NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Dr. RaeNell Houston has always wanted to be a teacher, but she recently stepped into a much larger position - Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
By this summer, Houston will be responsible for over 37,000 students, but there’s another reason she will have her name written in history.
No other person of color has ever held her position.
"I'm still wrapping my mind around that, to be named the first African American Superintendent of the Archdiocese of New Orleans,” Houston said. “I feel so blessed to be where I am today."
Part of Houston’s responsibilities will include improving enrollment decline, diversity, and school choice programs.
"When I think diversity, I think, of course, race, religion, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, everything,” she said. “There's so much diversity out there."
Another effort that is close to Houston’s heart is improving the Archdiocese’s special needs initiative.
"I have a 9-year-old daughter who has Down Syndrome,” she said. “I want her to have every opportunity to be successful in Catholic school."
Houston said she draws support from her three daughters and her husband, while her heroes are her mother and father and every encouraging educator she's crossed paths with over the years.
While her dreams have led her through an impressive assortment of positions throughout the state, from elementary school to the university level, Houston says all of her success can be seen in magic of God's fingerprints over her life.
"You can achieve whatever you dream,” she said. “Who would have thought a girl from Boothville-Venice who came from very humble beginnings would be where she is today?"