Ascension Parish School Board


Ascension Names Principal and Assistant Principal of Early College Option Program


This is a media release from Ascension Public Schools.
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CONTACT: Jackie Tisdell, 225-210-7567

Ascension Public Schools Names Principal and Assistant Principal of Early College Option Program

Early College Option Principal Julian Surla and Assistant Principal Cynthia Jackson
Gonzales, La. – Ascension Public Schools announces the hiring of two new leadership positions for its Early College Option (ECO) Program: Principal Julian Surla and Assistant Principal Cynthia Jackson. Previously, ECO was led by Surla as a program administrator.

"The Early College Option just celebrated its first graduating class and has grown tremendously since its inception four years ago. The increasing enrollment merited the establishment of a core leadership team, and we are excited to see the program continue to flourish under the leadership of Julian Surla with support from Assistant Principal Cynthia Jackson," said Ascension Public Schools Superintedent David Alexander.

Early College Option enrollment grew from 30 to 288 in its first four years and is expected to exceed 360 by Fall 2017.

Head and shoulders of Julian Surla in suit and tieJulian Surla officially became principal of Early College Option on July 1, 2017.

Originally from Slidell, Surla has worked in education for 15 years, 10 of those in Ascension Parish. He began teaching at Destrehan High School in 2001 and moved to Dutchtown High School in 2006. After six years, Surla became the administrator of the new Early College Option program when it began in 2012.

"Thank you to the Ascension Parish School Board and district leadership team for allowing me to be a part of Early College since its inception. It is the greatest job I have ever had," said Surla. "Having the courage and faith to not only allow me to continue running the program as principal, but also to provide an assistant principal will further enhance our abilities to grow the program and help students succeed."

Surla earned a bachelor's degree in social studies education and a master's degree in education from Southeastern Louisiana University. 
He and his wife of 14 years, Yvette, have a 12-year-old daughter, Ava, and eight-year-old son, Ian. Surla has also been a professional musician for 26 years and performs locally in several groups.

Head & shoulders of Cynthia Jackson in striped shirtCynthia Jackson officially became the assistant principal of Early College Option on July 1, 2017. 

A native of New Orleans, Jackson began her career 30 years ago with the Houston Independent School District and then spent time in the Dallas Independent School District. In 2001, she returned home to work as a teacher and human resources specialist with New Orleans Public Schools until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Jackson relocated to Ascension Parish and worked as a teacher then assistant principal of Central Elementary before moving to Central Primary as the assistant principal.

"It is with great pleasure and excitement to be appointed to work with Early College Option. Since I have had the opportunity to work with Ascension students in the primary and middle school levels, this is a new challenge to grow and continue to work with students during their last phase of school and as they transition into their next phase of life," said Jackson. "Inspiring and motivating students is a passion and some of the highlights I have always capitalized on and enjoyed as an educator and administrator. I appreciate how I have been welcomed and already included as part of the ECO team."

Jackson earned a bachelor's degree in special education from Dillard University, a master's degree and superintendent endorsement from Texas A&M University, and completed 30+ hours from the University of New Orleans.

The Early College Option program allows students to dually enroll in high school and River Parishes Community College (RPCC). Upon graduation, the students earn both a high school diploma and an associate's degree. The program began in 2012 modeled after the Early College Academy program in Lafayette. Students must enter the program as freshmen. In Ascension, students remain enrolled at their home schools while they attend classes on the RPCC campus. This allows them to participate in extracurricular activities at the traditional high schools while accelerating their academic pursuits.

For more information about ECO, visit For more information about Ascension Public Schools, visit

David Alexander

Patricia Russo

Board President

Taft Kleinpeter
Board Vice President

Robyn Penn Delaney

Scott Duplechein
Julie Blouin
Kerry Diez
John Murphy
Shawn Sevario
Louis Lambert
Troy Gautreau, Sr.
Lorraine Wimberly
ABOUT ASCENSION PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Ascension Public Schools system is the largest employer in the parish with over 2,800 employees that support 22,000 students in 27 schools.  An A-rated school district since 2011-12, school performance has grown by 69% over the past four years and currently ranks fourth in Louisiana.
  • G.W. Carver Primary won the prestigious 2017 National TAP Founder's Award
  • Dutchtown Middle student Aubrey Green is a finalist for the 2017 Louisiana Middle School Student of the Year and Dutchtown's Hiba Hasan was the 2016 Louisiana Middle School Student of the Year
  • St. Amant High Principal Mia Edwards is a semifinalist for 2018 Louisiana Principal of the Year
  • Ascension Public Schools earned the Government Finance Officers Association's (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the fourth consecutive year. Ascension is one of only two school districts in Louisiana to achieve this honor.
  • Ascension Public Schools won a Gold Medallion Award from the National School Public Relations Association, the only recipient from Louisiana to receive this top honor in recent history