Like most of you, we have summer traditions, a week with family at the beach. We have Thanksgiving traditions like Mom’s table of plenty, Ginger’s pumpkin roll, and Dad’s smoked turkey. Christmas traditions with our special Christmas stockings hung over the fireplace, special supper on Christmas Eve, etc. Most of us have fun family traditions.
This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I remember as a little girl knowing that every Valentine’s Day, my Daddy would give me a small heart-shaped box of chocolate candy, and Mom always received the large shiny foiled box of chocolates.
John Bel and I have a Valentine’s tradition that started on our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. The tradition began when we were stationed at Schofield Barracks, HI, in 1989, far away from home. Four thousand plus miles away from home, to be more exact. John Bel was gone quite a bit due to military training and protecting the Pacific. One afternoon after I got off work, I had to go to the PX, Post Exchange, to pick up a few things before going home. As I walked through the front door of the PX, I noticed a Valentine’s display. A heart-shaped waffle maker was among the many items suggested for a Valentine’s Day gift. Long story short, I purchased the waffle maker, and we have used it every year on Valentine’s Day. Our waffle maker is now 33 years old and a fun tradition for our children. One of my favorite meals is when we have our heart-shaped waffles and Cutrer’s sausage for supper.
Traditions ground us and give us stability in our lives and our families. And the good news is that traditions don’t have to cost you money or involve a lot of time. In Louisiana and the south, we have tons of traditions. Embrace the culture around you, embrace the love of friends and family, and you will experience a life of joy. Make up your own traditions or pass other traditions down through your family. Having family traditions gives life that special touch. What are a few of your favorite family traditions? We want to know. Ask your children and family what traditions they treasure the most. You will be surprised by their answers. Some of your family traditions may have started without even planning them.
This month’s blog provides encouraging words, reminders of heart health, and ways to bring a healthy start to your year by being conscious of your exercise and food options. It also offers profound words from Susan Russell on keeping Louisiana beautiful and the extraordinary story of a man who contributed to the building of the Mansion through his gift of carpentry.
Mardi Gras is March 1st this year. As we celebrate the many traditions celebrated around Mardi Gras, remember to take time to enjoy a piece of King Cake and laissez les bons temps rouler!
More thoughts on the true goodness of traditions.
To make our Edwards Family Valentine’s Sweetheart Waffle Recipe visit:
FEATURE Let’s Keep Louisiana Beautiful
Love the Boot Week is April 18-24
Executive Director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful
Keep Louisiana Beautiful invites Louisianans to work together to organize and participate in cleanups and beautification events during Love the Boot Week, our state’s week-long Earth Day initiative happening April 18-24. Across the state, we will see involvement from businesses, schools, families, individual citizens, and entire communities.
Litter in Louisiana
Litter is not a new problem for Louisiana’s 64 parishes. For decades, litter has become increasingly detrimental to our communities, leading to a multitude of repercussions such as:
- Blight on natural areas, cities, towns, roadways, and waterways
- The death of wildlife and marine life due to polluted habitat
- Consequential decline in quality of life in neighborhoods
- A negative impact on economic development, hurting investment, infrastructure, and tourism
- Flooding caused by storm drains clogged with litter and debris
The Story Behind Love the Boot
Since 2000, Keep Louisiana Beautiful and its network of 39 affiliates focus on education, enforcement, awareness, litter removal, and beautification. Our goal is to promote personal, corporate, and community responsibility for a clean and beautiful Louisiana. Seeing the need for a statewide effort to address our litter issue, Keep Louisiana Beautiful developed Love the Boot Week. We couldn’t be more excited to get this vital campaign off the ground with the support of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
Let’s Work Together
Sportsman’s Paradise won’t be litter-free overnight. Still, by coming together during Love the Boot Week, we can bring awareness to the issue and take steps toward achieving a more beautiful Louisiana.
Visit www.lovetheboot.org to register your Love the Boot Week event or sign up to volunteer for an existing opportunity. We look forward to seeing how you #LovetheBoot on social media!
