In sports there are stats, records and titles to defend. There is sweat, tears and blood that runs in team hues. Episcopal athletes are quite familiar with the hard work and dedication it takes to earn those titles and push the body beyond expectations. Soon the Knights will have a new athletic field house to celebrate the school’s scholar/athlete success. The Episcopal coaching staff is eager to go to work in the new facility, including head baseball and football coach Travis Bourgeois.
For more than two decades now, Coach Bourgeois has been a critical component of the Episcopal athletics family and he wouldn’t want it any other way. He has the most wins of any coach in Episcopal football history, taking teams to district championships and the state semifinals. But that’s not all. After coaching girls’ basketball for 15 years, including two final four appearances, Coach Bourgeois took over as head baseball coach in 2015. In just a few short years, his baseball teams have also earned district titles and made trips to the state quarterfinals.
Competition is in Bourgeois’ blood. He grew up the youngest of three boys in a family in which everyone played sports. “We always competed. I knew I was going to lose, but I wanted to play,” he says of competing with his older brothers. Coach Bourgeois’ first coach was his dad, who worked long hours but still made time for little league, pee wee football or whatever sport was in season. By the time Bourgeois was in high school at Donaldsonville’s Ascension Catholic, he played football, basketball, baseball and ran cross country and track. With such a wide range of athletic abilities, he actually didn’t have a favorite sport. “When it was that sport, I was all in.”
It was baseball that provided Bourgeois and his brother Troy the opportunity to go to college in Kansas. Coach Bourgeois packed up a shaker of Tony Chachere’s and joined Troy to play for Pratt Community College. Bourgeois appreciates the opportunity he had to venture out on his own and says the experience taught him to grow up and to wash his own clothes. He also developed a greater appreciation for home and family meals. With a family tree filled with coaches and a long history in sports, Bourgeois knew what he wanted to do. “I respected my coaches,” he says. “I knew I wanted to get into coaching.” At Pratt, Bourgeois earned Academic All-American honors. He served as the student government vice president and spoke as the student speaker at graduation along with Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996. After graduating from Pratt, Bourgeois enrolled at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At UAB, he continued his previous success, earning Academic All American team honors in baseball, the Kinesiology Award and Academic All-Conference recognition. After finishing his degree, it was time to return home.
Bourgeois married his high school sweetheart, Sheila. The two had known each other since freshman year and started dating as seniors. Bourgeois, the outspoken coach and Sheila, the elementary school librarian, have been together through it all. “She’s the calm to my storm,” says Bourgeois.
Upon returning home, Bourgeois also got a job working for his old high school coach Steve Baronich. That job was with the Episcopal Knights as a PE teacher and assistant football coach. Bourgeois says initially he wasn’t sure about signing on with the Knights, after all he’d played against them while at Ascension Catholic. But, the job was an opportunity to learn under the man he admired. Now, 24 years later Bourgeois is still here, having come to embrace the Knights and the community he calls home.
Coach Bourgeois is consistent. He’s been married 23 years. He’s been at Episcopal 24 years. He hasn’t missed a College World Series in Omaha in 20 years. He even runs three miles a day, six days a week. Part of his secret to success is his ability to treat others as he would want to be treated. He says he learned this after a brief stint as a construction worker one summer during college. He saw what it was like to do a job solely for money and he knew he wanted more. As a coach, Bourgeois also draws on his experience as a parent to treat students fairly. Bourgeois and Sheila have three daughters – recent Episcopal graduate Bailey ’18, sophomore Annslee and sixth grader Elaine.
Coach Bourgeois is looking forward to the next chapter of Episcopal athletics, including the new athletic field house. “It symbolizes health,” he says of the multi-use facility that will be used for physical education, strength training and interscholastic sports. He says the openness of the design will provide a “welcome feeling for non-athletes who want to take care of themselves” as well as the athletes who are preparing to compete. He hopes students will appreciate the facility and the commitment to health and wellness that it represents. He is also hopeful that the field house instills a stronger sense of school pride among students who find themselves wanting to be more involved.
