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San Clemente Journal

Academics and Ocean Views Concordia Welcomes New Principal

Aug 18, 2014 10:20AM ● By Ce Ce Darakjian

Sharing his office with the “Principal of the day.”

by CeCe Darakjian

Concordia Elementary School in South San Clemente occupies one of the most unique locations in all of Orange County if not the state of California. Perched on the bluffs above the Pacific ocean, Concordia is surrounded by ocean view mansions on one side, the San Clemente State Park campground on the other, with working class apartments completing the perimeter. 
It is the kind of school where students ride their skateboards to class so they can be at the beach within minutes of the dismissal bell, and where teachers drive to work in their golf carts so they can be on the links before dusk.

There’s a reason that Concordia has produced a number of professional surfers and famous big wave riders. There is a distinct aura of “laid back beach-vibe” around the 50- year-old campus that just can’t be changed regardless of how many “Common Core” standards the state applies. Just don’t be too fooled by that “laid back” vibe. 

This school is an active academic learning center working hard to prepare our kids for the future. Boasting such unique programs as the “Butterfly Habitat Teaching Garden” and “Splash the Whale” fossil excavation site, Concordia has been recognized as a California Distinguished School and prides itself as a Professional Learning Community of dedicated individuals who are committed to providing a quality educational program while promoting the welfare of children. And leading that community is Concordia’s first-year principal Paul Foucart.

Paul had big shoes to fill upon the retirement of long-time principal Dave Gerhard, but he felt more than up to the challenge. Having graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a major in Communications and a minor in Journalism, he received his Master’s in Education in Elementary Education and taught in Massachusetts for nine years in grades two through five. After working as a Principal for quite a few years Paul eventually moved to a District Office position working as the  Director of Instructional Technology and Curriculum. Although he was very interested in technology and its role in the classroom, he really missed working with students on a daily basis, so he was more than excited when he was offered the role of principal at Concordia.
Paul describes his role of principal as an Instructional Leader. “With the new Common Core Standards and the goal of 21st century teaching and learning, it is the role of the principal to prepare students for college and career readiness. Even though we are a K-5 school, it is our job to prepare students for a global society where students thrive and feel successful in a competitive society. Also, our role is to see that children come first and that they feel safe in a school environment and that students want to come to school to learn, thrive, and have fun in an educational setting,” he explained. 

Although Paul is quite serious about his role as principal he has a humorous and fun loving side that has really helped him earn his way into the hearts of both the students and parents of Concordia. He has a love of musical theater and has played major roles in many plays throughout his career. Students his never ending collection of humorous ties and they can’t wait to hear their Principal burst into song at the morning flag salute. But as much as he loves being a Principal or acting in a play he admits that his greatest role has been being a dad to his two wonderful children.

“It is the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life!” Paul enthuses.
As an East Coaster Paul may have had a bit of a culture shock the first time he stepped onto the Concordia campus, but it didn’t take him long for him to get used to the “Concordia vibe”. According to Paul, “Concordia is a community driven school, with a wonderful parent community and the students are so polite and friendly. This is the first school I’ve worked at where the students are so polite, which is reflective of their parents and families. cannot beat the location! HA!” 

As the school continues its over 50-year tradition of academics and ocean views, Paul Foucart considers himself lucky to have come to be a part of it all.