Susan Russell, Executive Director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful
Susan Russell has served as Executive Director for Keep Louisiana Beautiful since 2014. Before leading the state office, she spent eight years as a local affiliate director for Keep Mandeville Beautiful.
Her experience specializing in non-profit management, strategic development, program development and implementation, grant administration, event planning, communications, and marketing spans over 30 years. She has worked for the national non-profit organizations, Special Olympics, and Volunteers of America during her career.
Susan serves on the executive committee for the Keep America Beautiful State Leaders Council and the executive committee for Keep Louisiana Beautiful. She serves as a board member for the Louisiana Recycling Coalition and the Ozone Music Education Foundation.
As Executive Director, she leads the only statewide organization focused on litter prevention, waste reduction, recycling, and beautification. She oversees a grants program that has awarded over $3 million to fund local projects, offers environmental education lessons targeting K to 5th-grade students, conducts training and professional development, and supports local communities and a network of 39 affiliate organizations to increase their capacity to facilitate community and behavioral change.
You can view a video from First Lady Donna Edwards about this campaign here.
LOUISIANA FIRST FOUNDATION
On January 24 – April 25, 2022, the Louisiana Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports will host its annual Own Your Own Health (OYOH) Physical Activity and Nutrition Challenges! This challenge is an opportunity for Louisianans to take ownership of their health and physical activity levels by completing various nutrition and physical activity challenges.
This event aims to help combat and eliminate people suffering from underlying health conditions. According to Dr. Johnny Jones, Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at Baton Rouge General, chronic medical conditions, what many may call “underlying conditions” – include diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and kidney disease. (https://www.brgeneral.org/news-blog/2020/march/whats-an-underlying-condition-/). Louisiana has the highest obesity rate in the country, high rates of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and high blood pressure.
The Department of Children and Family Services hopes more families will make a difference in 2022 by becoming foster caregivers for youth in the State’s custody.
There are approximately 800 Louisiana teens in foster care on any given day. These youth account for 1 in 4 of the total population of children in Louisiana foster care. Only 6% of the State’s current foster families provide homes specifically for teens. When there aren’t enough families available for teens, it means teens must leave their schools, friends, activities, and communities. It means disconnection and instability at a time in their lives when young people most need consistency and support.
Fostering a teen in your community will help ensure stability for that young person as they continue to grow and develop. You can encourage and build the solid and supportive relationship they need to reach their fullest potential.
ANTI HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Most people think of women as victims of human trafficking, but it affects males, too. The American Psychological Association reports that “mounting evidence, along with the accounts of front-line psychologists and social workers, shows that men and boys make up a significant proportion of victims of trafficking, validating Procopio’s realization. A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2012 estimated that men accounted for 25 percent of trafficking victims globally. Further, the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons estimated that 27 percent of all victims detected globally were children, and of those, one in three victims were boys.
Additionally, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline identified more than 24,000 cases of human trafficking in the United States from 2012 to September 2016. Of those, 13 percent—or more than 3,000—were men. Boys and men who have been trafficked present with issues that are similar to many victims of complex trauma: poverty, sexual abuse, violence, or living in a home where substance abuse takes place. Behaviors can include drug use, running away, depression, anxiety, and oppositional behavior disorders”. (APA.com)
GOVERNOR'S MANSION Martin Brignac
In 1963, during the administration of Governor Jimmie Davis, the new Governor’s Mansion was built. The inspiration for the exterior design was Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. During the build-out, a gentleman named Martin Brignac worked on the three E Bay windows famously seen in the Governor’s office, Breakfast room, and Capitol Suite located on the 1st and 2nd floors of the Mansion.
He was most recently known as an octogenarian local artist that created 3D art and was even acknowledged at the Governor’s Mansion during the Changing of the Arts for the Tricentennial of New Orleans.
Martin Albert Brignac Sr., a native of Lutcher, LA, and resident of Baton Rouge, LA, passed away on Sunday, April 7, 2019, at his home with his family at his side, at the age of 97.
The Governor’s Mansion will never forget Mr. Brignac and the hard work he dedicated to building the State’s home.
If you would like to help preserve the Governor’s Mansion, please visit our store to purchase one of our unique gifts!