Bourgeois has been a Knight long enough that his next chapter at Episcopal also includes coaching the children of former students or even working alongside former athletes. Bourgeois was at the helm of the girls’ basketball team when a young Taylor Mims and her teammates went to the final four and he is proud to see how Taylor has grown to become the head basketball coach she is today. He also enjoys sharing coaching duties with former athletes and Episcopal alumni Cody Day ‘15, Charlie O’Brien ‘13 and Jimmy Williams ’97. Such an experience shows that his coaching career has truly come full circle. Coach Bourgeois enjoys being around students and seeing how they develop over the years. He says no matter how much the times change he still strives to instill the lessons he’s learned over the years because that never changes. Continuity, consistency, teamwork and drive are as important today as they were when he first became a member of the Episcopal family so long ago.
We look forward to seeing how this next chapter unfolds. As construction progresses on the new field house there is a sense of anticipation and excitement, similar to that feeling before the start of a new sports season. Don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of the action. Click here to learn more about the giving opportunities still available. What a great opportunity to honor a beloved coach, successful alumni or favorite Knight. Go Knights!
Leave Coach Bourgeois a comment below.
Thank you to everyone who has already made a commitment to the 2018-19 eFund.
The eFund started 2019 stronger than ever – Superhero style! We are thrilled to have reached 90% of the $710,000 goal, leaving only $60,000 to raise. Episcopal’s board, faculty and staff have reached 100% participation. Also, parents of six Lower School classes are at 100%. While on pace to surpass last year’s participation level, we are counting on those who have not yet given to help us exceed that mark.
The eFund, the school’s most important giving priority, provides the margin of excellence that makes the Episcopal experience unique and superior. Participation by alumni, parents, grandparents, parents of alumni, and friends is critical to the school’s success.
Don’t forget to say "Thank You" to a teacher, coach, or staff member (past or present) by making a gift in his or her honor. Contribute $100 or more and we will notify your honoree that he or she has been recognized by your donation. Gift amounts will not be included in the notification.
Gifts to The eFund are tax deductible as allowed by law. Pledge now and pay later (by May 1) or via automated monthly installments. If you have any questions, please contact Katie Thompson at 225-755-2741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Teacher Terrific Tuesday approaches next week, make sure to thank a teacher for the difference they make!
These are just a few examples of the highly-qualified teaching professionals at Episcopal. Episcopal teachers are parents, alumni and volunteers. They hold advanced degrees and certifications. They have traveled the world and published works for the world to see. They are experts and they care about their students.
Across the country, 118,000 teachers have earned National Board Certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards says that “through National Board Certification, teachers demonstrate that their teaching meets the profession’s standards for accomplished practice through a rigorous, peer-reviewed and performance-based process, similar to professional certification in fields such as medicine.” Arceneaux says certification is important to her because it reflects her commitment to being the best teacher she can be. “I care about what I do. I work hard to be a better teacher so my students can benefit,” she says.
Becoming board certified or even renewing certification is an impressive feat. Arceneaux says teachers must submit written information about their classroom experiences and videotaped samples of their classroom sessions. For her recent renewal, Arceneaux had to reflect upon her last ten years of teaching and what has changed during that time. “It was a very rewarding experience,” she says. “It gave me the opportunity to look at how I’ve changed as an educator.”
Callaway also appreciated the opportunity to reflect on her work. “By nature, teachers are lifelong learners. I am always seeking ways to fulfill this need,” she says. “Ten years later, working toward my renewal of my certification provided a chance for reflection on my growth as a teacher as well as an opportunity to plan for the future.” For Guarisco, National Board Certification was a valuable opportunity to not only reflect on her craft, but also to connect with others in the teaching profession. “I was among the first few nationally certified teachers in Louisiana years ago, the closest I’ve ever felt to being a pioneer. At that time, teaching could be a lonely profession. There just weren’t the vehicles – Twitter and EdCamp come to mind – to connect with teachers outside your own building,” she says.
