about best practices in the education sector.

The theme of this year’s workshop was “Back to the Basics.” It was inspired by the past unprecedented year and challenging educators to go back to the basics even when challenges are presented.

“With so much going on that’s considered special circumstances, the pandemic, hurricanes and weather related events recently, we decided that this year’s theme, ‘Back to the Basics,’ was very fitting,” said Robin Cosenza, project manager for LSBA.

Topics of Monday’s event included managing school board policies, having an effective board meeting, and identifying the necessary pathways to success for school board members.

“Focused on recharging, reconnecting and redirecting in all of our efforts,” Cosenza said. “Some of those things that we do in the day-to-day seem to fall by the wayside because the special circumstances have required so much attention from us.”

LSBA leaders released a press release about the workshop.

“We chose this theme because so much attention has been required by the special circumstances in 2020 and this year, that some of the most basic school board processes need to be revisited and possibly adapted,” said Executive Director Dr. Janet Pope said. “It’s a way to recharge and redirect our plan of work while moving forward this year.”

“It’s hard not to find ourselves in repeat mode of dealing with these same circumstances, so we wanted to provide a positive framework for our school board members to use during the 2021-2022 school year,” said President Patricia Russo.

Calcasieu Parish School Board officials spoke at the workshop and shared difficult challenges they overcame with the pandemic and storms, and how they re-engaged the community following school closures due to COVID-19 and the hurricanes.

CPSB superintendent Karl Bruchhaus and Public Information Officer Holly Holland shared lessons they’ve learned over the past year with other Louisiana school districts.

“We were able to share the journey we’ve been through communication wise, district wise, staffing wise, all of the different aspects of what those different challenges have brought to us.” Holland said.

Holland said she was glad they were able to share their story at the meeting today and help other educators in Louisiana. She said right after Hurricane Ida hit, she was on Zoom calls and speaking with other information officers in the state about what she and Bruchhaus did after Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

She said while their plans may not have been perfect, she was able to share some perspective along with a blueprint for other districts to follow.

“It’s not something that I would wish on anyone, but I’ve certainly been very happy that we’ve been able to help them through this challenging time since we have certainly walked in their footsteps.” Holland said.

Overall, some helpful advice she presented was to communicate with people in the community as much as possible while these damaged communities work to rebuild.

“I think the most important thing is just sharing that you care and that you’re with your people, and that’s been our message for the last 18 months since March 2020 with COVID, and that’s the message that we encourage others to share.” Holland said.

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