Jessica Deon, fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at Rosepine Elementary School in Vernon Parish, was selected as a semi-finalist for the 2021 Louisiana Teacher of the Year award. 

“The Louisiana Department of Education is proud to announce the 2021 Teacher and Principal Of the Year semi-finalists. These educators are making exceptional gains with students, guiding them to achieve at the highest levels in the state. Their commitment to student success exemplifies Louisiana’s teaching profession,” stated the LDOE. 

Deon, a child of a Navy retiree, aspired to teach in a military community, believing her childhood experiences afforded her a unique perspective to support military-connected students. 

To follow her desire to pursue a career in education Deon obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Northwestern State University of Louisiana. 

In 2007, Deon accepted a teaching position with the Vernon Parish school district, home of Fort Polk, Louisiana, at Rosepine Elementary as a 5th Grade ELA teacher.

In 2013, Deon changed which subjects she taught, but continued to teach 5th Grade. 

Deon has been teaching Louisiana students for 15 years, using her classroom as a way to create a melting pot that allows students to feel comfortable and to celebrate students’ cultures, experiences, perspectives, similarities and differences.

The challenges of a highly-mobile school population drive Deon to continually research both local and national teaching practices that best support diverse student needs. 

When asked about being a semi-finalist Deon said, “It feels surreal! I strongly believe that the Vernon Parish school district provides some of the best educational opportunities in Louisiana for its students. I am grateful and humbled for the opportunity to represent the hardworking educators, students and stakeholders of Vernon Parish,” Deon said. “I entered this competition at the behest of my current and former students. Their unwavering support has motivated me each step of the way. I have great pride in representing my Eagle family and appreciate their faith in me to do so. I simply cannot wait to celebrate this milestone with them in person.” 

Recognized as a highly effective teacher, Deon has earned an average composite Value-Added Model score of 98.5 since 2013. 

In addition, Deon has been interviewed and quoted in several national publications for her work with Remind, an educational communication program.

In 2019, Deon and her students were awarded National School Specialty Honor Roll classroom, featured on the front page of the American Press, and recognized by both Robert Redford’s Environmental Legacy Group and non-profit organization charity: water. 

“So many people comment on the stressors of teaching and I am commonly asked why I remain in the profession despite the obstacles. I always say that the answer is quite simple: teaching is the gift of steady positivity. Adults are bombarded daily with the problems, differences and impossibilities in the world. In my classroom, however, I get to see the hope, the dream, and the determination,” shared Deon. “Adults are so quick to separate, labeling themselves and others. In my room, I am able to cultivate the natural desire to befriend and love others. We don’t see differences; we see common goals. I am in a position to touch the future by encouraging students to better themselves and their world. When most adults fear our future and the direction society is heading, my job gives me the joy of anticipating the future. I believe in it, because I get to sculpt it,” said Deon.

Deon seeks to utilize the platform of Teacher of the Year to encourage collaboration, partnership, and unity amongst teachers from all corners of the state.

Vernon Parish, all of the students you have impacted, and the State of Louisiana are lucky and grateful for teachers like you.