Tuesday, October 27, 2015


My blog this week is centered around a poem I found by Leo Thomas. It is about "letting go." To me, it is about letting go of a comfort zone, being brave enough to try new things, and to attack a new challenge. Change is always hard for all of us. I've found that the best parents, the best teachers, the best leaders have all been able to embrace change as necessary while also sticking to and not compromising on their core principles.

We are all faced with new challenges and opportunities. As the last few lines of this poem say, "when the time comes for you to change again, listen to your heart, for then, you will surely know..."

We all make conscious decisions on a daily basis about "this" or "that" decision, about this opportunity, or that circumstance. Listen to your heart, make a decision, and LET IT GO.

Letting Go...
You know it's time to grow,
When you feel as though,
You've been living isolated, as in a silo.
You'll feel it in your heart,
You'll no longer want to play the part
That you already know.
That's when it's time
To stretch your feelings and your mind
By letting go of what you know.
Change, at first, might feel strange,
But now's the time to reach for the unknown.
We fear new heights but, most of all,
We fear the possibility that we might fall.
But only by letting go can we ever be exposed,
To all the new things that we need to grow,
Even though, it might seem scary
At the time, to do so.
So worry not, dear friend.
When the time comes for you to change again,
Listen to your heart, for then,
You will surely know...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Through the Years.....

This 2015-16 school year is my 22nd year in public education. My first four years were spent as a 3rd grade teacher and high school football and basketball coach at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They were four amazing years that I wouldn't trade for anything. I still think about the students I taught and coached and so many of the fun things we worked on together. Fort Leavenworth was an awesome place to teach and coach. We had all of the resources and support you could ever want or need. I was fortunate to teach and coach there.

In June of 1998, I left "The Fort" to begin my career in school administration. I was a 25-year old kid that was charged with leading Bartlett Grade School, a K-8 school in southeast Kansas of about 160 students. It was a wonderful place to begin my leadership career. Though I was only there for the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 school years, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do as a school leader. We lived in Parsons, KS and that was a little too far from Omaha than my wife wanted so in June 2000, we left for West Point, Nebraska to be closer to my wife's family in Omaha.

We spent three great years in West Point as K-6 principal. We were there on September 11, 2001, which I will never forget. We made lots of friends that we still stay in touch with today. It was a tough decision to leave West Point but I wanted to become a superintendent and that bug bit me really hard in the winter of 2003. That January, we received offers to become the next superintendent at Shelby and Kenesaw but my wife didn't want to accept either position. My attention then turned to an assistant superintendent position in Ralston. I had always wanted to be in "the metro" and see what it was like to work there. We made it to the final two but I was not offered the position. I was devastated for a few days but was then re-charged and ready to continue our important work at West Point Elementary.

That March, I received a phone call that Franklin, NE was looking for a superintendent. I wasn't excited about going back through the process of applying, etc. Wilber-Clatonia also opened up. After a few days, I was talked into applying for both. In early April, I interviewed at Wilber-Clatonia on a Wednesday and Franklin on a Thursday. We were fortunate to get the job offer from Franklin that Thursday night and it was a sleepless night for Liesl and I trying to decide what to do.

That Friday, we accepted the position and before I knew it, I was a 30-year old kid superintendent that really had no idea what I was supposed to do! We served in Franklin from 2003-2009 as superintendent but also spent some time as a high school principal, basketball coach, and cheer sponsor. It was a great ride. We have many fond memories of our time as a Franklin Flyer. We met lots of outstanding people and I was fortunate enough to work with some great educators and students as well. I still miss the Franklin Country Club, Rightway Grocery, and the volunteer run theater where Jeb, Bo, and I would go every Sunday with a $10 bill and come home with change!

In the fall of 2008, things got crazy with Class B superintendent openings. McCook, Waverly, York, and others opened up and Liesl and I began to think about taking the "next step." We applied at Waverly and York with the York deadline and timeline ending before Waverly interviewed. We were lucky enough to get the York job offer on a Friday night in mid-January and we've never looked back.

We came to York in June 2009 with Taylor heading into 11th grade, Micah into 9th, Jeb into 3rd, and Bo into 1st. The first year here was a real blur. There was lots and lots to do and many people to connect with. YPS offered us numerous challenges and plenty of rewards as well. We've made connections with so many wonderful people in/around York. This is a great place. York offers plenty of challenges but it also provides the resources and support to overcome those challenges.

