2017 Louisiana Teacher of the Year

Joni Smith, Albany Middle SCHOOL

Joni is a proud 7th grade Science teacher at Albany Middle School in Livingston Parish. With 8 years of teaching experience she has grown into a powerhouse of an educator. She was also recognized as the 2016 LSTA Middle School Teacher of the Year.

She has a gift for leading the struggling students to success. She removes the negative labels from her students and replaces them with positive ones that allow them to become leaders in the classroom and their communities. This small town teacher has a BIG vision to be a bold advocate for all students, no matter what zip code they live in! 

Follow Joni Smith on her blog at https://lastoy2017.wordpress.com/blog


Stay passionate!
Passion is what inspires students
to believe that THEIR passion matters.
— Joni Smith

2018 Semi-Finalists

  • Grant Gussman, Advocates for Academic Excellence in Education, Inc.
  • Chasity Hatsfelt, Allen Parish
  • Melissa Blanchard, Assumption Parish
  • Jennifer Heard, Belle Chasse Academy
  • Rosemary Grimm, Bossier Parish
  • Donna Granger, Cameron Parish
  • Shanda Besson, Central Community School District
  • Alex Bell, Collegiate Academies 
  • John Underwood, EBR Parish
  • Brittany Smith, Edward Hynes Charter School
  • Lorraine Fedison-Winder, FirstLine Schools, Inc.
  • Mandi Keigley, Iberia Parish
  • Brenda Simmons, Jackson Parish
  • Lana Myers, Jefferson Davis Parish
  • Sarah Gros, Lafayette Parish
  • Marcy Mahler, Lafourche Parish
  • Tameka Star, Natchitoches Parish
  • Ingrid Rachal, Orleans Parish
  • Sarah Butler, Rapides Parish
  • Joshua John-Paul, St. Helena Parish
  • Jennifer Brock, St. John the Baptist Parish
  • Angelina Drago, Tangipahoa Parish
  • Rachel White, Webster Parish
  • Kimberly Eckert, WBR Parish

The Teacher of the Year Process

The process for selecting a Louisiana Teachers of the Year begins at the local level. Each school within every public or public charter school district is eligible to select a Teacher of the Year subject to their own selection criteria. Those individual local school nominations are sent to the District level for further review and consideration.

Each District Superintendent or public charter school District may select three outstanding teachers to forward to the State Department of Education for competition at the state level. Of the three District nominations, there will be one elementary, one middle school, and one high school teacher selected.

The Louisiana Department of Education continues a review and evaluation of all District candidates submitted. To learn more about the Teacher of the Year selection process, contact LDOE at louisianabelieves.com/teaching/award-programs. Questions regarding the selection process or on-line applications should be directed to the department.

The 2018 Louisiana Teacher of the Year will be announced at the 2017 Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala to be held on July 28, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge. This event is dedicated to recognizing and honoring Louisiana’s outstanding educators, and is jointly sponsored by Dream Teachers and the Louisiana Department of Education in cooperation with the Louisiana Association of Principals.