As a champion for arts integration in Louisiana, Bethany France served as the Director of Arts-in-Education for the Louisiana Division of the Arts from 2007 – 2012. In that capacity, she spearheaded arts learning initiatives and administered arts education grants to schools, nonprofits, and social service agencies statewide. Bethany’s leadership was instrumental in creating a 4-year pilot, the ICI Initiative, demonstrating the success of arts integration for whole school education reform. ICI, an acronym for imagination, creativity, and innovation, is the French word for “here.”
Bethany garnered financial support for ICI from national funders including the Dana Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts. Her volunteer work has included serving on state and national panels including the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Originally from Massachusetts, Bethany France graduated with a B.S. in Communications from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1999. She went on to serve as Assistant Director of Readmissions at The New England Institute of Art and Communications Boston. In 2002, Bethany relocated to Louisiana to take part in Teach For America, where she taught second grade at Progress Elementary School in North Baton Rouge.
In 2004, Bethany took the position of Mentoring Director for the Big Buddy Program. There, she worked with both elementary aged children and their adult mentors. She also had the opportunity to develop a curriculum and serve as a director for a camp offered to children of incarcerated parents in Baton Rouge. She lives in Baton Rouge with her two children Abby and Lucas where she currently serves as PTO president at Dufrocq Elementary School.
Bethany was named Director of Louisiana A+ Schools in the fall of 2012.
Rachel Lock has a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She began her teaching career in 2008, where she developed an interest in using visual arts as a teaching strategy in her classroom. From there, she continued to expand her knowledge of arts integration in 2009 through the ICI Initiative, a program dedicated to promoting and modeling arts-integrated teaching strategies and ideas.
She has served on multiple arts integration committees, as well as most recently maintaining the role of Arts Liaison at her school. After witnessing first hand how the arts impacted her classroom, she decided to become a Louisiana A+ Schools Fellow in 2013. Since then, she has led multiple teams of Fellows during LAA+ Summer Institutes.
Director of Operations and Planning
Mary Nunnery Williams is the Director of Operations and Planning at LAA+ Schools. She has worked with LAA+ Schools as Founding Fellow since 2009. Mary began her passion to work with youth in 1996, where she taught elementary school in East Baton Rouge Parish and later middle school at Children’s Charter.
Mary had a passion not only to teach academics but to educate youth on leadership skills and economics. Therefore, she obtained employment as an in-school director at the Big Buddy Program, serving youth in East Baton Rouge Parish for over 9 years. As an In-school Director, she developed a leadership and science program for 23 elementary schools in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. Mary has also worked with the Junior Achievement organization as an Education Manager, training teachers and volunteers on how to integrate finance literacy in the classroom.
Mary has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and thirty hours in Elementary Education from Southern University A&M of Baton Rouge, LA. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at Southern University A&M of Baton Rouge.