Having taught at South Junior High School since it opened in 1969, Margaret Akins said it might have been easy for her to suffer burnout.
However, Akins said, ever since Randy Weseman's arrival as the school's principal in 1990, she hasn't had to worry about that.
"Since he's been here, I wake up in the morning and I look forward to coming to school every day, and I really attribute the difference to him," Akins said.
Others must enjoy working with Weseman as well, because Weseman has been named the 1992-93 recipient of the Lawrence Schools Foundation's Educator of the Year Award. The second annual award was to be presented to Weseman today at the district's annual recognition reception.
"Randy Weseman is in my mind the epitome of an educator," said Lawrence School Board Vice President John Tacha. "He's got tremendous enthusiasm. He's got tremendous love for kids, and he's an innovator."
Tacha noted that Weseman this year allowed some teachers to try out interdisciplinary teaming, which allows teachers of different subjects to coordinate their lessons and to discuss the needs of individual students.
Tacha said he also appreciated the many opportunities for student involvement at South through such groups as Black Male Brothers and the Kansas Association for Youth.
"He knows that if kids are participating in small groups with a goal in mind, they tend to stay in school and stay positive," Tacha said.
Akins said students and teachers also love Weseman's sense of humor.
"We'll go into the cafeteria one day, and there he is behind the counter wearing a chef's cap and serving the kids," Akins said. "He's an upbeat person. He's fun, but at the same time he's all business. It's not always easy to balance those two."
South ninth-grader J.D. Loudabarger said he doesn't know of any student who doesn't like Weseman.
"He has no enemies. There's not one person I've ever heard talk bad about Mr. Weseman," Loudabarger said. "He tries to help you if you have a problem, and I think that's the biggest thing."
Weseman said his leadership style is pretty simple.
"I always put people first," he said. "I always take care of my students and staff and their educational needs before anything else.
"I always tell people that the only thing we have in this business is people. It's intense human interaction, and my job is to try to bring out the best in staff and parents and students."
Weseman joined the Lawrence school district in 1977. He taught social studies at the Lawrence Alternative High School and then at Central Junior High School before becoming assistant principal at West Junior High School in 1985. He then went to South in 1990.
Weseman, 43, was selected as the Educator of the Year from nominees submitted by teachers, parents and students. The award comes with a $1,000 stipend provided by funds raised from the Foundation Follies, a staff talent show and fund-raiser for the Lawrence Schools Foundation.
For three years in a row, Weseman has performed in the Foundation Follies with his rock and roll group, Randy and the Detentions. Weseman said he didn't think that had anything to do with his selection for the award.
"It's a wonder it didn't work against me," Weseman said.