July 21, 2008

Off the Clock: Leader, Jefferson Parish Public School System

By Moises, Christian

Age: 56

Family: husband, Larry McDonald; and stepdaughters Stephanie and Celeste

Education: bachelor's degree in English education and a minor in newspaper journalism, University of New Orleans; master's degree in curriculum instruction, UNO; doctor of philosophy in educational administration; UNO

Hometown: New Orleans

There was a time the leader of the Jefferson Parish Public School System was not sure education was for her.

"I wasn't always dead set on education," Superintendent Diane Roussel said.

Her college entrance English and math test scores were equal, but she chose English education because of her love for reading and writing.

"Then I had some doubts about that, probably in my second year, and I went to strictly English and I even toyed with geology," Roussel said. "But I went back to English education because being true to yourself and knowing that teaching is really for you, I think sometimes people waffle on that."

What was your favorite subject in school?


And your least?

Because of the way it was taught, Social Studies. We sat in the desk most of the time and filled out ditto sheets. It was kind of the workbook approach. That's where I think the teacher comes in.

Who was your favorite teacher in elementary school?

Mrs. Martin in fifth grade at St. Stephen's. She started me on the school newspaper. I started in the city in Catholic school and finished at Bissonnet Plaza, then on to T.H. Harris and Riverdale High.

Were you voted any superlative during your senior year?

I had an "A" average but was in a class of 900. I was always homeroom president but I wasn't a superlative. My alumni class voted me the person who stayed the longest at Riverdale because I went to school there, taught there and was principal there. I was editor of the paper.

What are three things you need to survive the day?

Every night I pray because of the magnitude of this job. The strength, the courage and the wisdom to do the right thing. If there's a fourth, it would be patience.

What's the biggest misconception about teachers?

That it's an easy job. We've had people who cross over careers. ... We have gotten some excellent people that way and we've gotten some people who think ... you're off all these days and what they find out is this is a lot of work.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Being in charge of the Jefferson Parish Public School System and the

re-creation of the system. ... I will be happy sitting on my porch in my

rocker saying I was part of that.

Credit: Christian Moises

(Copyright 2008 Dolan Media Newswires)

(c) 2008 New Orleans CityBusiness. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.