TEACHER OF THE MONTH — Port Arthur administrator brings love for science to all elementary students (video)

Published 12:40 am Thursday, June 29, 2023

“Everything that I do is not about me,” Port Arthur Independent School District Elementary Science Supervisor L’Tunya Bernard said this week while standing inside the Administration Building.

“I cannot do this in a silo. It takes great people.”

And it was clear many of those people thought the same of the administrator as they lined the halls when Bernard was surprised as Teacher of the Month, sponsored by Philpott Motors. The title comes with a $500 gift card.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Bernard oversees the elementary curriculum for the district.

“She’s passionate about what she does,” said Tatiana Morales, assistant superintendent of curriculum instruction. “She is a perfectionist and will go way beyond the call of duty to make sure the teachers have not only the resources that are needed to, but to make sure our students are successful.”

Bernard began her career in education in 1998.

“What brought me into education is, first of all, I’ve always loved kids,” she said. “I grew up teaching within the church, and I’ve always loved children. Originally I wanted to be a psychologist, but my grandfather made me change what I was doing and it ended up being the right thing. I love it. Even as a classroom teacher, I was always very involved. I was always that one that stayed after hours. The janitor had to put me out.”

She’s spent the last four years at PAISD in her current role.

“As far as teaching is concerned, I can do all of the different subject areas, but science is my focus area,” she said. “Helping teachers understand instructional strategies, how to improve their students no matter what their content area is very important. How we teach and what we teach matters.

“When I get to teach with the actual kids, that’s one of my favorite things that I like to do because it helps me reconnect and stay connected with what needs to be done. And I’m still learning. Every day I’m learning from our children; I’m learning from our teachers.”

Bernard focuses on science because of her love for the subject and its importance in the community.

“In our area, because of our petrochemical industry, for us to keep those refineries and the industry vibrant in this area and also in this community, we have to teach our children to be the people who work those refineries,” she said. “It’s really important for us to teach them, first of all, how to do STEM. Not just science, not just mathematics, but also have that science and engineering piece in it because we need to integrate those things so it can be a deeper understanding for those students.”

Last year she started what is now an annual Summer Science Institute.

“Our science conference for this state actually occurs during the school year when teachers should be in class,” she said. So she created a three-day training course at the administration building during the summer.

This year she opened the institute to all of Region V.

As of Wednesday, 10 districts were represented and 112 of the 150 spots for educators had been filled.