When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher. For about a day. And only if there was chalk involved. And then only until I had to erase the chalkboard and I turned everything white. I am just kidding. It is true though, that teachers have been an enigma to me. Perhaps it’s because I struggled academically; there were subjects that I just could not wrap my brain around...math being my hardest class. All I can say is that I have a profound respect for teachers and in this designated space I want to shine a light on one of my favorites.
When I first contacted Mr. Randy J. Schexnayder of Kaplan High School it was like taking a walk down my own memory lane, or in this case, Pirate Lane. “Coach Randy” taught me in the mid-80’s and he was a teacher I have never forgotten.
If I were to share with you the questions I asked of him, his answers would read as though from a resume, and a mighty impressive one at that! He graduated from Kaplan High School in 1974 (when Kaplan High School was actually located where Rene Rost Middle School is presently). From that year until 1979 he attended USL with a major in PE and a minor in Math and while attending he was the trainer for both football and baseball teams.
Upon graduating in 1979, he began teaching at Kaplan High School until 1986. Then he moved on to principal at Abbeville High School until 2003, during which he was named High School Principal of the year. After AHS, Randy became Assistant Superintendent and then finally Superintendent from 2007-2013. Thus far he has spent 14 years in the capacity of principal (including Indian Bayou and assistant principal at Henry), and 10 years at the school board office giving a total of 35 years in the school system.
His resume is inspiring there is no doubt about that. But when I interviewed him in Room 110 (the same room where it began for him all those years ago!), I realized that these credentials, awards, experiences... it was for one thing...the children.
At once Randy begins to become someone else to me. He wasn’t just “my” coach, but now he is my son’s teacher, too. And there’s just no way that a person can continue to give and participate in the manner that Randy does without a surplus of passion for what one loves. When the reason why he came out of retirement to come back and teach became obvious to me, I realized that I could’ve done away with all the credentials and story of his work history. While it is extensive and impressive my original focus began to change.
Because of my own experiences with Coach Randy, I already knew that he loves the kids in this community. I remember his tenacity in helping kids. But what I forgot was the way he never stops searching for improved ways to teach. I failed to remember how impassioned he is in helping those kids who are trying their hardest. He’s the kind of teacher that really does try to catch a child doing things right. He doesn’t play it safe; he’s real about how important education is and he has the experience to know this at every level.
He knew that he wanted to be a coach and teacher since he was very young. Born to Floyd and Delores Bouillon Broussard, he has 5 siblings: Karen Sonnier, Lisa Isaac, Jolene Schexnayder, Dana Gary and half siblings, Galen and Kayla. And it was in 4th grade where his teacher, Mildred Meaux, first planted the seed to becoming a teacher. Or at least that is what he thought about when he wasn’t hanging out with his friends, Glenn Simon, Brian Abshire and Randall Sonnier (dec.), or working in the field cutting rice or soybeans. Fast forward a few years ahead and he meets and marries Judy Boudreaux Schexnayder and together they have 3 children: Jacob, 29, married to Aimee; Scott, 27, married to Dawn Fontenot with 1 son, Jay Thomas; and Lauren, 19.
It occurs to me that when Randy was speaking about the things most important to him like education, it is surpassed only by the love of his family. He claims to have had good luck when it comes to this but I know from my own life’s education that although luck can help you, ultimately, it takes commitment and effort beyond what is taught in the classroom. The irony is that it BEGINS in the classroom. It begins with having a teacher that believes in you and sustains your efforts to become your best self. He is the kind of teacher that expects your greatest but not without helping you find it. I was lucky enough to experience this first hand and thankful to an infinite degree that others have, too.