Bossier, DeSoto educators named 2021 state semi-finalists


BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Educators from Bossier and DeSoto Parishes have been selected as semi-finalists for Teacher and Principal of the Year.

On Tuesday the Louisiana Department of Education released its list of 2021 state semi-finalists.

Mallory Cooper, a sixth-grade science teacher at Haughton Middle School, was selected as a Teacher of the Year semi-finalist and Kimmie Smith, Principal of Legacy Elementary, was selected as a Principal of the Year semi-finalist.

Cooper, who has taught at Haughton Middle School for the past eight years, said she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Cooper said, “It’s a job I love and it’s easy to do a job you love. My hope is to show my students that even if they don’t master a concept right away, they can work hard and grow over time and that’s just as valuable as getting the answer right on the first try.”

Smith has served as the leader of Legacy Elementary since 2017 and been in education for 25 years.

A proud product of Bossier Parish Schools herself, Smith points to a quote that has been her mantra since undergraduate studies:

Smith explained, “‘Children do not care what you know, until they know that you care.’ This statement made a huge impact on my thoughts as an inspiring educator. It became the basis for my educational philosophy and has proven true throughout my career. Life is about relationships and it is my desire to create an atmosphere where our students are loved and nurtured as they are encouraged and challenged to reach their greatest potential.”

Bossier Schools Superintendent Mitch Downey said, “These two educators are exceptional. Their love for children and desire for them to succeed is genuine and they exemplify the teaching profession. We are proud to call them our own and wish them the best as they advance from the district to state level, although they have already won in our book.”

Meanwhile, Nakia Graham, a teacher at Mansfield High School, has been named a Louisiana State Semi-Finalist for Teacher of the Year in DeSoto Parish.

Graham graduated from Mansfield High School in 2012, and in her valedictorian address, she boldly professed, “The next time I walk the halls of MHS, it will be as a teacher!”

After finishing her degree at Northwestern State University in 2016, Graham did return to MHS to fulfill her promise of teaching at her Alma Mater.

Each year the Louisiana Department of Education, in partnership with Dream Teachers and Louisiana Association of Principals, recognize and celebrate the state’s most exceptional educators through the Teacher and Principal of the Year programs.

For a list of all State Semi-Finalists, please visit

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