Patty and Carl Newton established the Newton Distinguished Faculty Award because of their belief in the difference Episcopal faculty make in the lives of students. Each year the Newton Distinguished Faculty Scholarships are awarded to three outstanding educators to support the professional development opportunity of their choice. In addition, The eFund also supports professional development for teachers. Over the years, teachers have been able to participate in everything from The Teacher’s College of Columbia University Writing Workshop to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Teacher Institute. Read more about available professional development opportunities in Head of School Hugh McIntosh’s Academic Point here.
Episcopal’s teachers are highly-qualified, skilled professionals with approximately 65% of them holding an advanced degree. In addition, many of them have spent time working as a professional in their field of expertise, while others have taught in higher education. While their credentials are certainly impressive, it is what these individuals do every day that sets them apart. “The teachers in this community deserve the world, for they are not only instructors but also mentors and even friends. There is no other administration in the state that I trust would invest as much time into my journey as the administration at Episcopal.” Shannon Ahmad ’18
According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), one of the benefits of an independent school education is the small classes that allow for individual attention. At Episcopal, small class sizes led by highly-qualified teachers afford students a more personalized educational experience because of the relationships that are forged between students and teachers. These relationships are likely what students will remember long after their time on Woodland Ridge is over.
and staff. The Episcopal community is being asked to think back and give back on behalf of all the faculty members who work tirelessly to make a difference in students’ lives. Look for more on the 1965 Minute Challenge next week and don’t miss your opportunity to support your Episcopal educators.
Do you have a favorite Episcopal teacher? Leave us a note about how that special faculty member positively impacted you.
Charles deGravelles, or Chaplain Charlie, as he is affectionately known in the Episcopal community, has returned to Woodland Ridge with a mission – to help students of all ages make connections between academics, everyday life and their ability to make a positive difference in the world. He will accomplish this mission by bringing the Quest for Peace class that he once taught in Upper School to every student in every division in interactive and engaging ways.
Watch the video below to hear Chaplain Charlie discuss his vision for the new Quest for Peace Program.
The Quest for Peace Program has tremendous implications for the entire Episcopal community. “Today we sharpen the profile of our school as a leader in education,” said Head of School Hugh McIntosh as he introduced the program. One component of the program, The Quest for Peace Speaker Series, will introduce students to expert speakers with powerful stories and experiences to share regarding the 2018-19 series theme of displacement. For example, local photographer, conservationist and Episcopal alumnus Frank McMains ’92 recently spoke with Upper School Ethics students about environmental concerns facing our region. In the future, Chaplain Charlie hopes to invite local author John Barry who told the story of the Mississippi River flood of 1927 in his book, Rising Tide. Chaplain Charlie will also work with Episcopal faculty and staff to provide resources to enhance classroom lessons. This spring, he plans to bring language students to a citizenship ceremony in downtown Baton Rouge with the hopes of encouraging students to welcome these new U.S. citizens in their native language.
The Quest for Peace Program is made possible because of the love and passion between two brothers. Chaplain Charlie told Upper School students that although he and his twin brother, Judge John deGravelles, fought like the Bible’s Cain and Abel, the two now have a shared passion for social justice. “It is most fitting that two brothers came together to promote peace,” he said.
Judge deGravelles, and his wife Jan, established, in perpetuity, The Charles N. deGravelles Quest for Peace Endowment Fund in honor of Chaplain Charlie because of their belief in his ministries. “In sermons, in the classroom, and through his own social justice ministries, ‘Chaplain Charlie’ modeled for students the core Christian values of integrity, respect, compassion, forgiveness and peace. Particularly in his Upper School course titled The Quest for Peace, Charlie led students out of the classroom into a wide variety of community settings to explore the complex and interconnected causes and possible solutions for social ills such as addiction, mental illness, educational and economic disparities, family violence and crime. He was convinced that the intelligence, enthusiasm, optimism, and faith of his students could be harnessed to make a real difference in addressing these age-old issues in our community and in the world. In the process, Charlie encouraged students to find and develop their own inner resources to become themselves men and women of peace,” said the deGravelles. The School is very grateful to Jan and Johnny for their generous gift and the opportunity and resources it provides to honor Charlie, and strengthen our offerings.
