LAFAYETTE, LA Dedicated public school mother, civic leader and artist Hannah Smith Mason announced this evening she’s running for the District 8 seat on the Lafayette Parish School Board in the October 12 election. Surrounded by family, friends and neighbors, Mason made the announcement from her driveway, just a stone’s throw from Woodvale Elementary where her three children attend school. A former Vice President of the Woodvale PTA and room mother for the past five years, Mason wants to bring her parent perspective and hands-on experience to the board.
“I wouldn’t be running if I hadn’t felt the strong call and need to do this,” Mason says. “Like many parents in Lafayette Parish, I have felt alone and discouraged by policies or procedures in our school system that haven’t made sense to my family, that made us feel like no one had carefully thought out the plan. It’s clear that our community cares for our public schools, but we’ve got to straighten out the path to how we put our best foot forward to get to that brighter future. I applaud our current board for righting the ship and heading in that direction, and as a creative thinker and innovative doer who knows our schools well, I believe I can play an integral part of that momentum.”
Mason has a track record of success with her community advocacy, having co-founded the popular LASOAR sports and recreation program for children, served on the board of the Acadiana Symphony, and as Secretary of the Junior League of Lafayette in 2016-17 helping young women reach their leadership potential and address critical needs in our community. She currently works from home as an artist and performs Community Outreach and Business Development for her family’s company, Smith Mason & Co.
Mason says her top priority as a School Board member is improving overall communications to parents, faculty and the community, and to serve as a present and honest leader to keep building community trust and faith in our schools. She believes that “our entire community plays a role in creating the school system we want and deserve. I hope to help everyone understand that and teamwork towards the goal of being the best and reflecting our amazing community through our schools.”
Second on her list: improving efficiency by looking at system resources and procedures line by line and ensuring they make common sense and reflect education priorities so that ultimately board decisions are producing the intended outcomes. Mason’s third priority is boosting a healthier school-esteem, from students, to parents, to teachers, to the administration, to the community supporting them.
“With my children growing older and rising to higher grades, I feel called to dig deeper in what I’m able to give to support our schools – in which I feel great pride,” she continued. “I’m a proud product of our public schools and our family chose to live here specifically because of our school system. I never want to hear again, ‘What do you expect, it’s public school?’ I expect the best, and I’m not going to stop until we all know it and believe it in Lafayette Parish.”
Mason’s parents moved to Lafayette Parish during the oil bust of the late 80s from Dallas, TX. Hannah began 4th grade at Green T. Linden, then moved to the arts academy at L.J. Alleman for 5th grade, and on to Paul Breaux Middle for the Gifted and Talented program. She graduated from Lafayette High in 1997 then left for college at Rhodes College in Memphis, where she earned a degree in French.
After living in a number of cities across the U.S., Hannah and Marcus Mason made the decision to move back to Lafayette in 2014, specifically to start Smith Mason & Co, a Well Control, Safety and Leadership training company, knowing their three young children could attend her own siblings’ alma mater Woodvale Elementary. Marcus previously worked for Baker Hughes, and the young family followed his transfers from Houston to Shreveport, to Pittsburgh and finally to Denver. Every transfer opportunity started with the question, ‘What are the public schools like there?’ Lafayette won out in the Mason’s decision to start their company with the simple fact that the public schools are better than the ones in New Orleans and Houston, and daily life in Lafayette is “a lot sweeter with more time for family.”