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Leader brings Cajun twist to book time

Brookhaven Elementary School students were swept away to a nottoo distant land of interesting dialect and different foods asBrookhaven School District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharyaspoke in her best Cajun accent and read a few fairy tales with aCreole twist Friday.

Karmacharya read words that ended in “eaux” and spoke aboutboudin and other Louisiana treats from Mike Artell’s collection ofCajun fairy tales to five BES classes. Stories from the collectionincluded “Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood” and “Three LittleCajun Pigs.”

“I always offer to go and read, and rarely do people take me upon it,” said Karmacharya.

Third-grade teacher Mignon McKennon took Karmacharya up on heroffer to make words come alive for her students while attending asoftball game. McKennon’s class will be working on writing theirown fairy tales and the elementary teacher saw the opportunity tohave the district’s new leader become more familiar with BES.

“It was really to complement what they’re doing and gettingready to do in class,” said Karmacharya of the decision to read thechosen stories.

As the faculty became knowledgeable of Karmacharya’s visit,other teachers also wanted their students to get to know thesuperintendent a little bit better.

“It kind of ballooned from there,” said Karmacharya.

Sharing the selected readings with the BES students was likebringing a piece of her family to Brookhaven. The storiesKarmacharya read were fairy tales that she reads to hergrandchildren, Acelyn, 3, and Lee, 5.

“The excitement on their faces and enthusiasm is the same,” saidKarmacharya of the similarities of reading to family and students.”Children are children.

After reading to a few classes in the morning and working up anappetite, Karmacharya was able to eat a lunch consisting ofFrito-pie with Queen Hawkins’ fourth-grade class.

The superintendent’s visit was about more than Cajun tales orreading to students. During her visit, students were able to get toknow their new superintendent beyond qualifications, educationalbackground and teaching philosophies.

The young students discovered that Karmacharya was born inKansas City, Mo., her favorite color is purple, being a middleschool principal and alternative school teacher were some of herfavorite jobs and her favorite flower is the fleur de leis.

“They had so many questions,” said Karmacharya. “So many greatquestions.”

She said she hopes the visit shows students that she cares andhas a sense of appreciation for what they do. Also, after recentlymoving to Brookhaven she sees being involved in the schools as away of becoming a part of the community.

“To me, I am a teacher at heart,” she said. “I have to be withthe kids. It’s incredibly important to me and a part of who Iam.”