Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

Lynn leaves De Soto High School with goals achieved

June 17, 2004

Speaking at the De Soto Chamber of Commerce meeting last Thursday, Debbie Lynn fought back tears to say her life was entering a new season with her husband's acceptance of a job with an engineering firm in the couple's home state of Texas. Many in the De Soto community likely greeted the news of her resignation as principal of De Soto High School with the sadness Lynn expressed.

By all appearances, Lynn was a principal few of her "kiddos" would want as adversary and would most welcome as a friend. She certainly tried to be an educator to them all. Two years ago, having graduated two national merit scholars -- something unheard of for a school of De Soto High School's size -- Lynn spoke of her pride in graduating a number of at-risk students. She and her faculty couldn't take credit for the gifted students, she said, but the success of troubled or challenged students was an accomplishment that all in the school could share.

She wanted and worked for the best for all her students, whether it was advanced class opportunities for the college bound or additional vocational educational classes for those seeking a different career path.

Lynn took over at De Soto High School the year the district opened a second high school in west Shawnee. She spoke then of the opportunity to make her school a community high school once again. Lynn was certainly successful in that in large part because her direct, down-to-earth ways were a perfect match for a community with few airs. As she hoped, high school students were fixtures in De Soto's life, from community service to performances.

In her first year, the school led by the competitive Lynn had to cope with struggles in athletics, where a school and community's worth are often mistakenly judged.

Through Lynn's leadership, the student body managed to sustain and even build school spirit that earned the admiration of foes. Coaches new to her tenure turned the athletic programs around while other instructors, new and old, kept programs such as band and vocal music at established levels of excellence.

To an extent, the era Lynn spoke of on becoming principal is ending with her departure. The district's new secondary school boundaries will start placing Shawnee students at the school next fall. The impending growth of Lenexa will add more new faces to the school's halls and classrooms.

Still, the community has a number of unique educational challenges that require and demand top-notch leadership in its schools. Lynn's departure, coupled with that of associate principal Tony Collins, has sparked perhaps unavoidable rumors and finger-pointing. It can not be doubted Lynn was a forceful and demanding advocate for her school and positions. But without any evidence to the contrary, it also can be assumed the district's administration is secure enough to welcome such a voice.

At this time, it appears an interim principal is an unwelcome necessity in a process that can only be hoped will find another principal of Lynn's qualities.

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