A trio of outstanding educators was recently named as the district’s parish-wide Teachers of the Year. Alecia Desselle of Chalmette Elementary School, Heidi Scharfenstein of St. Bernard Middle School, and Justin Templet from Chalmette High School were chosen by a panel of judges to represent the district in the upcoming regional competition for Louisiana Teacher of the Year.
Desselle, a fifth-grade math and science teacher, is a 7-year classroom veteran. A great motivator and role model, Desselle is an active part of the school and a positive influence on its culture. She is the cheer coach, the sponsor for 4-H and the garden club, and a member of the district’s diversity board. She said that education equity is a passion and appreciates her school family who recognizes the importance of teamwork. “Each child has a heart and mind ready to be molded,” she said.
Heidi Scharfenstein, an eighth-grade ELA teacher, is a graduate of the Teach St. Bernard Alternative Certification program. After years in the private sector, Scharfenstein joined her sisters by becoming a certified teacher in St. Bernard Parish. She said she is so happy to be in the classroom and works to help every child. “The thoughtfulness and attention to detail that goes into helping students reach their goal is a skill that teachers must adapt, constantly keeping in mind that EVERY student — no matter the background or demographic — is of equal importance and deserves as much opportunity as the next child.”
Templet is this year’s parish-wide High School Teacher of the Year. He teaches tenth and eleventh-grade English III, AP Language and Composition, and has been working at his alma mater for five years. In addition to his classroom duties at Chalmette High School, Templet sponsors the school’s literary magazine and co-sponsors the drama club and the ambassador program. He also works as an English instructor at Dillard University through Educational Talent Search. He refers to each of his students as a Templet Teen. “With that title comes the personal responsibility to ensure that each high school student in my room is provided with the individual means with which to succeed.”
Superintendent Doris Voitier said she appreciates the community leaders who served on the panel to select this year’s winners.
“The judges told me how impressed they were with each of our nominees,” she said. “I think this is a testament to the incredible work taking place in all of our schools. In a time when attracting and retaining good teachers is crucial, these school winners represent the best of the best. We are proud of each of them and congratulate our three district-wide winners who will represent us well in the regional competition.”