The Quest for Peace Program is one of hope, love and promise. With a Lower School committed to loving their neighbor, a Middle School working toward everyday kindness and an Upper School that is focused on service, The Quest for Peace Program is the perfect addition to Episcopal.
Welcome back, Chaplain Charlie! As you said in Chapel this week, we truly are off on an adventure. We can’t wait for the journey, and to see where it takes us!
Not exactly! The candy Airheads Xtremes do play a role in a wonderful story of community, personal connections, and generosity. Tasha Lemon, who most of us know, is the head of athletic concessions and one of Chef Pat’s leading colleagues in the Webster Refectory. However, this quintessentially Episcopal story centers around a relationship between Tasha, the concessionaire, and David Chauvin III, a member of Episcopal’s class of 2031.
David and his parents, Nicole and David Chauvin, live near the school’s campus. Over the years, that proximity and the family’s connections to Episcopal have led to a close relationship between “little David” and Tasha. Their remote location allows the Chauvin Family to attend virtually all games and meets held at Episcopal’s main field and track.
According to David’s parents, “at least once a week the Episcopal Concession Stand provides little David supper.” However, the Concession Stand is no more; it was demolished in May 2018 to make room for a beautiful new Field House. But fear not, Chauvin Family, a new, well-equipped concession stand will be part of the new Field House set for completion in spring of 2019.
No one, perhaps besides Tasha, is more excited to hear this than little David. David is a “regular” at the Episcopal Concession Stand and his favorite treat to buy is Airheads Xtremes. Knowing this, Tasha is always prepared for her most loyal customer. Her kind, caring, and dedicated attitude is respected by everyone in our community, and especially little David. Tasha sees David coming and the Airheads Xtremes are ready . . . ready to be handed over the counter to David with a smile.
As Nicole and David, Jr. considered how they would participate in the Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign, their connection to Tasha and frequent visits to the Concession Stand led them to the new Field House and then, very naturally, to the Concession Stand. The Chauvins made a pledge of $100,000 and reserved the Concession Stand for naming. In making the gift, Nicole says, “It was an easy decision to support the Campaign and to focus our gift on the Field House and Concession Stand. We love the school and we appreciate the warmth and care that Tasha has shown little David and our family over the years. She is a very special person, among a great community of teachers, coaches, and staff, who are devoted to all the students.”
One bit of karma: The Chauvin’s made their capital campaign commitment on the very day that the old Concession Stand was demolished. The school is grateful for the Chauvin’s dedication and generosity. While continuing their support of The eFund annually, they have added this five-year commitment as an additional “vote of confidence” and demonstration of their belief in and devotion to Episcopal and its mission.
Construction is now underway on the new Episcopal athletic field house. This innovative facility will be used by every student on campus with space for physical education classes, strength and conditioning and team sports activities. To learn more about the project, and the Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign, watch the new field house video below.
Andy Spencer joined Episcopal in 2017 as the Director of Advancement after 17 years as the Chief Advancement Officer at the Lovett School in Northwest Atlanta. Under Andy’s direction, Lovett ran a $2.2 MM Annual Fund and completed two capital campaigns of $52 MM $94 MM. Andy’s 36-year career in the independent school world has been very comprehensive, including coaching, teaching, dorm supervision, admissions, alumni relations, and development. Prior to his time at Lovett, Andy spent 16 years as an admissions officer and director of development at Virginia Episcopal School (VES). Andy is a VES alumnus and graduate of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. Andy and his wife, Mary, have two children, both graduates of Lovett and UNC - Chapel Hill, and a cairn terrier, named Dean. Andy enjoys history, sports, classic cinema, gardening, backyard birding, fishing, canoeing and hiking, and the outdoors in general.
