When the students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help attend the first day of classes on Tuesday they will find themselves under the guidance of new Principal Paul Jette.
Jette, who is originally from New Bedford, Mass., comes to the school with decades of experience as an administrator in private schools, mostly in New England.
Jette was educated at Keene State College and majored in education with a minor in sports medicine. For 20 years he was a certified athletic trainer. He then became the athletic director at a private school in Massachusetts. He moved up to Assistant Headmaster and Dean of Students in the early 1990s, beginning his focus on administration.
Jette was going to ease into retirement once he and his wife moved south, he said during a Monday interview in his office. “But, I found out retirement wasn’t for me.”
Jette said he got an email from George Valadie the President of Notre Dame High School alerting him to the fact that there was an opening for the principal’s position at OLPH. Jette said he didn’t think he had a chance because he is a man of a certain age.
This is Jette’s second stint in Tennessee, he said. In the early 2000’s he was recruited by Bachman Academy as its principal. He said he served there for eight years until he and the school parted ways when the school shifted away from its Christian focus.
The Jettes moved back to New England, this time Burlington, Vermont. When his wife was offered a position as a 5th grade math teacher in the Sequatchie County school system, the Jettes returned to the South.
Jette said his guiding principal is “kids come first.”
He’s not a fan of “participation trophies” and said our culture where kids are not allowed to fail at anything is doing youth a disservice.
“Some of the greatest people in the world have failed,” he said. “Lincoln failed at being a senator and then he became one of the greatest presidents we’ve had.
“Einstein failed,” he continued. “Colonel Sanders’ chicken recipe was rejected more than 1,000 times.
“Failure is OK as long as we learn, move on, and grow.”
Jette said he has no idea how long his tenure may be at OLPH, but he is certain that he wants to accomplish one thing in his time at the school.
“My goal is to let people in the greater Chattanooga area understand what a great little jewel this school is,” he said.