Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Tribute to those that Provide Hope for Others

Coach Pat Summitt passed away earlier this morning. She deserves credit for being a pioneer in women's athletics and is considered by many as a national treasure. Yes, she won lots of games...1,098 I think. She also won 8 national championships and countless conference championships. That's great and all but she did so much more than just win.

Pat Summitt is a shining example of someone that made a tremendous difference in the lives of others by instilling in them "hope." I've read lots of books about Coach Summitt. I've seen every documentary ever made about her. She's a hero, plain and simple. I can make an extremely convincing argument that she's the greatest coach of all-time in any sport, any era, regardless of gender.

I so admire those that provide "hope" to others. Coach Summitt coached at Tennessee for over 40 years. She began by making $250 per month and was in charge of doing her team's laundry. She didn't care. She was 22 years old and just wanted to lead. And lead she did!

During her reign, she was a driving force for helping female sports get the support and recognition they deserve. The WNBA is celebrating its 20th year this season and nobody on the planet was more responsible for getting that league created and established more than Coach Summitt.

Coach Summitt instilled hope into many young student-athletes that hadn't had much hope and direction in their lives until they met her. She helped youngsters create a process that led to positive achievements, sustained success, and hope for a better tomorrow. Pat Summitt got people to believe in themselves and those around them and created a culture of trust, support, and team before self.

Coach Summitt was a teacher and a coach. She is responsible for hundreds of female leaders today that use the leadership principles they learned from her. She gave direction, purpose, and hope to a program and university that had never before had that sense of belonging.

When you think about the best teachers, coaches, and leaders you know...I bet they provide you with confidence and hope as well.

When I think of the amazing teachers and school personnel I've been lucky enough to know and work with, that's exactly what they do. They provide structure and hope for a better tomorrow in so many kids that need it now more than ever. Every unsuccessful person on the earth today is simply just one caring adult away from turning it around. One single person can make another person better. Do you have the courage to stand up like Coach Summitt did and help others? Can you believe in them so they can believe in themselves?

I hope so!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Update from York Public Schools

York Public Schools is having a very productive summer and we hope you are as well. There is always lots to do to wrap up the past school year and feverishly prepare for the coming year.

Some Selected Highlights of our Summer
• Numerous teachers have been working on curriculum alignment, professional development, and/or specialized instructional methods
• Driver’s Education has been in full gear
• Our BOOST and ALL-STARS programs at YES and YMS have been enjoying their six weeks of free academic and enrichment programming that runs daily and is supported by grant funds
• The Free Breakfast and Lunch program at YES has served an average of over 150 meals daily
• Our Enrichment Center will move from behind the 16th Street Car Wash into the old Sports Shop east of the Courthouse in July
• YES is receiving new entry way doors and bathroom flooring
• The district office is working on mandatory state reporting as we wrap up the 2015-16 school year and prepare for 2016-17
• We’re excited about our “Entrepreneurship Academy” that will run from July 11th-16th in conjunction with the York Chamber, YCDC, and Extension Office as students from YPS, Emmanuel-Faith, and St. Joseph’s will learn about entrepreneurism, design products, and sell them at the York Sidewalk Sales on Saturday, July 16th
• The 2016-17 budget is beginning to take shape as we will have opportunities for patrons to come and learn more about our budget on August 8th, August 22nd, and/or September 12th

School Starts Thursday, August 11th

No doubt, we’ll begin to hear over the next few weeks that “school starts too early.” This happens each July as folks begin to realize their summer is winding down. Below are some “school calendar” issues that we always try to address.
• First off, we shoot for 179 days of school for YHS with YMS and YHS having a few less due to different parent-teacher conference formats
• This allows us to provide two “free” snow days for students and staff before we would need to begin adding days back at the end of school in May
• Since we offer so many semester-long courses at YHS, we try to ensure that 1st and 2nd semester are about the same number of days so each course is able to cover the same curriculum regardless of whether or not a student takes it in the fall or spring semester
• We’ve also heard from a lot of students and staff over the years that they truly prefer that 1st semester finals take place by Christmas Break
• We also have heard from lots of families and staff that they prefer Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday being taken off at Thanksgiving and our 3-day Spring Break as well
• Graduation has moved off of Memorial Day weekend, to the delight of many, and has shortened the amount of school day choices we have in May

When you factor in all of these issues, we begin school a little earlier than what we used to. We still have 179 student days like we’ve had for a long, long time; it just looks a little different.

