Phyllis Joyce Porter Eden (February 21)
In celebration of Black History Month, we will profile African-Americans who have been a profound impact on public education in St. Tammany Parish.
Phyllis Joyce Porter Eden, a native of Slidell, was an educator in St. Tammany Parish for more than 41 years. A 1940 graduate of the St. Tammany Parish Training School, she went on to graduate from Dillard University and later Xavier University.
From the 1940s to the late 1960s, she taught and served as the assistant principal at the St. Tammany Training School. She became the first certified counselor in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System. For the last two decades of her career, she became the first Supervisor/Reading Specialist for STPPS, developing curriculums, testing programs and procedures that led STPPS to becoming one of the best school systems in Louisiana.
After retiring in 1980, she founded a tutorial program called “Back to Basics” and worked at Brock Elementary to enhance LEAP testing scores.
For more on Black History Month in St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, follow us on Twitter (@STPPSchools) and Facebook.
J. Franklin Owens (February 16)
Owens was a teacher and administrator in St. Tammany Parish for more than two decades. He taught math at Covington Rosenwald High School in the early 1960s. He then spent 21 years as the principal of Pine View Middle School in Covington. After he retired, he continued to contribute to Pine View Middle and the community until his death in 2008.
In May 2010, the Pine View Middle School library was dedicated in his honor.
Dorothy Laurent Williams (February 14)
Williams was the librarian at Covington Rosenwald School and was known as the “bookmobile lady”. She was one of eight individuals recognized during Covington’s Bicentennial Celebration in 2013 for playing a pivotal role in uniting the community.
At the Class of 1965’s 50-year reunion, a portrait of Williams was unveiled. It hangs permanently inside the James A. Harrison Curriculum Center, site of the historic former Covington Rosenwald School.
Dr. James A. Harrison (February 10)
Dr. Harrison was appointed principal of Covington Rosenwald School in 1924 and remained as principal until 1957. In his 33 years, he led the effort to educate African-American students on the north shore during the years of segregation. A strong authority figure, he touched the lives of many children and teachers.
In April 2013, the James A. Harrison Curriculum Center was rededicated in his honor. The center is the site of the historic former Covington Rosenwald School where Dr. Harrison served.
Dr. Robert Brooks Jr. (February 8)
Dr. Robert Brooks Jr. served St. Tammany Parish Public Schools for nearly 40 years as a teacher, coach and principal at St. Tammany Parish Training Center (now St. Tammany Junior High). He moved to St. Tammany Parish in 1936 to serve as an agriculture teacher. The Slidell Curriculum Center was named the Brooks Education Center in March 11, 2004, after Dr. Brooks.
The building, which sits on the site of the former St. Tammany Parish Training Center, was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and rebuilt. It was rededicated to him in 2010.
Julius Smith (February 5)
Julius Smith, a graduate of St. Tammany High School, spent more than 40 years as a coach and administrator for STPPS. He and the members of Southern's 1959 baseball team were inducted into the Southern University Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. The 1959 Southern baseball team was the first all-black team to participate in the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Former and Current Board Members
Not only have strong African-American leaders made a profound impact in our schools, the St. Tammany Parish School Board has flourished thanks to the contributions of several African-American board members.
Former Board Members:
Otis L. Campbell
Albert “Smitty” Smith
Sorola “Jody” Palmer
Current Board Members:
Willie B. Jeter
Dennis S. Cousin