Principal of the Year Triche finds success among the ruins

Published 3:45 pm Friday, April 26, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson


RESERVE – The St. John the Baptist Parish public school district recently named East St. John Elementary School Principal Patricia Triche as one of three Principal of the Year award winners.

Triche said she has business degrees but chose to go into education because the business world never motivated her as much as teaching. The principal said she was excited about receiving the award even though the pickings were slim.

“Well there are only two of us,” said Triche, with a chuckle. “I was very excited about it. Of course you’re surprised. You never know what’s going to happen because East St. john and West St. John both had the highest academic growth in the district. It would not have surprised me at all if Mrs. Merrick had won it.”

Triche has been with the St. John Parish Public School system for 20 years. She began her teaching career as an instructor at LaPlace Elementary and served in various positions at other schools in the parish since then. Triche credits her resume with helping her remember the names of her student body, since she has known most of them since kindergarten.

“She’s wonderful at encouraging the students to not give up. There are a lot of students that enter the high school that don’t think they will graduate, and Mrs. Triche stays on them — she knows their names and talks to them personally,” said graduation coach Elizabeth Leatherwood.

Triche lists several of the school’s academic acheivements proudly. She said that even though they missed a month of school during Hurricane Isaac, the students’ test scores still improved noticeably. Thiry-one percent of the test scores went to proficient level, which is good or excellent. Graduation rates also went from 62 to 68 percent, and more than 1,500 seniors were earning college credit in school last year.

Triche said that her best asset is knowing when to delegate.

“I think that being able to empower other people around me to make decisions and have collaboration in the decision-making process at the school enables us to get a lot more done than if I made all of the decisions by myself,” she said. “Especially during Hurricane Isaac. I think the collaborative spirit that I have allows me to be a better leader.”

The principal also admits she views her students much the same way she views her own children and that the best part of the her job is working with them.

“They’re my students and my children. I fuss at them like my own, and I love them like my own. If you’re not connected with the students, no matter how much you do or how much you try, they’re not going to give it their all. They have that old saying ‘They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’ so I really try to support the students as best as I possibly can,” she said.

“I’ve known Mrs. Triche since preschool, and she’s the most kind, caring person. She’s outstanding. If she hadn’t won, I’d have been mad because she’s like a second mom to me,” said 18-year-old senior Dentell Webber.

Triche hopes to advance to regional and state levels with the award because she sees it as her duty to represent the school. She is feels that she and her student body have successfully overcome the challenges places before them with help from a very supportive community.

“I think morale and culture is a big thing, and with all that we’ve gone through, it’s rewarding to see it all come together. Although we’ve had the challenge of coming to a school that was empty, we did it,” she said.

Triche and the two other district winners are now eligible to participate regional and state competitions for Principal of the Year.