Coach Babin calling it quits after 33 years in St. Charles schools

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 1, 1998

By MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / June 1, 1998

LULING – The St. Charles Parish School System has seen a lot of changesover the years. From a small, rural parish system, it has grown into one ofthe top systems in the state with the highest teacher salaries and a population of over 10,000 students.

Leo Babin has seen many of those changes in his 33 years with the system.

He has been working in St. Charles Parish Schools through the VietnamConflict and the Persian Gulf War, from the excitement created by Woodstock to the excitement created by Tiger Woods. Babin will takethose memories with him when his retirement becomes effective July 1.

Babin has been associated with St. Charles Parish Schools almost all hislife. A native of Norco, he graduated from Destrehan High School beforeattending Delgado to become a certified mechanical draftsman.

Babin worked in that position for a couple of years before deciding what he really wanted to do was coach. So he went back to college atSoutheastern to get a degree in education, and his first job was back at his alma mater – Destrehan. Babin said teaching was as much a learningexperience for him as it was for the students at first.

“It was unique experience to go back and work for the principal you had in high school,” Babin said of his boss, Harry Hurst.

Babin coached football and track and taught social studies at Destrehan from 1965 to 1978 before becoming athletic director in 1979. In 1980, hewas offered a position in the central office as head of the community and adult education program.

“It was rewarding working with students who were going back to school,” Babin said, adding that few school systems have as much education for adults as St. Charles Parish.Babin expanded the program from 20 offerings to the 80-plus classes it offers today.

In 1985, Superintendent Stanley Berard named Babin director of communications. One of his first duties was working with business andindustry to create a partnership between them and the school system. Thedepartment also worked with the Adopt-A-School program, seeing it become more sophisticated and widespread.

Babin said business and industry understand education, the system understands the needs of business and industry and both are better for it.

Babin wore many different hats in community relations. His job dutiesincluded working with the media, maintaining the adult and community education and school-age child care programs, monitoring college credit courses and running the school system’s cable access channel.

“There were no boring days here,” Babin said.

The thing he will remember most about his days working in the school system are the people he was associated with, he said.

“I am proud to have been associated with some excellent educators,” Babin said.

Babin said there were three people who really impacted him – Hurst, who Babin said was the best educator he has known; former superintendent Cookie Gomez, who he said taught him everything he knows about dealing with the community; and Berard, who he said is still one of his mentors.

As for his plans for the future, Babin said he would like to play a little golf and spend more time with his three grandchildren. He and his wifewill also travel, and he would also like to expand his ministry in the church.

As for the changes he has seen over the years, he said teaching practices have stayed basically the same but that society has changed quite a bit.

“Society changes reflected in the schools,” Babin said. “Students todayare different because their environment is different. They are subjectedto a lot more things than students in the 1960s were.”Looking back, Babin said the best things he did was coaching and teaching.

And Babin said there is one badge of honor he is proud of – after 19 years, he is still known as Coach Babin by people in the community. And it is thatcommunity, Babin said, that will continue to make the school system better in the future.

“The school system gets better every day,” Babin said. “It gets better atwhat it does. It has a great tax base and support from the community. Thepeople in St. Charles Parish appreciate education and are willing to givethe funds it needs to do the job it does.”

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