With the snip of the scissors and a roar from the crowd, a longtime dream was realized with the opening of the new Academic Commons on August 10th. The Academic Commons is the first new academic building on Episcopal’s campus in more than a decade and now serves as the hub of Upper School math and science. The 27,000 square foot building features 17 classrooms, lab and project space, an engineering and robotics suite and an entrepreneurial studies center. In addition, the entrance of the facility showcases a courtyard-size periodic table.
“This building is part of the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge dream,” said Head of School Hugh McIntosh. He added that the dream is to provide students with a nationally competitive education led by great teachers in modern facilities, preparing them to be productive, adult citizens of Baton Rouge.
Recently, construction has been a sign of progress on Episcopal’s campus with the ongoing Spirit • Mind • Body Capital Campaign. Last fall, the newly renovated Lewis Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd was completed. School officials broke ground on the Academic Commons in May 2017 with the project remaining on track for the August 2018 opening. With the completion of the Academic Commons, Foster Hall will be converted into a Lower and Middle School innovative learning center. Attention now shifts to the next phase of construction with work on the new athletic field house underway. School officials and Lead Donors Todd ʼ90 and Gwen ʼ88 Graves broke ground on the field house in May and expect the project to be complete by the end of the school year.
“You are going to unlock wonders within these walls!” said Spirit • Mind • Body Campaign Co-Chair and Episcopal Board Member Sean Reilly ʼ79, addressing students at the Academic Commons ribbon cutting. Jennifer and Sean Reilly are Lead Donors for the Academic Commons. Sean Reilly and Todd Graves are Capital Campaign Co-Chairs. Also in attendance was Katheryn Flournoy, Board Chair and Campaign Cabinet Member. Before the ribbon was officially cut, the Academic Commons was blessed by the Rt. Rev’d Morris K. Thompson, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. The Academic Commons was designed by Bobby Boudreaux and Crump Wilson Architects, and the general contractor was Cangelosi Ward General Contractors L.L.C.
A walk through the Academic Commons begins by strolling across the periodic table plaza in the courtyard. Upon entering the building, students and visitors will quickly notice the modern and sleek feel. Classroom spaces are designed to adjust to meet the needs of the students based on the current lesson. To foster collaboration and cooperation, furniture can be rearranged and seats can be easily moved. The glass-enclosed NuVu Episcopal Design Studio contains all of the equipment and supplies students need to create innovative solutions to everyday challenges. The multi-level facility also includes space for visiting lecturers and instructors.
August 10th was certainly not your average start to a new school year. Students returned to a facility, campus, and community that is sure to inspire them to achieve their dreams as the leaders of tomorrow. What a way to begin the 2018/2019 school year!
Home Sweet Home
The PreK-3 construction lesson started by focusing on a building quite familiar to the students – their own home. Students brought in an exterior photo of their home and discussed structural features including shutters, windows, lanterns and doors. They also discussed similarities and differences among each other’s homes.
Ask the Experts
Students had the opportunity to see a neighborhood map when architect/designer and PreK-3 parent Mike Hogstrom spoke to them about the design and building process. In addition, landscape architect/pool designer and PreK-3 parent Jeb Barber spoke to the class about ways to beautify the exterior of a home. Children placed model trees on the project map and had the opportunity to plant flowers of their own. Many even went home and transplanted the flowers to their own yards. The class also learned more from books as teachers read aloud works such as, “How a House is Built” by Gail Gibbons and “Dreaming Up” by Christy Hale.
Students enjoyed the opportunity to test their own building skills as they constructed forts, fairy houses and sand castles, using foam blocks and Legos. They heard the story of the three little pigs and made stick houses on the playground. To end the project, students even had the opportunity to construct mixed media houses to replicate New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos’ bold paintings.
