The Catholic Commentator 

It was a sunny fall day in the office of St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge where several members of the faculty, wearing Red Stickers shirts, were chatting and smiling until someone said, “Where is the principal?” Within seconds, the new principal walked in and the room lit up with energy from smiles, laughter and hugs. This was Stacia Andricain’s fifth day on the job as the new leader of SJA and except for the more than half dozen massive fresh flower arrangements decorating her office it was business as usual at the all girls’ school.  

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New SJA principal Stacia Andricain joins students from left, Katherine Sclafani, Hillary Lee and Emily Boudreaux during lunch hour.  Photo by Bonny Van 

 

“This arrangement came from the Class of 2016,” she said, pointing to an arrangement of roses and lilies. “And, this one came from the Class of 2017.”  

On Sept. 22, Andricain was chosen principal to replace Dr. Michelle Lambert, who left after two years. Lambert was preceded by Linda Harvison, who was principal for 11 years. 

“The messages I have received through social media, emails have been …,” said Andricain through her smile and tears. “I can’t even describe what this week has been like and to feel so supported. It has just been a beautiful, beautiful moment but I’m ready to hit the ground running and keep the school going on pace because it’s an excellent school.” 

Andricain grew up in Moreauville, in Avoyelles civil parish, where she attended public school. As an undergrad at LSU, Andricain worked part-time in the university’s admissions office. After graduating in 1996 with a degree in human ecology and minor in sociology, she hoped to land a full-time position in admissions but was passed over for another candidate. 

Andricain said she was devastated at the time but began concentrating on plans to attend graduate school. That’s when she learned about a secretarial job at St. Joseph’s Academy from a good friend who was teaching at the school. The job would allow her to save money and attend classes at night.  

“It was almost somewhat divine (intervention) that Mrs. Jacqueline Labat, currently our associate principal, answered the phone. She said, ‘Can you come right now?’ ” said Andricain.  

She was offered the job that day though she did tell them she was staying only one year. However, at the end of the first year, she was offered more money and more responsibilities if she worked for another year while finishing graduate school.  

“And, now it’s year 22 and I never left because I absolutely fell in love with everything that was happening at St. Joseph’s Academy,” she said with a smile.  

After earning her master’s degree in human resources and workforce development, Andricain was promoted to activities coordinator, but her responsibilities included much more than that, and she worked closely with Labat, who was disciplinarian for the school. She was also involved in other school matters and learned how things operated from the ground up, providing on-the-job training that would eventually land her in the principal’s office.  

“We just left a Mass where I was fortunate enough to have four of my greatest mentors all in the same room, and I just called them up to thank them personally for what they’ve done,” said Andricain. “Linda Harvison, our former principal, Jacqueline Labat, Sister Adele Lambert, who is our former president, and Kathy Meares, who is our former assistant principal and registrar. They saw something in me and they always, always took the time to let me be involved, and sometimes I would just sit in meetings and not say a thing but they knew that I was listening and I was learning and they pushed me to do more.”  

Mentoring is something Andricain plans to do going forward.  

“That is one of my main goals as principal is to do that for someone else, to do it for our faculty members who want to have a leadership role in this school and for our students to take on leadership positions,” she said.  

“I’m so happy for SJA,” said Labat of Andricain’s new appointment. “I really believe that she has the entire picture.”  

Because of Andricain’s history and longevity at the school and her relationships with the faculty, staff, students and parents, the transition in leadership at SJA has been seamless. Walking down the hall, she greets every student and they smile. One even asks for help in locating someone. Andricain takes the time to try to help her out. Everyone knows her and she knows everyone, all 1,060 students.  

“She’s the heart of the school,” said Emily Boudreaux, a senior at SJA. “We always felt like she was that person (the principal) for us. It feels like normal, like that’s how it’s supposed to be.”  

“We have a personal connection with her,” said Hillary Lee, also a senior. “We were very excited when she was named principal.”  

The mission of St. Joseph’s Academy is a vocation for the Andricain family. Stacia’s husband, Hugo, began teaching at the school in 2011 after chaperoning an SJA mission trip to Nicaragua. And, their mixed Beagle is named Sticker Josephine Andricain, with the initials SJA.  

Andricain still plans to be at every school event; will travel with students on the summer mission trip; and students can still pull her out in the hallway to do “stupid things on videos.”  

As for her new office, Andricain doesn’t plan to do much decorating, except to paint a red accent wall a calming color: “Poolhouse blue.” And, her door will stay open.  

“This door is typically closed because it’s right into the hallway,” she said. “I want to try to have this door open because I have to see the girls and I have to see the faculty and staff and I want to let them stop and tell me about their day. I know sometimes that’s difficult when all the things are piling up on your desk but it’s what keeps my heart full. It’s what motivates me everyday.”  

It’s just another day on the job for Andricain, just in a different office with a different desk and a different title. But, the door remains open and the smiles, laughter and hugs continue, just like they always have.