Four Orange County teachers were among 15 to receive the 2010 Reaud Excellence in Education Awards: 

Lisa Stephenson of Little Cypress Intermediate School, Susan Ahlgrim Harsh of Little Cypress Junior High School, Laura Slacum of Orangefield High School and Faye Parish of Bridge City High School.

The Beaumont Foundation created the awards to celebrate and recognize superior contributions of teachers whose leadership and dedication inspire a spirit of learning. The program provides public recognition and financial rewards to educational professionals who are furthering excellence in education. Each award winner will receive $10,000 and be recognized at an awards gala May 3 at Lamar University’s Gray Library.

The Record Newspapers asked the winners to provide some thoughts for this article:

Lisa Stephenson:

Now in her ninth year of teaching, Stephenson taught sixth grade science and social studies for three years at Vidor Middle School. This is her sixth year teaching fifth grade at LCI. She graduated from Lamar University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and is pursuing a master’s degree in education administration at LU. 

“My husband also teaches and coaches at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School and we have two beautiful daughters, Madeline, age 7, and Ella, age 2,” she said. “I feel extremely honored to win this award and privileged to represent LC-M CISD. I work with the greatest people at Little Cypress Intermediate School and feel that this award could have gone to any of them for their outstanding work. Again, I am so proud and excited to have been recognized for something I love to do, which is working with my students and pushing them to reach all their goals, both in school and in life.”

Susan Harsh

“I have known I wanted to be a seventh-grade science teacher since I was in junior high myself,” said Harsh, a 1982 graduate of West-Orange Stark High. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees (1986, 2008) in secondary education from LU. She has taught science at LCJH for 16 years where she sponsors UIL, robotics – and co-sponsors the Spirit Cubs and the newly-developed science club.

“I would like to thank everyone at the school because I couldn’t do the job I do without the support of my administrators and the help of my colleagues. I would really like to thank my husband, Kenny Harsh, and my sons Robert Ellis and Keith Ellis. They are always willing to lend a helping hand in the name of science. This is a great honor and I will do everything in my power to live up to the prestige that accompanies accepting such an award. I would like to thank the Beaumont Foundation for making this award possible to so many deserving teachers.”

Laura Slacum:

“I am overwhelmed at winning this award; it is a great honor to be nominated by your peers,” said Slacum, a 1975 graduate of McAllen High School and 1981 alumnae in business administration from the University of Texas-Austin. She has completed the Accelerated Certification for Educators Program and holds certifications in Gifted and Talented, Pre-AP and Lunar/Meteorite Sample Education. She is in her sixth year of teaching – three years at Central Medical Magnet High School in Beaumont and three years at OHS.

 “I have been married for 33 years to Clark Slacum, formerly area engineer for TXDOT,” she said. “I have three children, all Orangefield graduates. My son Aaron Slacum will be graduating in May from Lamar with a chemical engineering degree. My son Brian Slacum will be graduating in May from Lamar with a business degree. My daughter Kimberly Slacum-Butler will be graduating in May from LIT with a business management degree. I have two grandchildren, Trey Butler and Katalena Butler.”

Slacum has attended workshops facilitated by the Texas Forestry Association, the Texas Mining and Reclamation Association and the Texas Space Grant Consortium; and served on the TEA TAKS Item Analysis Review Committee and the Geometry EOC Advisory Committee.

Faye Parish:

“I was very ecstatic and honored to win the Reaud Excellence in Education Award,” said Parish. “Sharon Woolley from BCHS won it last year so for BCHS to have a winner two years in a row is awesome. When I received a cash award of $10000 from UIL for the Southwestern Bell Sponsor Award, I was very pleased. I didn’t think anything would ever top winning the UIL Award. Then I found out that I won the Reaud award for $10,000 dollars … mind boggling and humbling.”

Parish is also a past BCHS Teacher of the Year (2003, 1986), a Bridge City Chamber Employee of the Month (1999) and Bridge City Masonic Lodge Mirabeau B. Lamar Teacher of the Year. She holds a bachelor’s degree in math and a master’s in education with math specialization from LU. She has been listed 10 times in Who’s Who in American Education.

Parish has a sister, Rusty Henry, and two sons, Joe and Luke Parish.

“LU is very dear to my heart,” she said. “The Montagne Center was named for my dad, A.H. Montagne. My brother David Montagne is a current regent for the system that LU is a member school. My brother Robert Montagne is the retired superintendent of Orangefield ISD. My brother Ray Montagne is a history teacher at Orangefield Junior High. As you can see, education is very valued by my family”