WOMEN'S HEALTH We Have Come A Long Way, Baby
Jessica Thibodaux, APRN, MSN, FNP-C
If you are old enough to remember the old advertisement slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” then continue reading. In the decades since this campaign that appealed to the modern woman was first launched, there has been a dramatic increase in women’s contribution outside the home and more men staying home or working from home. Despite this progression and blending of traditional gender roles and responsibilities, exclusive biological differences in men and women influence cardiovascular health.
Heart disease had been traditionally thought of as a man’s disease by both men and women alike. As an answer to the call for greater awareness of women’s needs beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, more research was dedicated to women’s health concerns. As women age and lose estrogen during menopause, the risk of heart disease climbs to equal that of their male counterparts. This risk may be even higher in women of specific ethnic populations or even geographic regions such as south Louisiana, where risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and poverty are the highest.
In the past, women were less likely to seek care for their heart-related symptoms, and they were less likely to be referred to a specialist for cardiovascular evaluation even when they did. While presenting symptoms are highly variable, women may not exhibit the same typical chest pain from obstruction of larger heart arteries as what happens to their male counterparts. Women are more likely to have microvascular disease, which is a disease in the smaller arteries of the heart that may not even be detected on traditional testing, and present with simply shortness of breath, heartburn, fatigue, or palpitations.
While heart disease remains the #1 killer in the United States, the incidence has been on the decline in recent years. Programs that raise awareness and promote education have empowered women to know their risks, recognize their symptoms, make positive changes, and be their advocates. We really have come a long way, baby.
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 2. Schools
Pass It On – A New Teacher Collaboration
“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other.
Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” -Robert John Meehan
We, as teachers, are continuously learning from other teachers. Collaboration and mentorship from other teachers are essential for our growth process. During my first year as a teacher, I remember having the power to persevere thanks to having an inspirational mentor teacher, Mrs. Alanna Bradford. Her support, guidance, and encouragement helped me survive and thrive during my first year of teaching. As I reflect on my journey as an educator for almost 28 years, I realize that I have continued to learn from the exceptional teachers at the schools in which I have taught and have been able to build a network of collegial support from them.
These are some of my lessons learned.
- Be a Life-long Learner– To be a teacher is to be a life-long learner. Teacher mentoring, teacher coaching, and teacher advice from colleagues is an essential ongoing professional development piece. Continue to listen and learn from others.
- Collaborate– Each year brings new challenges and new learning opportunities. Each year, a new classroom awaits us, filled with students with different interests and learning styles. Collaboration with colleagues is essential to our growth as an educator and to meet the ever-changing needs of our students.
- Embrace Your Uniqueness– As we learn from our mentors, instructional coaches, and colleagues, we are always trying to find a balance. This balance includes learning from other teachers while continuing to process our own unique and evolving teaching styles. As we learn from and collaborate with others, we examine how to assimilate what we have learned into our unique classroom using our own unique teaching style.
By reflecting on my own experience, I have utilized my opportunity as the 2021 Louisiana Public Interest Fellow and the support of my district to design a program to support the needs of new teachers in our district. Pass It On started with the need to provide new teachers with various opportunities to learn from and collaborate with other teachers and have mentors throughout the school and district to give advice. We began to Pass It On before the school year started with an in-person induction professional development day. At the beginning of the school year, each teacher was also assigned a school-based mentor teacher who would provide daily support and guidance. In addition, an instructional coach at the district level was assigned to new teachers to provide hands-on instructional support in the classrooms. Finally, Pass It On also provides a virtual collaboration every two weeks. These collaborations discuss a specific education topic. During meetings, our district’s veteran teachers share advice and take questions from our new teachers. The Pass It On virtual sessions allows each teacher to learn from various veteran teachers or mentors, examine their perspectives, and assimilate what they have learned into their classroom. As a result, the overall program provides teachers with many learning opportunities.
