Long-time principal at St. Joseph’s Academy plans to retire _lowres

Linda Harvison

After a decade in charge, the first lay principal of the all-girls St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge is calling it quits.

Linda Fryoux Harvison announced Monday that 2014-15 will be her last year to run the Catholic high school. It will be her 11th year as principal and 32nd as a faculty member at St. Joseph’s.

“I will miss my SJA family but know the time is right to begin the retirement chapter of my life,” Harvison said.

The school hired The Education Group, a national search firm that focuses on finding leaders for independent schools. The search is set to start in a week, with the goal of finding Harvison’s replacement by early 2015.

Harvison informed other school leaders over the summer that this likely was her last year in charge, but she waited until Monday to make the announcement public.

Harvison doesn’t plan to leave the school entirely and is considering working part-time with its Mission Advancement office. Her roots with the school go way back. She graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1966.

“I take great pride in this institution,” Harvison said in her announcement. “We are a leader in technology while preserving the best of our rich traditions. Our young women are offered a strong religious foundation in our Catholic tradition, a superior academic program and a wide range of co-curricular opportunities.”

The girls’ high school has a long history of academic excellence, including winning on three occasions the prestigious Blue Ribbon School of Excellence honor bestowed by the U.S. Department of Education.

A Baton Rouge native, Harvison earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from LSU in 1970, followed in 1985 by a master’s in education, also from LSU. She taught at three schools in Ascension Parish — St. Theresa of Avila, East Ascension Junior High and St. Amant High School — before returning to her alma mater in 1981. In 2004, she was tapped to take over as principal, replacing then principal Sister Judith Brun, in a management shake-up. The school divided the leadership duties between the principal and the newly created position of president.

Jan Breen became president in 2012. A 1969 academy graduate herself, Breen said Harvison will be missed.

“Linda leaves a legacy at St. Joseph’s Academy that is rich in the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph,” she said. “Under Linda’s leadership, young women experienced her compassion, generosity and faith in God. She truly lives the Sisters’ call to ‘serve the dear neighbor’ and expects no less of our students.”

Harvison has had her share of personal challenges, including a recent bout with stage 2 breast cancer, which she spoke openly about in hopes of being a role model for students. She served as the honorary chairwoman of the 2013 Woman’s Victory Open golf tournament, which supports breast cancer education and outreach.

Linda and Jerry Harvison have been married for 46 years. They have two sons, two daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.