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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Meraux Foundation Partners with Parish Public Schools to Prepare More Teachers

During its last meeting, the St. Bernard Parish School Board recognized the Meraux Foundation for its support of a teacher preparation program.

Photo Courtesy of the Meraux Foundation

Contributed by the Meraux Foundation

School systems across the U.S. are facing significant K-12 teacher shortages, and in Louisiana, it has reached emergency levels. To stay a step ahead, St. Bernard Parish Public Schools has partnered with the Meraux Foundation to prepare locals to enter careers in education. The charity is investing in the school system’s teacher preparation program, which provides free tuition and support to those interested in teaching in St. Bernard public schools. 

“Supporting local education is central to our mission of improving the quality of life in St. Bernard, and we’re pleased to partner with the school system on this proactive, long-term solution,” said Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. “My Aunt Arlene, who created our family foundation, cared deeply about education and spent much of her time at local schools. We’re proud to carry on that legacy through our support of education programs.”

The teacher preparation program includes a pre-educator pathway to help high school students enter the profession, a “Grow Your Own” program for paraeducators to transition into teaching careers, support to help candidates pass the Praxis exam and other certification tests, and Teach St. Bernard, which helps teachers gain an L1 Teacher Certification.

Superintendent of St. Bernard Parish Public Schools Doris Voitier said, “The future of our schools and the well-being of our students depends on our district’s ability to recruit high quality educators. Unfortunately, in recent years traditional teacher preparation programs have not been able to produce the number of teachers needed — not only in St. Bernard Parish but throughout the state and nation. As we look forward, our district is turning towards innovative recruitment strategies, but these initiatives are expensive for both the district and individuals within our community who are interested in pursuing a career in teaching. 

“Thanks to the continued commitment of the Meraux Foundation, we are thrilled to have the support to be able to nurture the next generation of teachers. From the annual scholarships the Meraux Foundation provides our high school seniors to this generous contribution to our teacher preparation programs and pipelines, the Meraux Foundation has once again proven their commitment to our community and our schools, and we thank them,” she continued.

Asia Landry, a para-educator at Arlene Meraux Elementary School (and a Chalmette High School alumna), is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in education through REACH University. She is among the first cohort of the Grow Your Own para-educator pathway, and her tuition is being fully funded through the Meraux Foundation. 

“I have such a deep appreciation for the Meraux Foundation and this amazing opportunity that they are providing me,” she said. “I have wanted to pursue a degree in education for so long, and now, I finally have the chance. I am immensely grateful for the Meraux Foundation, and I can’t thank them enough.”

The Meraux Foundation champions education as a central component of its mission to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. Through its annual scholarship program, the Foundation awards 60 scholarships each year to St. Bernard Parish Public School graduates: 50 for academic achievement, four for artistic accomplishment, and six for Career Technical Education (CTE). 

To date, the Meraux Foundation has awarded over 1,000 scholarships to St. Bernard Parish public high school graduates. The charity also supports numerous educational initiatives, including having donated the land for the Arlene Meraux Elementary School, sponsoring student events, partnering with Chalmette High School and Nunez Community College on a CTE program, presenting the Mississippi River Delta Institute, and partnering with the LSU AgCenter to produce AgMagic on the River, among others.

In other Meraux Foundation news, the Meraux Foundation is celebrating 10 years of the current composition of its board of directors. For a decade, the family foundation has been realizing a vision that started with Arlene Meraux. 

When Arlene Meraux founded the nonprofit, she asked her niece, Rita Gue, to manage it with a simple guiding principle: to ensure that the land resources that Arlene transferred to the foundation would be used to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard.

Over the past 10 years, the Meraux Foundation’s current board has been realizing that vision through a strategy focused on land use, education, environment, economic development, arts and culture, and community resilience.

The Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation is a family foundation on a continuous mission to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish. The organization’s roots spread throughout the community to grow the economy, nurture the arts, enrich educational opportunities, empower young people, protect and restore the environment, and create resilience.

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