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Ajit S. Pethe
Luling Elementary School
St. Charles Parish Publics
Luling, Louisiana

During his six-year tenure at the low-income prekindergarten through grade five Luling Elementary School, Principal Ajit S. Pethe has reversed its reputation as an underachieving school to a continuously improving academic institution with rigor-ous attention to learning strategies.  Pethe’s strong leadership includes a “no excuses” attitude relating to student behavior, quality teachers, and a positive school climate. The principal’s highly organized process for supporting struggling students includes small, grade-level data teams that follow a strict protocol of examining student work, developing and implementing customized instructional strategies, and monitoring resulting performances.  Luling focuses on the Common Core Standards which are most essential to student success, categorizing students into proficiency groups and developing common instruc-tional strategies for them.  A “no complaining” rule ensures that faculty and staff don’t mindlessly complain but go directly to the person who can address the grievance, and monthly surveys give Pethe feedback from staff and help him monitor the pulse of the school.  With a focus on teacher capacity-building, Pethe observes classrooms daily, discusses research-based practices with staff weekly, and conducts informal learning walks with his administration team monthly.  St. Charles’ superintendent notes that Pethe’s leadership is responsible for the school’s performance increasing from seventy-five to 102.3 points on tests, and colleagues say that his data teams serve as a district model.  Pethe holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Education from the University of New Orleans.