While students certainly had a great time creating their structures, they were also achieving important milestones. Students acquired new vocabulary words, were introduced to new concepts and learned to think of themselves as a part of a larger community.
Over the course of the year, the students have truly gained the building blocks for learning. It won’t be long before they are studying the blocks of the periodic table outside of the Academic Commons!
We must be MINDful that only 78 days remain to meet the $1 Million Challenge -- $212,500 or $2,689.87/day will complete the challenge effort. The Challenge, issued by an anonymous and generous alumni family, matches dollar-for-dollar each pledge or gift to the Academic Commons project by June 30, 2018 up to $1 million.
The school recently received two $50,000 pledges, to be paid over five years, each naming a part of the Academic Commons. One of the gifts comes from an alum who lives outside Louisiana and is honoring his mother with the gift by naming a mathematics classroom. The other from a family that is very involved in the school’s past and present.
Mellie Bailey ’96, capital campaign director, urges those who live close by to join us for one of four Casual Conversations about the Campaign and the capital projects. Click HERE to see details on upcoming sessions and to RSVP.
If you live farther afield, click HERE for more information or contact Mellie Bailey or Andy Spencer(me), director of advancement. You, your class, your family, your parents could make the pledge or gift that puts the School “over the top” in this special effort.
Bailey adds, “The MIND portion of the Spirit • Mind • Body Capital Campaign is going quite well. Many have responded to the generous challenge to help fund the Academic Commons, a bright and modern building for collaborative, experiential, and innovative approaches to math, science, engineering, robotics, and entrepreneurship.”
Check out the latest photography of the Academic Commons, which is set to be “open for business” next school year. Be on the lookout for a formal announcement of the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, set for the morning of August 10. Everyone who has selected an Element Square (pledge/gift of $5,000) on the Periodic Table Plaza, which count toward the Challenge, is particularly looking forward to seeing their piece of this historic project. About 50% of the periodic table elements are left to be chosen . . . what a great graduation gift or recognition for a special teacher or staff member as the school year draws to an end.
Spirit and Body:
The Lewis Memorial Chapel of the Good Shepherd’s renovations have served the school community very well in its first full year of use since the $1.6 million project was completed. You can review information here on the SPIRIT portion of the Campaign. Likewise, click BODY for Field House renderings, floor plans, features, naming opportunities, and rationale.
One of the really great things about this combination of facilities projects is that it allows many families to find a special piece to support. Think about what matters to you about your family’s Episcopal experience . . . chances are an important piece of that experience is encompassed in Spirit, Mind, or Body.
Andy joined Episcopal as the Director of Advancement after having spent 17 years as the Chief Advancement Officer at the Lovett School in Northwest Atlanta. Under Andy’s direction, Lovett ran a $2.2 MM Annual Fund and completed a $94 MM capital campaign with an anticipated goal of $90 MM. Andy’s work in Advancement included oversight of Alumni Programs, Communications, Community Relations, and Development. New Parent Philanthropy, Stewardship, Legacy Giving, Board Development, Staff Development, Non-Alumni/Parent Constituent Relations, and the Annual Fund are programs and areas which were emphasized and matured significantly during Andy’s Lovett tenure. Prior to his time at Lovett, Andy spent 11 years as Director of Development at Virginia Episcopal School (VES), in Lynchburg, VA. He has also taught and coached during his career. Andy is a VES alumnus and graduate of the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar. His wife, Mary, is the Episcopal Dean of Students. They have two children, both graduates of Lovett and UNC - Chapel Hill, and two dogs. Andy enjoys history, sports, classic cinema, gardening, backyard birding, fishing, canoeing and hiking, and the outdoors in general.
Dear Episcopal Grandparents and Special Friends,
It was truly an honor to have you brave the rainy weather and join us for Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day on March 29, 2018. Lower School students and teachers worked hard to make the day memorable. The students enjoyed introducing you to their teachers, showing off their work, and taking you on a tour of their spaces at school. We were so excited to be able to share with you our Spirit, Mind, and Body Campaign and the plans for our new Academic Commons Building and Field House.
