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|McDaniel brings voice of rural schools to BESE|
Most of the schools in Louisiana are in rural communities, and Tammie McDaniel, a newly appointed at-large member of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), plans be a voice for those schools.
Gov. Bobby Jindal recently named McDaniel, who was born and reared in Crowville and now lives in Oak Ridge, as one of three at-large board members to serve alongside the eight elected members.
McDaniel's experience in education stretches from years in the classroom, to serving as principals at Lee Jr. High in Monroe and in Bastrop at Morehouse Parish Magnet School. But it's the education she received from first grade through graduation from Crowville High School that laid the foundation for her insight into the needs of schools in rural northeast and central Louisiana.
"Who I am is Franklin Parish," she said. "Growing up here I was brought up committed to family, church, community and school."
The daughter of the late Doris and C.M. Ashley of Crowville, McDaniel said she benefitted from her family's attitude regarding the importance of discipline, education and community service.
"When I was growing up I was expected to behave, work hard and help others," McDaniel said. "Expectations were very high in my family."
Education runs in McDaniel's blood. After the Civil War, her great-great grandfather started a small public school in Winn Parish, her aunt was one of her math teachers at Crowville, her sister Pam Ashley teaches eighth grade at Crowville and her brother, Gale Ashley, who was a champion high school athlete at Crowville, recently retired from teaching in Texas.
"Our family has always valued education. There are lots of teachers in my family," McDaniel said.
McDaniel holds a degree in political science from Louisiana Tech and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
McDaniel is well versed in the programs and directives issued on a state and federal level when it comes to education. She spent several years as accountability specialist at Neville High School where, "I did whatever had to be done to improve test scores" and she worked with students on the verge of dropping out of school.
"Kids drop out one at a time, and that's how you have to deal with the situation, one student at a time. You have to find out where the problem is and work with them to make it where they will stay in school," McDaniel said.
Last week, just after she was appointed by Jindal to BESE, McDaniel resigned from the Richland Parish School System where she was providing professional development for teachers working with at-risk students. She left that paying to position to devote more time to the non-paying BESE post.
"My phone has been ringing off the wall since the appointment," McDaniel said. "I've already had superintendents and principals calling me."
McDaniel said her commitment to community service once again hails back to her upbringing.
"This is one of the values I learned growing up in a small town," said McDaniel, who noted her mother was instrumental in getting the first fire district in Crowville.
"I was raised that you do it all, and you do it all with gusto," McDaniel said.
This week McDaniel is in Baton Rouge at BESE headquarters meeting other members and staff and becoming familiar with the education topics and elements that will begin her four-year term.
McDaniel said her presence on the board is a reflection of how Gov. Jindal feels about this part of the state.
"During the campaign Bobby Jindal came to northeast Louisiana many times and he saw the quality of people here. He realizes how important education is to bringing in jobs," she said.
"I hope that I can be a voice for people in the classroom. That I can look at some of the proposals and know if they will actually work when it comes to the teachers and students," she said.