Keith Courville: New A+PEL Executive Director
BATON ROUGE — Keith Courville, the new Executive Director of Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL), has roots in Louisiana that go back more than 250 years.
Some of his mother’s family came to Iberia Parish from Spain. Others came there from France. His father’s parents came to the Eunice area from Nova Scotia. As a boy growing up in New Iberia, Keith worked with his grandfather, a commercial fisherman who caught fish, crabs, crawfish, and alligators. He worked in the crawfish ponds, helping to bait traps and then pick them up.
“I saw how hard they worked, and I decided I wanted a job that was air conditioned!” Keith laughed.
All of his grandparents spoke Cajun French, and none of his ancestors ever graduated from college. But Keith decided he wanted to go to Louisiana College to study physics and chemistry. He earned his Ed.S and masters degrees and is currently working on a doctorate in education leadership and research at LSU.
At LSU, Keith met his future wife, who was from Columbus, GA. Fortunately, she was fluent in French and fit right into his family. She earned a Ph.D. in French literature but now teaches English at Lee High School in Baton Rouge.
After graduating from LSU, Keith decided he wanted to teach, and he was certified through the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators. Landing a job at Walker High School, he taught physics, chemistry, and physical science.
He went into coaching and gained special appreciation for Walker power lifting coach James Roberts. “At Walker High, I really enjoyed being a role model for students. I found many of them did not have a positive adult role model in their lives,” he said.
Keith said his love of learning began at an early age. “My parents always read to me, and my grandma took me to the library in the summers. I loved to win prizes for reading 10 books!”
Keith was introduced to A+PEL by his mentor teacher, Anna Broussard, and the Livingston Parish Chapter president, Jeanie Achord.
When Holly Boffy, A+PEL’s director of training, was elected to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Keith Courville applied for the position.
“It was tough to leave the classroom, because I loved it. My way of justifying it is that A+PEL gives me the chance to touch the leaders who in turn touch the students. This is my way of trying to improve things for every student in our state. But I have to admit that I do miss working directly with students and being able to influence them one on one,” he said.
Courville said one of the things he loves most about A+PEL is the outstanding seminars and conferences the organization holds throughout the year.
“Our speakers are greatly appreciated by A+PEL members. They bring the information, techniques, and strategies right back into the classroom.”
Keith said some of his favorite speakers in recent years are Dr. John Hodge, Annette Breaux, and Larry Bell.
Courville said meeting teachers from across the State of Louisiana is an enriching and enjoyable experience. “I especially appreciate meeting new teachers who are just coming out of college. The quality of those teachers shows that there is real hope for the future,” he said.
Courville said Louisiana’s 8,000 A+PEL teachers are quite different from what some people see as the image of teachers.
“We are not a union but a professional organization. Our primary consideration is not ourselves but the best interests of the students,” he said.
A+PEL’s philosophy means that members don’t support a “me first” attitude, and their primary concern is the best interests of students. “We think our most important responsibility is to the students. We want them to have a great education!” Courville said.
A+PEL does not support strikes by teachers or school employees. It does not support “job actions” or tactics that the members of A+PEL consider disruptive, counterproductive, self-defeating, or unprofessional.
Louisiana is one of the few states that offers teachers a professional membership organization that competes with the unions.
“One of our most important goals is to allow teachers in Louisiana to have a voice on the important education issues facing our state — an authentic voice, coming from the grassroots, not dictated from the top down,” he said.
“While some organizations or people would claim to speak for teachers to further their own political interests, we focus on letting teachers, as professionals, speak for themselves.”
“We want to keep A+PEL above politics while being a reliable source of advice on policies that can improve education in our state.”
“From an educational standpoint, we want to provide teachers with educational programs that help them to become more effective. Our members are committed to professional development of teachers and to our teachers’ being the best we can possibly be.”
“At A+PEL, we want to continue to grow and expand, reaching more teachers and serving our existing members better. I’m excited about being Executive Director of A+PEL, because it will provide such an opportunity for service to our teachers and, through them, to our young people in Louisiana.”
“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Polly Broussard. She has been our Executive Director for 20 of A+PEL’s 25 years’ of existence. It’s difficult to imagine that A+PEL would even exist today without her. She really personifies A+PEL and is such a wonderful role model for everyone in the teaching profession in Louisiana.”
“We could say that her shoes will be difficult to fill, but the truth is, she has done such a good job that the new Executive Director has all the things already in place to carry A+PEL to the next level.”
“Looking ahead, I want to see teachers recognized and treated with the same status as doctors and other professionals. A+PEL will continue to represent and promote teachers as competent, confident, and committed professionals”
“One of our initiatives in the coming year will be school discipline. We plan on being a continuing voice in that conversation.”
“Teachers have incredible power to change lives, and I am honored to serve them. We look forward to continuing another successful 25 years of A+PEL and expanding the organization’s outreach and service to teachers” Keith Courville can be reached at email@example.com