Our favorite quote of the day was from a grandfather who said,
“Episcopal is the best. Number one at everything. I love this place!”
We are grateful to everyone who attended and played a role in making the day so memorable. We invite you to stay connected year round and here are a few simple ways:
For more information, please contact Bridget Henderson at 225-755-2740 or Katie Thompson at 225-755-2741. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Episcopal alumnus Dion Warr '90 reflects on how his grandmother's influence instilled a lifelong love of learning and how he hopes to share that love with others through his Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign participation.
I remember making the trip back and forth from Plaquemine to Episcopal each day. As I logged the miles between home and education I was filled with excitement, hope and promise. At Episcopal I made lifelong friends; I participated in everything from service projects to track. I remember the feeling in Foster as exams approached, the camaraderie in Webster Refectory and mentorship of teachers and coaches. Episcopal left a lasting imprint upon my life. So much so that my wife and I have entrusted our own children to the school. The education and character development I received at Episcopal set my future path for success. This path originated back home before I ever crossed the river for school and before I ever became a Knight.
On my fourth Christmas, I received a Raggedy Ann and Andy chalkboard from Santa, which almost exclusively stayed at her house, where she lived with my great-grandmother. On one side was a green surface with the eponymous characters, a stamped set of the upper-case alphabet and numerals; on the other was a plain blackboard surface. When I spent time with her after school and during summers while my mother was at work, we would fill the chalkboard with words, sentences, and arithmetic for hours as she would ask questions, prompt me for answers, and prod me for explanations. When I could not answer or explain, she would send me off to find the information necessary from the dictionary, the encyclopedia, or from the old textbooks that my mother and uncle had discarded which somehow had found their way into her inventory. Then I would report back what I had found out, frequently having to discuss how I had come to find the information necessary to complete the task, solve the problem, or become sure of my answer.
I never recalled any hint of discouragement with her as to my young attempts to understand and/or explain the world, ignorant or misinformed as they might had been at times. When I had set down a wrong-headed path, she would inquire about facts and point out flaws in reasoning or mistakes in computation, or facts, or verb tense, or ask me to reconsider what I had recited. While she did possess the free time to engage me in such exercises, she seemed never to tire in the process, all the while laying a foundation for love of knowledge and of learning in her youngest grandson.
Though she expressed disappointment that I would not be spending as much time with her when I was accepted into Episcopal prior to my sixth grade year and would necessarily be traveling back and forth across the river for almost an hour and a half each day, she could not have been more pleased that I would be attending a school which would further serve to challenge me academically. She celebrated my accomplishments but always reminded me to keep working and to not “rest on my laurels”.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was in high school. After a certain amount of time and fight had passed, she would stay with us from time to time while she continued to make the circuits between doctors’ offices, rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Even through rehabilitation, complications and her increasing frailty she continued to inquire about my studies and press me about college. During one of my last visits with her at the hospital, I was able to let her know that I had received my early acceptance letter into college; she looked up, nodded and squeezed my hand. She passed during winter exams just a few days later.
If you’d like to make a gift in honor of someone who has inspired you or if you’d like more information on the Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign, please contact Mellie Bailey at 755-2687 or email@example.com.
Dion Warr, CPL
After graduating from Episcopal, Dion studied Biological Chemistry at Tulane University. After graduation, he worked in industrial construction, right-of-way acquisition and project management prior to returning to work with his mother and stepfather as an independent petroleum landman. He is married to the former Jennifer Seaton Wendt with two children (the younger of whom graduated from Episcopal in 2017) and resides in Baton Rouge. He is active in his local and national professional landman associations, serving on the Board of Directors of each as well as chairing educational and technology committees and events, with a concentration on integrating each in the mentoring of current and future landmen.