After the flood: first-time principal helping rebuild lives

carmoucheFor first-time principal Lynn Mouton Carmouche, the first week of school should have been the time to get to know her faculty, students and families at Redemptorist St. Gerard School. The Baton Rouge, La., native had just returned to her hometown after teaching in three states for the past 20 years.

Just four days into the new school year, Southeast Louisiana was inundated by a historic rain event. Louisiana’s Great Flood of 2016 damaged more than 146,000 homes in the region. Carmouche had the challenge of reopening school as quickly as possible and helping her 200 students and faculty members rebuild their lives.

Many of the students attending the North Baton Rouge elementary school participate in the Louisiana Scholarship Program or the Tuition Donation Rebate Program. About half of students had flood damage to their homes. A quarter of the school’s faculty lost their homes in the flood.

“The first few weeks back it was tough – a lot of crying,” said Carmouche. She says the Redemptorist family is thankful for the outpouring of assistance from angels, both locally and from across the country.

While repairs to homes and sections of the school are still ongoing, Carmouche said kids are coming to school smiling. “We do a lot of uplifting activities every morning to start their day off right.”

On a recent morning, students were entertained by Carmouche’s family friend, Louisiana zydeco musician Sean Ardoin.

“It’s been really emotional for a lot of those who’ve lost everything,” Carmouche added. “It was a lot, but I finally see that we’re getting over the hump.”

Zydeco musician Sean Ardoin visits with Redemptorist St. Gerard School students.

October is National Principal’s Month and throughout the month, AFC will share stories from principals of choice schools across the country to celebrate their accomplishments and the accomplishments of principals nationwide.