LOWELL — Linda (Gorman) Trouville sits in the principal’s office at St. Louis de France School. Over the desk is a crucifix. On another wall is an icon of St. Louis de France and a Blessing for a Principal. In the classroom next door, the teacher and students are engaged in a discussion about Christ’s Passion.
Trouville, a Dracut native, is in her “retirement” years, and she loves it. After 40 years of serving the Dracut public school system as a teacher, vice principal, principal, and curriculum director, she now combines her love of teaching with her love of the Catholic faith.
Her journey as principal of the prekindergarten-through- grade 8 parochial school began in September while still fulfilling her contract to the Dracut public schools. Today, all of her energies are devoted to St. Louis.
Trouville cherished her years in Dracut, she said, and now welcomes the opportunity to make a difference in a Catholic educational environment. While fielding a couple of phone calls from prospective parents for the upcoming school year, Trouville took a break to discuss all things St. Louis.
Q: If someone told you a year ago while you were on the search committee for a new St. Louis principal that you’d observe Holy Week 2011 as principal yourself, would you have believed it?
A: No. A year ago I had a job and I thoroughly enjoyed that job. I devoted 40 years of my life to Dracut and I wouldn’t have stayed if I hadn’t enjoyed it. But through numerous interviews, we couldn’t find the right fit (for principal). Fr. Marc (bishop, pastor of St. Rita in Lowell and St. Marguerite D’Youville in Dracut) placed his hands on mine and told me that we need you to go and pray over the weekend about accepting the offer as principal. The plan was unfolding and I couldn’t stop it.
Q: How has combining your love of faith and your love of education enriched your life?
A: Because I can now use my faith, my stress level totally leaves me. There’s a peace, a calmness. I like to go into a classroom and see how faith fits into our expectations here. I find myself talking about God, and I can do that all day long. I can even say Jesus and Christmas and that’s OK.
Q: What experiences from the Dracut school system are you able to draw upon to enrich St. Louis?
A: Having been a teacher, vice principal, principal and in central administration in Dracut, I have an appreciation for the various levels of education. I can use all of that experience here at St. Louis. Also, some of the testing that has been used in Dracut is used here, such as the Stanfords. I have found that so much of my experience from Dracut is packaged up nicely to use right here.
Q: Do you enjoy once again being involved full time in the day-to-day interaction with students?
A: My favorite part of the day is when we open the doors at 7:25 and my little cherubs get out of their cars and run over for their morning hug. I get as nurtured by that as they get nurtured by the hug that I give them. The parents will pull over and talk to me, and I get to know them. I’ll give a compliment to a student on her new headband or another on a new pair of shoes — just a nice word that stays with them for the day. Another favorite is walking into a classroom, and the students stand up and say, “Good morning, Dr. Trouville.” They stand until I tell them to sit down. The level of respect is amazing.
Q: What are your plans for St. Louis School?
A: I have a vision of expansion, with increased enrollment, especially our preschool program, an excellent full-day program. We’re working on all the content areas on the education level and religion, and I’d like to expand the foreign-language program to first grade, not just the junior- high level.
We’ll have more parent- educational programs and more of a team approach in the middle school, drawing upon the innate skills of the teachers. We have a lot of new ideas. We’re having a lot of fun here.