Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville, La., refinery announced its latest investment in St. John the Baptist Parish. As part of its ongoing Celebrating Resiliency & A Brighter Tomorrow initiative, it offered a $350,000 workforce development grant in front of a gymnasium packed with teachers from St. John the Baptist Parish (SJBP) Public Schools at its Aug. 4 kick-off event for the upcoming school year.
“Just like we preach to our teachers about building meaningful relationships in the classroom, we have a meaningful relationship with Marathon,” said SJBP Public Schools Interim Superintendent Rebecca Johnson. “Not only will this gift support the professional development of our educators, but it shows them that they are valued employees. This funding provides a way for them to get certified without worrying about how they’re going to pay for it.”
The grant covers the full cost for all current, non-certified teachers in the school system, approximately 30% or 120 teachers, to become fully certified. As a resulting benefit, those teachers who complete certification will see an increase in their salary, following the parish’s compensation structure, which incentivizes the achievement.
“As an educator who became certified through an alternative route, I am ecstatic that our teachers now have a resource to assist in obtaining certification,” said Johnika Gayden, a principal within the school system. “Certification also equates to a quality of life increase for our teachers who work so hard, and this will help the school system overall with teacher retention and hiring.”
This includes teachers like Diashiki Snyder-Brown, who wanted a change after the pandemic, leaving behind a career in business to follow her dream of becoming an educator.
“I love it. This is the first time I feel like I wake up ready to go to work every day,” Snyder-Brown said. “There’s never a moment where I say, ‘I don’t feel like going today.’ I’m ready every morning now. It’s a blessing, and Marathon has been a really great neighbor.”
The workforce development initiative was a collaborative idea between SJBP Public Schools leadership and Garyville refinery leaders who wanted to support the district’s “Journey to Excellence” campaign with its goal to become a Top 10 district in the state.
“Nearly one year ago, following Hurricane Ida, we promised our community that we’d go above and beyond to help it not only rebuild, but thrive,” said Marathon Petroleum’s Vice President of Refining Michael Henschen. “Our community’s educators are critical to our children’s futures, and we’re proud to support them through this initiative as St. John the Baptist Parish continues to recover.”
Following the announcement, teachers were treated to a hot meal courtesy of employee volunteers from the Garyville refinery.
The Celebrating Resiliency & A Brighter Tomorrow initiative launched after Hurricane Ida battered Southeast Louisiana in August 2021. Since then, Marathon Petroleum’s total investments in the parish now total approximately $2.85 million, including a $400,000 grant used to support a major residential rebuilding effort in the parish in coordination with the nonprofit organization Eight Days of Hope (EDOH).