Comeaux school principal tapped to serve as career, technical education director for Lafayette School District _lowres

Comeaux High School Principal Joe Craig

Comeaux High Principal Joe Craig has been named director of Lafayette Parish School System’s career and technical education program, which helps students get a “jump-start” on jobs and college credits.

In the role, Craig also will serve as director of the school system’s popular schools of choice program, which includes more than 20 specialized instructional programs that enable students to pursue their career interests and talents.

Craig replaces Burnell LeJeune, who was tapped as interim superintendent in November.

In his new position, Craig will lead the district’s efforts to align its career and technical education options with the state’s revamped Jump Start diploma initiative. The statewide initiative seeks to provide training that leads to certification and college credit so students can graduate high school ready for the workforce or more easily advance their training and education.

Craig’s last day at Comeaux was Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he started his new job at the central office. On Thursday morning, he said he was reviewing the career paths associated with Jump Start and will soon start working to identify teachers who need training to become certified to teach career and technical courses.

“This summer, the state is offering a training, and we’re working to see who may need training,” LeJeune said. “We want to make sure that high schools have someone who can teach the courses so students can earn the endorsements they need to graduate.”

Craig knows firsthand the need to continue one’s education to change careers. He became a science teacher at Paul Breaux Middle in 1990 because of the dry job market following the oil bust in Lafayette.

Though he had a master’s degree in wildlife and fisheries from LSU, he returned to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in education and later, when he decided to pursue a career as an administrator, returned to earn an educational specialist degree in instruction and supervision.

For the past 10 years, Craig has been principal at Comeaux High.

The search for a new principal likely won’t start until after the school year ends.

For now, Assistant Principal Mary Sonnier, who is the acting principal, and three assistants will serve out the rest of the school year, Craig said.

“I know they’ll do a good job,” he said. “My kids go to Comeaux, so I won’t be a stranger.”

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.