The Louisiana Education Department has announced the winners of 2017 Principal of the Year and Teacher of the Year.

These excellent educators were recognized at the 10th Annual Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration in Baton Rouge.

The 2017 Principal of the Year is from right here in northwest Louisiana. Sedric Clark is the principal at Mansfield High School in DeSoto Parish. According to an Education Department news release, during his six years at the helm, the graduation rate has increased from 66% to 96% and the school has moved from a D to a B letter grade. The school has also been recognized as a Top Gains School for 2015 and a TAP Founders Award Finalist in 2016.

The 2017 Teacher of the Year is Joni Smith, a 7th-grade science teacher at Albany Middle School in Livingston Parish. Her students rank first in Livingston Parish for test scores in Life Science, and fourth in the state. She drove away with a one-year lease on a new Mercedes, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz of Baton Rouge.

"The educators honored tonight are a fine representation of the high-caliber professionals we are fortunate to have in Louisiana schools," said State Education Superintendent John White. This is a chance to celebrate the profession of teaching, a chance to recommit to the effort to ensuring our teachers have what they need to do their job well. It's a chance to recognize our state's educators not only for their dedication to their students and their profession, but also for their demonstrated ability to educate and inspire their students through meaningful and effective learning experiences."

Also recognized at the event were the 2017 Elementary, Middle and High School Teacher and Principal of the Year winners. The Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Amber Beach at Princeton Elementary in Bossier Parish. The Middle School Teacher of the Year is Anna Tarver at Gilbert Junior High School in Franklin Parish. And the High School Teacher of the Year is Torrence Williams at West Feliciana Parish High School.

Elementary School Principal of the Year is Elizabeth Cook at Cypress Point University Elementary in Monroe. At the Middle School level, it's Kenny Delcambre at Sixth Ward Middle School in Lafourche Parish. And the High School honor goes to Joey LaRoche at KIPP Renaissance High in New Orleans.

"Great teachers and principals open the door for our children to achieve their dreams," said Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Vice President Holly Boffy. "Celebrating the efforts of Louisiana's outstanding educators through the Teacher and Principal of the Year program is just a small way of acknowledging the exceptional work and long hours these individuals put in every day to prepare our students for their future."

The Louisiana Association of School Executive's Superintendent of the Year was also named during the festivities. He's Darrell Fariburn of Washington Parish, who's in his 10th year at the helm of the school system.