Acadiana educators took home a near clean sweep of statewide recognitions given recently by Louisiana’s largest educator organization, earning three out of four prestigious 2011 Louisiana Association of Educators Image Awards.

The LAE Teacher Image Award — which honors superior teaching standards, community involvement, leadership and more — went to longtime Lafayette High School Social Studies Teacher Rodolfo Espinoza. Espinoza is the school’s jazz band director and teaches civics/free enterprise, world geography, advanced placement American government and psychology. A Chile native, Espinoza earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from UL Lafayette and also holds a master’s degree in music performance.

Linda Reynolds, an Evangeline Elementary School special education resource assistant, received the LAE Education Support Professional Image Award, given to someone who exemplifies professionalism in the education support field, is committed to the LAE and its mission and enhances the perceptions of education support personnel.

Tonya Bolden-Ball of Lafayette is the principal and program director of the Volunteers of America Juvenile Alternative School’s Opelousas Campus. A past president of the Lafayette Commission on the Needs of Women, Bolden-Ball has been honored by the LAE with the Human & Civil Rights Trailblazer Award.

LAE spokeswoman Ashley Davis says the Trailblazer Award is given annually to an educator who “display creativity, determination, perseverance, and extraordinary courage in achieving human and civil rights.

“[Trailblazer winners] contribute to the achievement of self-determination by women and minorities ... promote public policy designed to eliminate gender and racial stereotyping in education and in other sectors of the economy, establish an ongoing program or institution for the improvement of human relations and civil rights,” Davis says.

LAE is the largest educators group in the state and is active in lobbying the Legislature and taking a stance on education initiatives statewide.

All three winners are members of the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators.

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