Some of our favorite meetings involved all of our district’s principals and a teacher from each school sharing tips for successful Compass observations. Still, another meeting involved all instructional coaches in the district sharing advice about examining and using student data to drive instruction. In another meeting, veteran teachers shared classroom management tips. Some Pass It On sessions have also hosted special honorary guest presenters such as Grammy Award Winning Educator of the Year, Mickey Smith, Jr; Torrence Williams, 2017 the Louisiana High School Teacher of the Year; Trinette Landry Wallace, the Louisiana 2021 Middle School Teacher of the Year and Louisiana Public Interest Fellow; and Miranda Britt, coauthor of The Tier One Curriculum Trap.
To sum it up, the collaborations through Pass It On sessions allow teachers to gain a community of mentor teachers and various educational perspectives. Here is what educators from our program have to say:
“From teaching me how to set up and maintain a classroom structure to knowing when to leave the work at home and take care of myself, this program has been extremely beneficial to me! There’s not a single meeting that hasn’t given me something to go home and reflect upon: whether it was something about the classroom or just knowing I wasn’t alone in the first year.” – Kaelin Maloid, Teacher at Livonia High School.
“The Pass It On Program is the exact mentorship and more that I wanted when searching for a school district to begin my first year of teaching. This program has equipped me with the skills I needed to become a better educator and connected me with a network of people who are glad to provide advice and assistance to increase my success in the field of education.” – Faith McFadden, Teacher at Stem Magnet Academy of Pointe Coupee.
Even though our Pass It On virtual collaborations facilitate and support the growth of new teachers, each session has allowed me to learn and grow as a teacher. I have enjoyed watching the growth and collaboration of our teachers in the program and look forward to continuing Pass It On in the following school years. Our growth potential is unlimited, and collaborating and seeing different perspectives is genuinely a valuable resource.
2021 State Teacher of the Year Finalist
5th Grade Teacher at Stem Magnet Academy of Pointe Coupee
Pointe Coupee Parish Schools
PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA 3. Military
Honoring Black Veterans During Black History Month
General Charles McGee
During Black History Month, we will honor the Black men and women who have served our state and country. Our first feature is Gen. Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, who recently passed at the age of 102.
Before enlisting in the Army, Gen. McGee pursued entrance to an elite corps for pilot training. He was chosen and sent to Tuskegee Army Air Field where the climate was ideal for year-round flying. Most didn’t finish pilot school, but Gen. McGee did and earned his wings in June of 1943. During his remarkable career, he flew a total of 409 combat missions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Gen. McGee, who held many command posts through the years, received the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the French Legion of Honor and the Bronze Star, among other decorations.
Read more about Gen. McGee in a New York Times article about his life and service at https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/16/obituaries/charles-e-mcgee-dead.html.
FEATURED RECIPE Superbowl Snacks - Poppy Seed Sandwiches
It is almost time for the big game!
The Governor and First Lady will celebrate with friends and serve some of their favorite South Louisiana snacks.
Here is one of First Lady Edwards’ favorites:
Cheers to all of our Louisiana players in the Super Bowl!
1 ½ sticks butter
3 T mustard
3 T Worcestershire
2 T poppy seeds
1 small onion, chopped fine
12 Hawaiian Rolls
1 pound thinly sliced ham
1/2 pound sliced Swiss cheese
Sautee onion in one stick of butter until onions are no longer opaque
3 T mustard
Stir and blend in 2 T poppy seeds
Slice Hawaiian Rolls down the middle
Place sauce on each side
Place ham slices on the bottom
Place cheese on top of ham
Butter the tops of the bread
Place sandwiches on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
MEMORABLE VERSE February 2022
THE FIRST DOGS The First Dogs wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras!
MEET OUR EDITOR Delery Rice
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Delery has lived there all of her life except during undergraduate school and a brief stint in Seattle, WA. She is a mother to four boys, ranging in ages from 21 to 16, and they are the heart and soul of her life.
Delery earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and Master’s Degree from Louisiana State University. She completed a fellowship at Loyola University, New Orleans Institute of Politics, and currently attends Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy. Her volunteer work has mostly evolved from issues that have affected her personally. Actively engaged in disability rights advocacy, Delery has testified numerous times in the Louisiana Legislature regarding issues that affect persons with developmental disabilities. She served as the chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, worked for seven years directing regional advocacy efforts and is a graduate of Louisiana’s Partners In Policymaking.