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The Diocese of Lafayette’s High School Principal of the Year Dawn Shipp (left) and Elementary Principal of the Year Virginia Morein (right) are pictured here standing in front of the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue located in the high school foyer. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

Sacred Heart principals named principals of the year

Over the past several years, curriculum and religious formation have undergone changes at both Sacred Heart Elementary and Sacred Heart High School that have resulted in the students becoming more well rounded in the classroom and in their spiritual formation.
For their efforts in bringing about much of these changes, both principals Virginia Morein and Dawn Shipp have been recognized by the Diocese of Lafayette as being named Principals of the Year.
“It’s an honor, but it’s very humbling,” Morein said. “It was a big shock and a big honor for Sacred Heart. It’s a big deal for our school to be noticed because we’re a little school in a rural area that was noticed for what we’re doing.”
Echoing those sentiments was Shipp who said, “It’s a very humbling experience for me being an alum of Sacred Heart and having been given the job of assistant principal in 2009. It’s been an amazing experience with these kids and with the school.”
Both principals agreed the recognition was made possible because of their working relationship. Morein said, “Ms. Dawn and I are probably the best team of high school and elementary principals who have worked together. That’s very important for the schools to be successful.”
Shipp added, “We work really well together to make these schools work and to make them as successful as they are.”
These recent successes on both Sacred Heart campuses mainly come from advancements in the classroom. “We’ve been doing a lot to build up our curriculum in math, ELA, and in science,” Morein said. “Science is now all about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and all about projects. It’s changing the way we teach. It’s more student directed and more hands-on.”
“It’s not just students sitting in desks anymore with teachers lecturing,” Morein continued. “That’s why they’re learning, and that’s why they’re excited.”
Besides changes in the secular curriculum, changes have also been occurring in religious education curriculum which begin in the elementary and carry over as the students enter high school.
Part of these changes involve the implementation of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Theology of the Body. “We’re introducing the actual Theology of the Body lessons in 6th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade,” Morein explained. “By 10th grade, they will have the new chastity program whereas they used to do a small one in the 8th grade.”
She added more religious educational changes are in the works. “We discussed having campus ministry next year for 7th and 8th grade,” Morein said. “We’re going to have religious foundation in the elementary, so the students will be able to know what that program is in the high school. We’ll have a stepping stone for athletics, academics, and now campus ministry.”
On the high school level, the Come, Lord Jesus! program that was started in 2010 continues provide meditations on the Gospel readings. Shipp called this a positive for her students. Another positive, according to Shipp, is having priests on campus.
“Having priests on our faculty has definitely been a positive aspect and a blessing for our school,” she said. “There’s much more rigor now with the religious curriculum, so having Fr. (Mitch) Guidry involved with teaching Church history, having Fr. (Blake) Dubroc as the parochial vicar and religion director, and having Lynn Landreneau and Ann-Christine Jagneaux and Fr. Tom (Voorhies) all involved and working together to bring the religious aspect of our school has definitely been a positive thing for us.”
She continued, “Our religious formation, our curriculum, and our extra-curricular activities are always in transition. And, it’s always changing for the positive.”
While changes on their respective campuses have led them to being named Principals of the Year, Morein and Shipp both gave credit for their successes to the teachers in the classroom. They both said, “We could not have achieved the success of our school without our amazing faculty.
Morein added about her award, “It’s good for the school, and it’s good for our families and our children and the community. We’re always working hard as we look for new ideas that are coming out, and we’re not afraid to keep trying and going after what’s coming and necessary to stay on top.”
Shipp concluded, “The opportunity I’ve been given here at Sacred Heart has been humbling and a blessing. I cannot put into words what it’s been like to be part of these kids’ lives. There’s no place like the Halls of Troy, and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.”

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