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Principal Corey Crochet: The Lifelong Learner

By July 18, 2019February 21st, 2022K-12 Administrators, Star School Leader

Principal Corey Crochet’s passion for learning has followed him from school yards to construction sites and back again. This is the seventh spotlight in a series of twelve, in which we feature the winning recipients of Kiddom’s annual Star School Leader Award. Look for the others over the coming months by signing up for our newsletter, or check out our School Leadership page, which we will update with each new spotlight.


Great leaders are remembered for how they depart from the norm. But the most effective leaders often have experiences that allow them to blend in with their dependents and peers. Such is the case at Labadieville Middle School in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, where Principal Corey Crochet has presided over the last seven years. 

Built in 1939, Labadieville Middle School is a relic of the Roosevelt administration. But unlike other historical artifacts, the public schools of this nation aren’t always nurtured with the same amount of care. Assumption Parish, where Labadieville is located, is very close to the district line, making it hard to retain students and teachers. “We compete with higher wages and higher salaries all around us,” Principal Crochet says. “My assistant principal and I both started as teachers in 2004, and we were the only two out of a group of nine to return the following year.”

The students affected by this teacher turnover are 48% Black, 48% White, and 4% Hispanic. In state evaluations, Labadieville oscillates between a C and D School Improvement score, which summarizes how well the school is preparing its students for the next level of study. “The vision is to eventually get to a B status and stay there. Last year, we were 8/10ths of a point away from a C (a score of 60).”

“Mr. Crochet’s attitude of removing all obstacles that get in the way of learning is evident across the campus. He tackles problems and is not afraid to go back to the drawing board when something is not working.”

–Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

From a certain vantage point, the school’s chances look promising. Labadieville Middle earned a B on the Progress Score during the 2017-2018 school year. Two feeder schools provide a continuous flow of investment from neighboring communities. And many Labadieville students readily demonstrate their preparedness by earning high school credits before they move on. 

But an “overall score” doesn’t tell the full story of what goes on behind Labadieville’s doors. And the same can be said of the school’s sitting principal.


The Building Blocks of an Educator

For Corey Crochet, the path toward education took a few detours. In his words, “my attitude in high school was a bit unbecoming of an educator.” He failed the 10th grade as a student, leading to a stint in construction.

But it was there that he discovered his knack for instruction. “My first teaching job was teaching pipefitting to a group of guys that were all older than me, but didn’t have the knowledge of the trade that I did.”

“Mr. Crochet is constantly learning and because of this, he inspires his teachers to do the same …Whether it is working to improve classroom instruction, or creating a culture of learning, Mr. Crochet models his love of learning every day.”

–Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

This passion led him back to school, where he is finishing up his Doctor of Education. When Corey finally returned in the classroom as a teacher, it was kismet. He taught social studies at Labadieville for seven years before following the administrative track to his hometown. Inspiringly, he served there as an assistant principal not too far from the school out of which he once flunked. After one year as an AP, Crochet applied for the principal opening at LMS, and began his post in 2012. 

Although most of his years in education have been at the same school, Principal Crochet recognizes that every unique learning community has valuable lessons to impart. During his early years as a principal, Crochet had the opportunity to visit other schools across the nation, including Dr. Steve Perry’s Capital Prep in Hartford, CT and White Pines Middle School in Ely, NV. From these environments, Principal Crochet gained inspiration for how to persistently pursue goals with students. 

“I really enjoy having conversations with students and helping them solve problems that are getting in the way of their learning. Being in a position to help students and teachers makes it a very, very rewarding job.”

— Principal Corey Crochet, Labadieville Middle School

What Principal Crochet most enjoys about being a principal is witnessing a student’s growth during their four years at LMS. His personal motto, emblazoned on the school website is, “Every student. Every day. Whatever it takes.” And that is exactly the approach Corey takes in steering LMS to new heights.



A Beaming Foundation

In addition to visiting schools in other states, Crochet stays connected with mentors in his own community. Every Wednesday morning, he has coffee with his former principal, who retired while Crochet was in the fourth grade.


When progress runs stale at Labadieville, getting perspective from principals who have been there helps Corey stay positive and focused. 

“One thing [my mentor] tells me is that sometimes you have to imagine progress is being made just to keep moving forward.”

— Principal Corey Crochet, Labadieville Middle School

The students, of course, are another source of inspiration for Principal Crochet. “There are a few scenarios where they go above and beyond and do things that really stand out.” One of the proudest moments of his time at Labadieville came last year, during the final game of the Hornets’ football season. The other team had a player with spina bifida, and they put him in to play quarterback. Without prompting, the LMS Hornets surrounded the kid to congratulate him after his play.  

When students exhibit their potential in thoughtful ways such as these, it makes being a principal well worth the effort. The teacher who nominated Principal Crochet for this award wrote to us about Corey’s winter hours:

“Mr. Crochet worked very hard to improve the School Improvement Score. He worked through the Christmas holidays, and was at school when it was closed due to extreme cold weather, all to change our students’ enhancement classes and curriculum. While the students did show growth, we missed the score we needed by just a few points. Not to be discouraged, Mr. Crochet congratulated the students and teachers on their efforts, and back to the drawing board he went.”


–Cathy Martinez, teacher at Labadieville Middle School

The most compelling way for adults to reach students is to demonstrate that they have also been students (and still are). Principal Crochet is a regular presence in the classrooms at his school, as he strives to make LMS more student-centric. “Being in those classrooms is a huge part of knowing what’s going on in your school.” 

While technology facilitates ongoing communication between teachers and school leadership, nothing can compare to real time in the classroom. Principal Crochet believes that ed tech can be assistive, but never a substitute for human interaction. “But it does have its place,” he declares. “When it comes to technology, we’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

Through a certain lens, the principal’s task can be daunting. But from the perspective of a student in Corey’s very first class — pipefitting on a construction site — it’s not hard to imagine the talent in front of you thriving in another, unknowable context.


Recap: What Makes a Star School Leader?

Great school leaders empower their teachers. What teachers do is one of the most difficult, and often thankless jobs. And while we all agree that teachers are the true heroes of every school system, it takes a special kind of leader to enable their teachers with the right support to focus on the important things. Like teaching.

The Star School Leader rubric stands on three pillars, hanging from one common theme:

  1.  Empowering others by setting a positive attitude, culture, and environment.
  2.  Empowering others with the right use of technology as a means and not an end.
  3.  Empowering others through supportive coaching and access to professional development.

To read about the rest of the Star School Leaders, visit our recipient announcement page.