It's funny to sit back and look back "through the years." A 'zig' instead of a 'zag' here or there and things would've turned out way different. Timing is everything. Circumstances are unique. Fate is inevitable.

I've loved every stop along the way of this educational journey. My time as a MacArthur Elementary Eagle and Patton Tiger at "The Fort" was outstanding. I have many fond memories of being a Bartlett Brave and a West Point Cub Cadet as well. Being a Franklin Flyer taught me how important community involvement is for school leaders. I cherish being a York Duke and love that "Duke Pride" that runs through my veins.

It's been a great ride so far. I hope the remaining 17 years I have are just as rewarding!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Land for Sale - Land for Sale

York Public Schools is seeking sealed bids for the 24.95 acre tract of non-irrigated farm ground physically located east of York Middle School on the east side of Maine Avenue in York, Nebraska.

Parcel ID# - 930194527
Legal Description – Lot 2 BLK 1 & Lot 2 BLK 2 York Public Schools ADD City of York
Map # - 3295-00-0-10881-002-0001

• According to the Soil Map, the entire area is comprised of Hastings Silt Loam, 0-1 percent slope.
• The sale of the property is subject to an existing lease agreement which expires on March 1, 2016.

Sealed bids will be accepted through 4:00 PM CST on Tuesday, December 1st. No bids under $190,000 will be considered. Bids can be mailed or dropped off to:
Mike Lucas – Superintendent
York Public Schools
1715 N. Delaware Avenue
York, NE 68467

The School Board shall have the right to refuse any and all bids for the property. Upon the Board’s acceptance of any bid, the successful bidder will be required to enter into a Purchase Agreement for the purchase of the above-described property on the terms and conditions described therein and at the Board’s discretion.

The Purchase Agreement may provide: (1) that the School District and the Buyer will each pay one-half of the cost of an owner’s title insurance policy which shall show marketable title in the School subject only to easements and restrictions of record and subject to building and use restrictions of the City, County and the State of Nebraska; (2) that the School Board will provide the Buyer a Warranty Deed to the premises; (3) that no real estate taxes for 2014 or any prior year are owed on the subject property; (4) the property has been classified as exempt with regard to 2015 real estate taxes, (5) that ten percent (10%) of the purchase price will be payable immediately upon signing of the Purchase Agreement; and (6) the balance of the purchase price will be paid in full at the closing which shall occur at the School District Office on a date and time to be determined by the parties to the Agreement.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"When You Get to the Fork in the Road...Take It"

Baseball legend Yogi Berra passed away recently. He was adored for his affable personality, how well he treated others, and crazy one-liners. Many "Yogi-isms" will live on for years and years. My favorite from Yogi is, "When you get to the fork in the road, take it."

We all find ourselves at a "fork in the road" from time to time. Do we go "left" and do "this?" or do we go "right" and do "that?" I've always tried to analyze the perceived pros and cons of all big decisions, think about the impact on those affected by the decision, do what I think is best at the time, and never look back. It's the "never looking back" part that is sometimes hard but I have found to be most necessary.

Big decisions often result in a change but sometimes they result in things staying the same too. After my 4th year as superintendent/principal in Franklin, Nebraska there was a job that opened up that I really wanted to pursue. I thought the location and size of the community would've been perfect. I researched it for a few days, made some calls, and was convinced I needed to be "all in" trying to become their next superintendent. I ran it by my wife and she simply said, "no - now is not the time." I was stunned but respected her thoughts. I shut it down and never looked back and didn't think about it again. The "big decision" made was to do nothing...to stay...and it worked out well as two years later my wife said it was time and we made the move to York, which we love.

Numerous big decisions come at us from all angles. Making big decisions is a primary duty of the superintendent. Most often the decisions that need to be made are professional. Sometimes they are personal. My best advice is to simply analyze the situation carefully, study the potential impact, make the best decision you can at the time, and move on. Don't look back and second-guess. Once you make a decision, you stick with it.

The world is full of "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" that can tell you that you made the wrong decision after the fact. It's easy to bat 1.000 after the fact. It takes guts to make big decisions before you know how they're going to play out. That's leadership. That's life.