Take 5 with Elecia Lathon, PhD

February 6, 2024

BATON ROUGE, LA - Take 5 and get to know LSU School of Education Assistant Professor of Professional Practice, Elecia Lathon, PhD. 

Dr. Lathon, tell us about your journey to a career in education.

"I think my journey started at birth. I remember going to school every summer to decorate my mom’s classroom and I remember going to School Aids with mom, a retired teacher who taught for 52 years. I developed a love for doing bulletin boards and getting the classroom ready for the first day of school. I started out as a music education major and after two years decided I no longer wanted to pursue music education, so I changed to speech pathology and audiology. I worked as a language therapist for three years from 1993 to 1996. Fast forward to 1997, a year later and I’m in the classroom as a reading and choir teacher. It was then that I quickly realized teaching and the classroom were truly my passion, my calling and what were in my genes from birth."Lathon

Why teach? Why should someone be a teacher?

"Why not teach? Teachers are educational architects and builders of knowledge and skills. Teachers create blueprints for learning just as architects create blueprints for houses and other structures. Teachers work to build every student that enters their classroom. Daily, teachers design instruction and oversee the creation of futures. As educators we all understand something so powerful and life changing: Education! Teaching is exhilarating and rewarding but can also be overwhelming, tiring and daunting all at the same time. However, no matter what people may hear in the media, no matter what your friends say and no matter how many times we hear people simplifying or misunderstanding our impact as a profession, teaching is an essential and powerful profession. Who wouldn’t want to be part of creating, designing, building and managing the present and the future?"

You wear many hats when it comes to education in Louisiana. Tell us about some of your roles on campus and in the state.

"I am a School Board member and Board President for Zachary Community Schools.  In 2020 I was appointed to the board and elected in 2021 and 2023 to represent District 6. I also serve as a member of the University Laboratory School Foundation Board of Directors. At LSU I not only teach in the School of Education, but I serve as the lead for EDCI 1001, Introduction to College Study Skills, and lead LSU faculty member for the J.K. Haynes Teacher Prep and Leadership Academy partnership with East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. As lead faculty member, I work in partnership with J.K. Haynes and Southern University School of Education to provide professional development and assistance for teachers at the school. One of my favorite highlights of my career as an educator is working with Harry and Rosemary Wong on Classroom Management. I am featured in the latest (5th) edition of their book, The First Days of School."

"Another highlight is my work with the Summer Scholars program. Last summer I had the awesome opportunity to travel with the Summer Scholars to both Montgomery and Selma, Alabama as the faculty representative. We visited The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, The National Voting Rights Museum, The Slavery and Civil War Museum and the Legacy Museum. Following the tour of the Legacy Museum I led a Museum Reflection and discussion with the scholars. Through their reflections and discussions, I learned that the experience was profound, staggering, and even emotional for some. We also participated in an interactive experience in which we were taken as slaves from Africa to Alabama on board a small vessel. The roughly one-hour ordeal was probably one of the most powerful hours I have ever experienced. We also walked across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge. To be able to experience this and engage with the students throughout the trip was priceless. A few other programs I work with or have worked with are NCBRT (National Center for Biomedical Research and Training) to assist with school safety trainings, the LSU Future Scholars program, Pre-Scholars, and the Dual Enrollment program. Finally, my latest project and pride and joy is Call Me MiSTER (an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models). The program’s mission is to increase the pool of available male teachers from a broader more diverse background, particularly among the state's lowest-performing elementary schools. So, this gives you some insight into the many hats that I wear."Lathon with students

Why is the LSU School of Education special? What would you encourage students to get involved in and pay attention to during their time here?

"The LSU School of Education is special because we equip students with the tools needed to become reflective practitioners, effective teachers, school leaders and scholars in the field of education. In other words, we set students up for success inside and outside the classroom, creating educators that will truly make a difference and impact the world.  I would encourage students to become a CHSE Ambassador, join Educators Rising, Kappa Delta Epsilon and other education organizations while at LSU. Students should also attend workshops and trainings provided by the School of Education and get involved in mentoring, tutoring and other activities that will expose them to the teaching profession early and often."

What words of advice do you have for future teachers? 

"1. “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail” so plan, plan, plan! 
2. Document, document, document 
3. “Teach for the outcome, not the income," even though you deserve both and so much more 
4. Be open to new ideas, opportunities, and experiences 
5. If your students aren’t learning the way you teach, you need to teach the way they learn    
6. “If you do what you love, and love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.”  
7. If anyone asks you, what do you do or what do you make? Proudly tell them, “I teach, I make a difference!

Students matter and teachers matter because teaching really is the parent of all professions!"