Catherine Bricelj, principal at Myrtle Place Elementary in Lafayette, will be honored by the country's top education board.

The Louisiana Department of Education made the announcement on Tuesday that Bricelj will be one of nine principals in the country to receive the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership from the U.S. Department of Education.

In a press release, LDOE noted that, under Bricelj, the school has gone from a grade of C to an A, and is a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School.

Under Bricelj’s leadership, Myrtle Place Elementary has grown from a school letter grade of C to an A. Bricelj emphasizes strong relationships, building trust, and focusing on what is needed to support everyone at her school. Myrtle Place is one of seven Louisiana schools named 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The school earned that national honor for its exemplary growth.

“School leaders have the opportunity to transform their campus, and Principal Bricelj embraced her role,” said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “She raised the bar for students and educators, then helped them achieve those higher expectations.”

The Terrel H. Bell Award is named after the second U.S. Secretary of Education. It "honors school leaders who are committed to education as a powerful and liberating force in people’s lives," LDOE said. "The award is part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process."

In a statement, LPSS Superintendent Irma Trosclair said “Principal Bricelj sets the standard for exceptional school leadership and is deserving of this prestigious honor. Her exceptional leadership continues to impact her students, staff, and school community. Principal Bricelj leads with passion, sets high expectations, individualizes instruction for each child, and works right alongside her staff in providing a high quality education to the students of Myrtle Place Elementary. We are extremely proud of her, and grateful for her service.”

A Great Year For Myrtle Place

LEAP scores from the 2021-2022 school year were good for the Lafayette Parish School System, but Myrtle Place was one of the top-performing schools. That led to the National Blue Ribbon School honors.

At the time, Trosclair praised Bricelj's leadership in overcoming the education crisis caused by COVID-19.

"In the last couple of years, not only were the teachers teaching, Madame [Catherine Bricelj] herself was teaching classes," Trosclair explained. "I've never gone there when that leader isn't out helping her staff."

"National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation," the Louisiana Department of Education explained in its press release. "A National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing a school’s entryway or on a flagpole is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning."

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