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New voice to lead parish’s largest school

RESERVE — A positive role model.

An educator who has experience as a principal.

Someone who helped move schools forward by showing growth.

Check. Check. Check.

St. John the Baptist Parish School Board Superintendent Kevin George said those are qualities he wanted in the next principal at East St. John High School, adding Cory Butler has all three.

Cory Butler

Cory Butler

District officials announced Butler’s hiring as ESJ principal Tuesday, saying he would report to work May 11.

Butler replaces Patricia Triche, who has been promoted to director of early childhood education, which oversees the Head Start and prekindergarten programs.

St. John Communications Specialist Jennifer Boquet said previous director Pamelyn Smith moved to another administrative position.

George said the time is now to get Butler on campus and in place as principal, because ESJ students — displaced at the Leon Godchaux campus since Hurricane Isaac — are set to return to their Airline Highway campus this fall.

“It is a very exciting time for us,” George said. “We are ready to just burst at the seams with excitement, because we are getting our children out of the Leon Godchaux building. We cannot wait to get them from there.

“Everything is on track. That is why it is important to get (Butler) on as soon as possible so that he could transition with Ms. Triche, because Ms. Triche will still assist through the end of the school year, through graduation and with the move back to Airline.”

Currently working in the Louisiana Department of Edu-cation helping school districts and administrators implement Jump Start and best practices to improve student achievement, culture and climate, St. John officials touted Butler’s experience as a factor in his hiring.

District officials said Butler previously served as Ellender Memorial High School and Schwarz Alternative School principal, while also working as an assistant principal at H.L. Bourgeois High School.

Under his leadership, Ellender improved its School Performance Score 23 points in four years, district officials said.

Butler earned the designation of Louisiana School Turnaround Specialist and spent eight years with the Boys and Girls Club, serving as Houma-Thi-bodaux branch director and assistant director at the Terrebonne Parish Juvenile Detention Center.

“I am new to East St. John and St. John Parish, but I’m not new to life,” Butler said. “There are things that I know that these students are going through and will go through. When it comes to adversity and success, teaching them how to handle both is important. What we say is very important when it comes to kids, because you can either point the kids in the right direction or they can go just the opposite.”

Butler said staff members, students and parents would see his style as very personable.

“I’m one of those people who likes to be in the mix,” he said. “I’m a person that can always be approached, talked to. As far as with the kids, I lead by my actions. I’ve been through a lot of things both in and outside of education.”

Butler said there would be one vision at the high school, which starts at the district level and trickles on down.

“How I see East St. John progressing is how Mr. George sees the district progressing,” he said.

George confirmed that sentiment.

“East St. John is our largest school, 31 percent of our kids (1,315 students) attend that school,” George said. “We know as East St. John goes, out entire district goes. Our vision is to make East St. John a top ten school and make this parish a top ten district in this entire state.”