The Lafayette Parish School Board has started the process to rename a building for longtime educator Melinda Mangham.
Mangham was an English teacher at Lafayette High School and an advocate for education in the parish. She died on April 30th.
Mangham was an educator for 58 years. She taught in Lafayette public schools, ran her own college guidance program, and was the Academic Dean at Ascension Episcopal School. She also briefly served on the Lafayette Parish School Board in 2014.
Today, Mangham's legacy can still be felt in the Lafayette Parish School System. Wednesday's school board meeting started with a moment of silence in her honor.
"One of my friends said that he was anxious about taking a test, so she told him, 'Imagine I'm sitting on your shoulders, and answer the questions the way I would answer them.' He says that stuck with him all through law school," District 8 Board Member Hannah Smith Mason said.
Mason was one of Mangham's many students at Lafayette High. Smith credits Mangham for inspiring her to run for office.
"Because of the education that she had given me, I could then use that to run for public office, which was the scariest thing I have ever done," Mason said.
Mangham's influence is helping guide several other school board members.
"I did not have the great fortune of having her as a teacher, but I feel like over the last six years she has adopted me as one of her students," District 6 Board Member Justin Centanni explained.
Centanni says he became close to Mangham while she was a member of the school board.
"It was great. Anytime I had a question, Melinda was always there with the history of why things have been done the way they've been done and why things should be done differently in the future," Centanni said.
Now Smith, Centanni, and their colleagues are working to make sure that future generations of students and teachers alike know who Mangham was. The board will vote on a proposal to designate building 200 to Mangham at a later meeting. Centanni says the board wants to have a public discussion on the matter after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
"If a new teacher hears about her and her legacy, it will encourage them to be the best they can be," added Mason. "And not be afraid to influence these children to be all that they can be."
Watch the full LPSS meeting here.
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