LAFAYETTE — Trent Ellis and Trev Faulk, members of the new team joining Northside High School after its reconstitution, or restaffing, are coaching standouts, Lafayette Parish Superintendent Pat Cooper said Wednesday.
Ellis is the school’s new athletic director and track coach while Faulk is the Vikings’ new football coach, replacing Vincent Derouen. Ellis has 14 years of high school coaching experience and also was on coaching staffs at the University of New Orleans and LSU, Cooper said during a news conference.
Last year, Ellis led Donaldsonville’s track team to a state championship. Faulk, a former linebacker in the NFL and at LSU, led Vermilion Catholic through a 13-1 season and the Class 1A semifinal game.
The coaches said their goals extend beyond winning championships.
The NCAA regulations for initial eligibility for college-bound student athletes take effect for this year’s high school sophomore class, with students required to have a 2.9 grade-point average, Ellis said.
“My goal is to try to get our athletes’ average across the board to be at a 3.0 and to have their 20 ACT to go up to the next level. That’s my focus for Northside High School,” Ellis said, adding that each student-athlete’s academic performance will be tracked and evaluated daily on an academics and behavior consequence form.
Ellis said Faulk also will implement a 45-minute study hall prior to his team’s practices, and that initiative will likely be implemented for all athletes.
Faulk, an assistant at Northside before taking the job at Vermilion Catholic last year, said he met with his players Wednesday morning, and the decision to leave his job was a difficult one.
“I feel like my purpose in life is to try to help young men become better men to become positive men and to be a positive example for them,” Faulk said. “My decision came down to I felt like there was a greater need for what I could do at Northside than there was at Vermilion Catholic so my heart was pulled here.”
The parish School Board approved the restaffing measure on June 6 as a way to improve the lowest-performing high school in the district, with a graduation rate of 59 percent and a state accountability score of 67.7. As part of the restaffing, employees were required to reapply for their jobs.
In the process, 22 teachers and four paraprofessionals or teacher assistants were displaced, meaning while they lost their positions at Northside, they’re still employed by the district and will fill vacant positions.
Of the total 65 employees who were required to reapply for their jobs, six chose not to reapply and either were displaced or retired, said Northside Principal Melinda Voorhies, whose administrative and support team started in February as part of a $2 million turnaround plan that also involved facilities.
Also during the news conference, Cooper alluded to news coverage of the reconstitution and negative reaction by some in the community to some staffing changes.
“I am very anxious to get Northside off the front page of the paper,” Cooper said. “This may be our last gasp with you folks, we hope. We are, as you know, in a period of reconstitution of Northside High School and it has caused a lot of eyebrows to be raised and it’s caused a lot of concern, but if all of us can keep our eye on the ball — and that’s the children, then I think we can all get through this.”
Board member Tehmi Chassion, whose district includes Northside, attended the event but did not join board President Shelton Cobb and board member Kermit Bouillion at a table with Cooper.
After the event, Chassion said while he still supports the reconstitution, he was surprised and disappointed at some decisions that were made related to staffing, such as the displacement of Derouen.
Chassion characterized Faulk’s hiring as “bittersweet” because he said he believes Derouen did a good job but that he also personally knows and respects Faulk.
“The kids at Northside are getting a world-class coach and an even better person,” Chassion said of Faulk. “There could not be a better choice for a coach than this guy.”
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved