St. Peter Chanel principal selected tops in five states for Southern Diocese

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2008


Editor and Publisher

PAULINA – Some people might call Joanna Foltz a diamond in the rough.

Certainly the parents who have kids attending St. Peter Chanel in Paulina would say so, when talking about the principal of their school.

The little school on River Road in Paulina has only 230 students attending its Pre-K to eighth grade classes, but hidden almost secretly in the student body is the leadership of Foltz, who was recently recognized in a very big way by the Archdiocese of Baton Rouge.

Foltz, who has been principal at St. Peter for six years, said she was shocked with a surprise school assembly recently, when she was told she had been named the Southern Region Distinguished Principal for the Archdiocese.

Foltz knew she had been named the Distinguished Principal for the Baton Rouge Archdiocese, but had pretty much forgot about the fact that advanced her to the Southern Region level of competition.

The Southern Region covers a total of five states, including all the schools in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee, making it clear Foltz was selected from a large list of very accomplished and talented educators.

One day recently in December, Father Frank Uter called a school assembly for what Foltz thought was something to do with vocation discussions.

Instead, as she was getting the students all seated and in order, she was called on stage by the superintendent of the Baton Rouge Diocese, and surprised to hear she was the winner of the prestigious Southern Region award.

“It’s so unbelievable to me,” she said. “This is such an honor since there are so many who sacrifice so much in teaching in the private sector.”

But for Foltz, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Originally a 26 year teacher from Spokane, Wash., she came to the River Region six years ago when her husband was transferred here with Kaiser Aluminum.

She had a Masters in Administration, and had already been working in staff development, considering an opportunity to get into administration. So when a co-worker of her husband’s said St. Peter had an opening for the principal job at St. Peter, it seemed just right.

“I got the job and the way I look at it, God had a plan for me to be here all along,” she said. “I love teaching, and I love what I am doing right here. This was the perfect position for this time in my life—my sons were both grown and gone—and God had a hand in me coming here. I’m just so happy I’m doing this.”

As for winning the award, Foltz had to originally fill out an application for the honor in the Baton Rouge Diocese, which concentrates on spirituality, leadership in the school, programs put into place, as well as parental and community involvement in the school. From that she was chosen for the Baton Rouge Archdiocese honor.

“To me, my top priority in everything we do is to make spirituality the most important thing,” she said. “But it’s just hard to talk about me with this thing. This award is about our whole school and all the wonderful people we have working here.’

Since coming here, Foltz’s husband has retired, but she said she isn’t thinking about that.

“I came from a big city in Spokane to this. It’s so different here, but I just love it so much. It’s quiet, and I love the people and the rich culture we have here,” she said. “I just believe God had a plan to bring me here and as far as I’m concerned, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”