Back to School Celebration and Community Pep Rally
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 16th as we will have our “Back to School Celebration” and Community Pep Rally at East Hill Park. The Celebration will begin at 5:30 with vendors, inflatables, etc. The Pep Rally will begin at 7:30. We will once again involve St. Joseph’s Catholic, Emmanuel Faith-Lutheran, York County Head Start, and all YPS buildings. Any vendors that are interested in attending can contact Mike Lucas at mike.lucas@yorkdukes.org.

Homecoming, Alumni Weekend, and Yorkfest
We are excited to work with the Chamber of Commerce to have YHS Homecoming and Alumni Weekend in conjunction with Yorkfest this September 8th-11th. We will have an “alumni tailgate” dinner at our September 9th YHS Homecoming football game at East Hill Park as well as a halftime recognition. We will also offer school tours for our alumni to see how things have changed. Look for more details to come out in August. Please let any alumni know that this would be a wonderful time to come back and show their “Duke Pride” while taking advantage of all the wonderful Yorkfest activities as well as YHS offerings.

Thankful Reflection

As we begin full throttle preparations for another school year, my 8th here in York, I simply want to sincerely thank all of our students, staff, parents, and patrons for your support of York Public Schools. We are proud of the important work we do and know that we must continue to push hard to get better and better. This community deserves the best!

We’d also like to thank the York News-Times for the tremendous job they do. We are so fortunate to have a newspaper that is committed to excellence. York is an outstanding place full of wonderful people. We feel honored to be a part of it.

Go Dukes!

Mike Lucas

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

145 Years Old and Getting Better with "The Process"

York Public Schools became an official district 145 years ago today on June 14, 1871. We are so proud of our rich tradition. We are so proud of all the York Dukes that have come before us, what they achieved, what they stood for, and what they endured. We feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to build upon our district's many successes and proud tradition.

I believe that our staff and students understand that we work hard to represent our community, our school district, and our alumni in a positive fashion in everything we do. We simply want to make sure that when our time is up that we've left York Public Schools better than it was when we got here.

I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish the past seven years in York. However, we can't be satisfied or lose our sense of urgency and desire to get better in everything we do. We try to compartmentalize each year and they all take on their own identity and life. 2015-16 was awesome but it is over. We have to work harder than ever to make sure 2016-17 is phenomenal. Attention to detail, trust, respect for all, and an insane work ethic will go a long way in determining how high we can go this next school year.

Great leaders like Jimbo Fisher often tell organizations and teams to "focus on the process" and the results will take care of themselves. Too often, we get hung up on success, winning, and failure without worrying enough about the "processes" we go through to prepare to be successful. We can't have a successful 2016-17 budget in July. We have to focus on the budget preparation process this July to ensure that our budget is successful when it counts next fiscal year. We can't win another softball district championship in August. We simply have to prepare to do the little things right so that when it comes time to compete for another championship, we're ready because the process has been put into place. We can't win another speech championship until 2017 so sitting around thinking about it now isn't as important as preparing for it now. Preparation is the key. Being purposeful in what you do as you pursue goals is the key. Defining exactly what it is you want is the place to start. Then, you need to put plans in place to get there.

I guess what I'm trying to say is we all have to enjoy "the journey" or "the process" and not lose sight of it due to being so focused on the end results or destination. Enjoy the ride. Chunk it down. Do the little things well so the big things will be successful. Be purposeful in your daily planning as that is what adds up each day to put you in position to be successful when the time comes. Win one day at a time. Heck, win one hour at a time. "The Process" precedes positive results. Embrace it.

Go Dukes!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

June 8, 1990

Today is obviously June 8th and that typically makes me take a stroll back down Memory Lane to 1990. You see, I graduated from high school on June 8, 1990. It kind of seems like yesterday in many ways and then it seems like 150 years ago in other ways.

Little did I know on June 8, 1990 that I would marry a girl from Nebraska! There was no way to tell that we would have four children and that I would end up a school administrator!

Life is funny. The twists and turns and zigs and zags that you take and don't take all add up and play a huge part in where you're at today, who you're with, and what your future looks like.

Agreeing to play football out of state in Atchison, Kansas at Benedictine College was the first major decision that impacted my future. I didn't know then but I would never ever live in my beloved Florida again once I reported for 3-a-days in August 1990.

Meeting Liesl Dean from Omaha, Nebraska in the Benedictine Library was the next twist of fate. You see, she had a work study assignment in the college library and I wasn't exactly the smartest guy on campus. I was scurrying one night to try and type up a paper for a class when I asked her to help me with the computer. After I summoned her over, I confessed to her that I didn't know how to turn the computer on. She thought I was kidding. Sadly, I was not. It took me a lot longer to get to know her better and garner the courage to ask her out but that happened in 1991 and that was all she wrote....I was whipped and still am today.

