Guillot sees bright future for right-sized De La Salle

Michael E. Guillot, who has spent his professional career as a teacher and administrator in Catholic schools and as a development, leadership and fund-raising consultant for nonprofit organizations, has been named the new president of De La Salle High School, effective July 1.

Guillot has served for the last 18 months as assistant headmaster for institutional advancement at Holy Cross School. Principal Peggy St. John introduced Guillot to De La Salle’s 450 students at a student assembly on March 30, and Guillot said he was thrilled to have the new leadership opportunity.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here,” Guillot told the students and faculty. “This is overwhelming. I can’t wait to get started.”

In addition to “listening and learning for the first 90 to 100 days,” Guillot said he had three major tasks to accomplish: assess where De La Salle is “right now,” get input on where the school wants to go and decide “how we get there.”

“The most important thing is not building programs or courses or collecting trophies,” Guillot said. “The most important thing is people. We are the most important asset that De La Salle has – caring about each other and caring about the future. Greatness is not a fixed point. It’s a moving point. Greatness is what De La Salle is and what it’s destined for.”

Knows Lasallian charism

Guillot said he became aware of the Lasallian educational model employed by the Christian Brothers when he was a teacher at Archbishop Rummel High School and later when his sons attended The St. Paul’s School in Covington.

“It is perhaps more relevant than ever in terms of diversity, the commitment to educating the whole person and particularly because De La Salle is in the unique position as a coed institution in the city. It really does offer families an option.”

As president, Guillot will be the external liaison to the business and educational community, which is why he said it will be important for him to learn the personal stories of his students and teachers so that he can tell that “story” to prospective parents and business and educational leaders.

He also said the city’s economic progress, tied to the new biomedical research district, and the effort by the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools to develop a strategic plan, have made this a good time to hit the ground running.

“We’ve got an excellent principal who runs the school and the academic portion, so my role is to develop relationships not just with the (school’s) stakeholders but also with the external community. We’ve got a lot happening in the city over the next five years, and it’s incumbent on the president to be at those places and be part of those conversations.”

Guillot said De La Salle’s status as the major Catholic coed high school in the city of New Orleans is “a real advantage” that needs to be promoted.

Size is an advantage

“For the last 20 years De La Salle has distinctly made that an advantage,” Guillot said. “I also think size is a real advantage. There’s a great deal of research that suggests the ideal size of a high school is around 500 to 600, and De La Salle is right on the cusp of that. You’re not a nameless person where you need to look at the name tag to know that you really have a relationship with someone.”

St. John said she was excited to have Guillot on board because of his abundant “positive energy.”

“He comes with incredibly high qualifications,” St. John said. “Not only does he have the business side of it, but he has been in the classroom. He’s been a teacher and principal. He’s walked in our footsteps. That means a lot to us.”

Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at pfinney@clarionherald.org.

 

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