Dr. Heather Spillers Poole believes growing up in Concordia Parish prepared her for her current success and her desire to be Louisiana State Superintendent of Education.
"I personally understand the challenge and believe I am uniquely qualified to serve the needs of our rural communities as well as our entire state," Poole said. "The majority my career I have worked with every single school district in Louisiana and visited each one. What I have found is that talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not."
Poole is one of six final candidates. She was part of a hour-and-a-half interview conducted by Superintendent Selection Work Group chair Kira Orange Jones, BESE District 2, and work group member Ronnie Morris, BESE District 6. They can be viewed and the feedback survey may be completed through the BESE website at http://bese.louisiana.gov/current-initiatives/ superintendent-search.
Supporters of Poole can still e-mail their BESE board member and voice their support for the Vidalia native.
Poole graduated from Vidalia High in 1991.
Poole and her husband, Scott, reside in Pineville and are the parents of Matthew, 27; Cameron, 20; Emmascott, 12; and Isaac, 11.
Poole said it was after much prayer and careful consideration as well as sitting down with her family that she decided to submit her application
"I have the commitment and due diligence, as well as researches to run for superindendent. It became crystal clear that my services and skilled and can best utilize BESE as the superintendent," she said. "I have the knowledge and tools to help our students be successful in school and in the future."
Poole said she decided to run for state superintendent after sitting down with her family to discuss the possibility.
"I am committed to enhancing the educational and economic quality of Louisiana through advancing strong policies and leadership practices," Poole said. "I am focused on increasing educational attainment, secondary and postsecondary alignment, college readiness, erasing equity gaps, and improving student success for every child -- in every school and in every school district."
Poole is currently Executive Vice Chancellor & Director of Central Louisiana Technical Community College which serves eight campuses, including the Ferriday campus.
Poole has also served as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services at LSU-A, and worked 15 years with the Board of Regents, serving as Assistant Commissioner for Assessment & Economic Development from 2002-13. .
Poole earned an Education Doctorate Degree at Louisiana Tech, received her Masters in Business Administration at LSU, has a Bachelor of General Studies with a Minors in Political Science, Sociology and Speech at LSU, and is an Economic Development Institute Graduate from the University of Oklahoma.
Poole was recently named as a United States Marine Corp Honored Educator. is a Louisiana Chief Advancement Officer and is affiliated with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, is a Council for a Better Louisiana Executive Board member as well as served the Council for Better Louisiana Board of Directors as treasurer and secretary.
Poole also was on the Louisiana Leadership Academy at Louisiana Community Tech College System, is a member of the Louisiana Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers and the Louisiana Council of Enrollment Managers.
"I have a passion and dedication to building on Louisiana’s improvement efforts made in the past two decades and successfully accelerating progress in taking the next steps forward to build a world class K-12 education system that meets the needs of the state’s more than 700,000 students, Poole said. "I believe it is crucial that the Superintendent provides ongoing support to schools and school systems to assist them in the implementation of solutions that will accelerate progress. And I believe that means getting out in the field to see, firsthand, the challenges faced by our schools. As a native of Vidalia in Concordia Parish – one of the poorest regions of the state – and a product of Louisiana’s public school system, I know the unique hardships rural principals, teachers and students face. While talent is equally distributed across the state, opportunity is not. As this group has noted, disadvantaged students are more likely to attend struggling schools and experience less access to enriching experiences that may spark lifelong interests. As I have traveled the state during my career, I have come to appreciate that a one-size-fits-all approach is not necessarily the best approach. Schools in urban areas face different challenges than their rural counterparts, and I believe it is vital that the Superintendent builds relationships to address each system’s unique needs, working in conjunction with families to find solutions that best meet their needs."
Poole said if selected, she will make a point of getting out into the field to make connections. "While the solutions may need an individualized approach, my overall goal would always be the same for every system – we must continue to raise expectations for student performance to ensure every student stays on track to graduate fully prepared to successfully move forward, whether that be to pursue a college degree, a technical certification or go directly into the workforce," she said. "While Louisiana has made significant and laudable progress in improving educational outcomes – including improvement on NAEP that exceeds national trends and, in 2019, the state led the nation for improvement in 8th grade mathematics – significant challenges remain. As Superintendent I would work not only to maintain and build on the hard-fought progress that has been achieved, I would aggressively work to address the lingering challenges that remain. We must capitalize on the positive momentum built to date and infuse it with the fresh energy of new leadership to accelerate progress. In short, my mission would be to accelerate the timeline to achieve more success more rapidly. Our students can’t wait, we must deliver now. As fellow education professionals, you understand the importance of providing a quality education, from pre-K (or earlier) through high school. To me, that means more than helping students earn a high school diploma. It means preparing students to be postsecondary ready."
Poole said being from Louisiana is a big plus in her favor.
"Just as Coach Ed Orgeron’s Louisiana roots made him the ideal choice to lead the LSU football team to new heights, I believe I am the right fit to take Louisiana’s educational system to a higher level," she said. "And like Coach O, I am willing to build on an established foundation while boldly adopting innovative new approaches needed to be successful in today’s highly competitive environment. Bottom line, I believe my experience makes me ideally suited to be the next State Superintendent of the Department of Education. I am passionate about moving our education system forward."
Poole said she another priority is having seniors ready to become freshmen in college.
"We're doing a disservice to our students when they come in underprepared for lift after high school," Poole said. "We have an opportunity to provide innovative programs like urban college academies, which I have experience in. I'm really eager to move our state forward. We need to move the needle nationally and believe i can do that."
If elected, Poole said she will continue to meet with school districts.
"The first thing I will do is visit every single school districts, including charter schools," she said. "Our state is uniquely different. One district does not have the same needs of another district. And I will meet individually with our Department of Education staff."
Poole said she will also focus on streamlining and the office being more efficient.
"I'm relentless and when I have a goal and a mission, I don't let up on it."
Poole said five years from now if she is state superintendent, Louisiana will no longer be at the bottom in education.
"While our state education system has made significant improvement in the past eight years, our state still ranks at the bottom of most key national rankings," she said. "We must do better, and we must do it quickly. Especially now after this national Covid-19 crisis. Our students can’t wait."