Jamie Sue Lawrence
Red River Elementary School
Red River Parish School Board
Coushatta, Louisiana

Jamie Sue Lawrence heads a school that formed nearly 10 years ago after a local vote for a consolidation of schools. Some residents had lost a community school and didn’t favor the new school, Red River Elementary. To make matters worse, the school’s first report card showed it needed to improve its performance. Yet during the past six years under Lawrence’s leadership, the school’s annual performance scores have risen from 59.7 to 86.7. At the same time, the school has moved from a rating of “needs improvement” to earning two stars in its state’s evaluation system. Another challenge Lawrence met during her principalship involved retaining the support of her school community despite an event on site that received negative national publicity. Today Lawrence’s rural school has an enrollment of 850 pre-kindergarten through grade 5 students. “One of the greatest accomplishments, I believe, for our school has been to get the students to believe that they can achieve and do as well as any student in the state and nation,” says Lawrence. “Building self-esteem will last a lifetime.” Lawrence’s school empowers students to assist with management duties through school ambassador roles such as serving on a welcoming committee. Lawrence has a B.A. and an M.Ed. from Northwestern State University in Louisiana as well as a B.A. from Baptist Christian College in Louisiana.