I began my college career as an accounting major but was never able to fully grasp "debits" and "credits." My accounting professor, who was a huge football fan, told me he saw me as more of an educator than an accountant. He told me to go talk to Olive Burns in the Education Dept and my life took another turn. She talked me into becoming an elementary education major. I loved it. The four years I spent as a 3rd grade teacher and football and basketball coach at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas were amazing. I was lucky to be a part of USD #207.

In late May 1995, I had just finished my first year of teaching and was loving life. I had planned to spend the upcoming summer catching fish and playing softball. My wife had other plans. Unbeknownst to me, she had signed me up for "educational leadership" classes at Benedictine College, where they had just started their brand new Masters' Program. I was livid. I couldn't believe she would do that!

I went to class the first day with a horrible attitude. I couldn't stand school principals. No way in the world did I want to become one! I really disliked most of the principals and assistant principals I had in middle school and high school and wanted no part of that world. This was not going to be fun!

As luck would have it, my professor for the first leadership class I ever took was a pretty dynamic guy by the name of Dr. Steve Joel, who is now superintendent of schools in Lincoln, Nebraska. Steve had been superintendent of schools in Troy, Kansas and had made connections with Benedictine to teach for them. By lunchtime on day #1, I was hooked and wanted nothing more than to become a school leader. Talk about a complete 180 degree turnaround in just four hours! Ironically, I now teach that same class at Benedictine as Steve turned it over to me several years ago.

Now, I've just finished my 18th year of school leadership and have 13-15 more to go. Who would have ever thought? I hope to be in York for another five years or more. Opportunities have been there to leave but we've had no desire to quit being a Duke. This is a special place with tremendous people. Sometimes, doing "nothing" is more important than doing "something."

It all began on June 8, 1990 with a handshake and receiving of my high school diploma. Then, the wheels of motion took over and it's been a great ride so far with hopefully many more chapters to come!

Had I transferred from Benedictine to Troy State in December 1990 like I wanted to, no telling what could have happened. Had I not visited with Olive Burns about becoming an education major, who knows where I would be today. Had Liesl and I never dated, would I have ended up back in Florida? Would I have had a wife that pushed me and supported me as much as she did/has? Had Steve Joel not taught that first class, would I have been so enthusiastic about becoming a school administrator? Had we left York by now, would I love my job as much as I do now?

Zigs and zags, twists and turns, and forks in the road all add up and make us who we are today. Enjoy the journey!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer, Summer, Summer

Summer is a very busy time for York Public Schools.

We have 75+ elementary students involved in our Summer BOOST Program, which extends the school day and school year through a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. We are serving FREE breakfasts and lunches for 1-18 year olds each week day through July 8th out of YES and are averaging over 165 student meals daily so far. We have credit recovery summer school going on the month of June at the Enrichment Center for high school students that need to earn credits.

In addition, we're also cranking up our Driver's Education programming. We also offer a wide array of athletic camps for youth, with basketball and wrestling clinics going on right now. On Monday, June 6th, Cal Williams and Jason Hirschfeld will host a large gathering of ag educators at YHS to discuss the importance of agriculture education in our schools.

Throughout the summer, we have staff from our Family Foundations and Special Education departments that will work with students and families on a very regular basis. Our technology department is again offering "Wired on Wednesdays" professional development offerings for teachers and support staff that want to come in and learn about different technology integration tools and initiatives. Title I teachers offer a summer reading program one day a week all summer.

The weight room opens on Monday and will be visited by over 120 student-athletes daily all summer. June and July are also the months that we get important "summer facility projects" completed. This year, YES will get new entry doors, for example. Concrete work will be done on each campus. YMS will receive some new entry way carpet. YHS will receive new locker room lockers, has had the old wrestling room turned into an organized and clean storage area, clean-up is underway in the CWAC, etc.

Many of our teachers are also working on curriculum updates and instructional strategies. Our school improvement plan is being worked on. The board of education will have a planning retreat with the administrative team and the beat goes on and on and on. We'll be moving our Enrichment Center from behind the North Runza to 522 Grant Avenue where the old "Sports Shop" used to be located.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, we'll also be putting together a budget for 2016-17 that includes a loss in state aid of $1,200,000 and no valuation increase for land within the YPS boundaries.

As you can see, the summer is extremely busy and we need to make sure we get a lot accomplished so the fall and spring can be as efficient and enjoyable as possible.

Our teachers and staff return on August 8th and school begins on August 11th. We'll be ready!