A Bossier Parish teacher has been awarded one of the top honors when it comes to education. Cory Joy Craig was announced as the Louisiana Middle School Teacher of the Year at the 17th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educators Excellence Awards Gala where hundreds gathered Saturday night in New Orleans.
Craig is the band director at Benton Intermediate School in Bossier, where she has won the hearts of her
students and colleagues alike. She credits her own seventh grade band director for instilling her passion for music, offering encouragement and giving Craig an outlet to be successful after emerging from life in foster care.
“He pushed us and encouraged us no matter what we were going through at the moment; that there was a future, that we had something to look forward to, that we were working hard toward a common goal. And that radically changed my life from focusing on being a victim to focusing towards being a victor in everything that I get to do and that helps shape everything I choose to do and plan to do in the classroom and out,” Craig said.
It was in middle school that Craig vowed to one day become a band director. She says her greatest desire now that she has fulfilled that dream is for her students to know they are loved, they are capable of accomplishing incredible things and that there is a future in music, whether it is their main career or just a part of their life.
“What’s running through my mind right now is the exciting opportunities I get with this honor,” Craig said
immediately following the awards ceremony. “I am able to impact our education system, hopefully for good; for music class, for our foster care students, for students who need that teacher to love them even in their hardest moments; and hopefully I get to encourage teachers across the state to love fully, compassionately and with understanding to help these students succeed wherever they’re at.”
Three other Bossier Parish educators were also celebrated at the gala. New Teachers of the Year state finalists Camille Cole, who teaches at Platt Elementary, and Brad Winstead, a first year educator at Airline High School, were honored, as well as Elm Grove Middle School Principal Michael Pedrotty, who was a state semifinalist for Principal of the Year.