• ST. LOUIS, MO, November 3, 2011 – The St. Louis Public School District is pleased to honor the following faculty and staff members who have earned recognition amongst their peers as experts in their field.


    Dr. Wanda LeFlore

    Dr. Wanda LeFlore, principal of Kennard Classical Junior Academy, has been selected to serve as a member of the Administrators’ Task Force Advisory Panel for the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).   The Task Force is comprised of invited administrators who have direct experience serving as a principal or superintendent in a school setting.  The charge of the task force is to:

    • Assist NAGC in engaging school leaders around the country to build awareness about the needs of high ability learners and how to meet them;
    • Provide direct feedback on potential programs, publications, services and messages targeted to these key educational leaders; and,
    • Improve NAGC’s suite of services and the knowledge base targeted to elementary, middle and secondary school principals, as well as district superintendents.


    Kennard Classical Junior Academy, under the leadership of Dr. Wanda LeFlore, meets the unique academic and affective needs of the gifted and talented student. It is the only full-gifted elementary school in Missouri and has been recognized as a Missouri Gold Star School and a No Child Left Behind-National Blue Ribbon Award School.


    Ms. Deidra Thomas-Murray

    Ms. Deidra Thomas-Murray, the District’s Students-in-Transition Coordinator, will be presenting at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth’s National Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. Her presentation, entitled “I’m Homeless But I’m Not Alone”, will be delivered on Monday, November 7.


    Ms. Thomas-Murray, a former social worker from New Orleans who provided foster care for more than 178 children during her tenure, arrived in St. Louis homeless by way of Hurricane Katrina. It was during that time she learned firsthand the struggles and frustration of students and their parents when it came to enrolling students.  Because of this, she brings life to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, advocating for the educational rights of homeless children and unaccompanied youth. 


    Ms. Monica Freese

    Ms. Monica Freese, an educator at Griscom School, has been chosen as the St. Louis Public School District’s High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year. An educator with the District since 1993, Ms. Freese has excelled teaching “at-risk” populations by crafting lesson plans developed specifically for non-traditional learners.


    Ms. Freese was recommended by Mr. James, Harris, Principal at Griscom School, who stated, “Being an educator in an alternative environment brings with it a unique set of challenges. Educators in this environment must be able and willing to continuously alter and modify their plans to meet the needs of an ever changing student population. For this reason teachers must have a wide range of teaching techniques and tools at the ready. Ms. Freese meets these challenges exceptionally each day.”


    Ms. Marie Thompson

    Ms. Marie Thompson, an educator at L’Ouverture Middle School since 2009, has been chosen as the St. Louis Public School District’s Middle School Social Studies Teacher of the Year. An educator with the District for more than 10 years, Ms. Thompson’s teaching philosophy is based on the concept of “ownership.” As a teacher, she prepares herself with the professional knowledge needed in order to facilitate quality lessons for her students. Students must also show ownership in their learning by being held accountable for the content they learn.


    Ms. Thompson was nominated by Mrs. Carol Battle-Barnes, a retired principal, who stated, “Ms. Marie Thompson possess a high level of personal accountability and is committed to providing students with quality instruction and learning opportunities. She uses effective classroom management practices embedded in strategies that build respect and cooperation. She has always provided innovative materials and project for authentic assessment of her instructional program.”


    As the Social Studies Teachers of the Year, Ms. Freese and Ms. Thompson have each received a $1,000 check through the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation. They will also each receive two plaques, and a $500 certificate for professional development from the Parsons Blewett Memorial Fund.


    For more information, or to identify an extraordinary member of the SLPS team, please contact the Office of Public Information (314) 345-2367.