Meet Vermilion Parish Superintendent Jerome Puyau
The first day of school in Vermilion Parish is Monday, and as school starts, their Superintendent will begin his first full year in that role over Vermilion Parish schools. Jerome Puyau began serving in January after he was elected to the leadership role.
Puyau, a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana, got his first teaching job in Jefferson Parish at a middle school, then taught special education at Erath High School for 15 years. He then finished his Masters of Education at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and became an assistant principal at Abbeville High School. Puyau then moved into a supervisor's role over facilities and maintenance for six years. "And that was a lot of really good experience to prepare me for my job now as superintendent," says Puyau.
The motto for Vermilion Parish is "Raising the Bar." When asked about how that is being done right now in the parish and how he looks to expound on that, Superintendent Puyau responded by saying "in every area we can." Puyau immediately pointed to technology, saying that they have invested millions of dollars into it, $1.9 million building up the infrastructure and also the software and hardware that students will be utilizing. "We don't want to replace the teacher," says Puyau. "What we want is a digital companion in which every student has the ability to utilize the technology in the classroom." Puyau also talked about "develop(ing) the entire child," focusing not only on the mind, but the body as well. He mentioned how they are partnering with United Health Care and the local 4-H company to provide not only to the students, but community members, healthy lifestyle living. "We know that we need the community's involvement," says Puyau. "Our parents, our stakeholders, our businesses, we need to have them embrace our children when we are releasing them from our schools."
When asked about the problems that the Vermilion Parish Schools System faces, Superintendent Puyau mentioned the implementation of the Common Core curriculum, which is something he says other schools systems are having to face as well. He says with the Common Core curriculum, there is a lot more emphasis on skills and on utilizing different technologies to allow students to absorb a specific skill. "To do that, we really have to build upon our community, get our parents' involvement and our teachers' involvement and provide more professional development," says Puyau. He then mentioned technology again, saying there needs to be another $4 million invested into infrastructure and computers in order to "place a device in every student's hands."
Superintendent Jerome Puyau's overall vision for the Vermilion Parish school system?
"All students can learn. Every student has the ability to learn. We just have to find a way in which we can modify the curriculum and reach a student on their level. If it's through techology, if it's through a more hands on, auditory, visual, whatever it is, we know that we will be able to work as a team. Our central office staff, our teachers, our bus drivers, everybody working together so we can provide the education and the curriculum that is needed for everyone to be successful. We know all students can learn. We know that we believe in our kids and we will achieve and become one of the best districts in the state."
In Lafayette Parish, it's been well-documented the rough relationship between the school board overall and Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper. But Superintendent Puyau says that's not the case in Vermilion Parish. "We have a very open relationship; a very good relationship," says Puyau. "There is a trust factor; there is a respect factor. Our board is in constant communication with myself...The concerns they have are looked at, vetted out and then brought back to them. We openly discuss issues that need to be discussed as tough as they are. And we still think that it takes a team...I respect their opinions; they respect mine. And we move forward for what's in the best interest of our kids."
To listen to the complete interview that aired on "Your Afternoon Drive Home," CLICK BELOW: