Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 1995

S TOP PRINCIPAL

July 11, 1995

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Lawrence High School is home to the state's No. 1 principal.

Government teacher Jane Budde reads the aging adhesive note in her grade book whenever a week isn't going so well.

"I appreciate you," it says.

The note came from her principal, who affixed it to her mail box in one of those particularly bad weeks. The note is one reason why Budde is a big fan of Brad Tate.

"It's probably two years old, and I still have it in my notebook," she said. "I told him I needed another one."

She's ecstatic that Tate, principal at Lawrence High School, is the Kansas Secondary Principal of the Year. The Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals will formally present the award to Tate on Nov. 5, and he will be considered for the Met-Life national Principal of the Year Award.

After 22 years at LHS, Tate said he bled red and black, the colors of the Chesty Lions.

"It's the greatest job in the world," he said today. "The best thing in Lawrence, in my mind, are the kids here, and that makes my job the best."

Sometimes the job has its headaches. Renovation work claimed the library and gave the school a look last fall that students described as "Sarajevo High."

Tate gathered the staff just before the year began, assistant principal Trish Bransky recalled. The staff couldn't even meet at LHS. Construction sent them to the Kansas Union.

He showed a scene from the movie Dead Poet's Society, the camera panning from a field to a hallway filling with activity and teachers preparing to start school. He wanted to focus their attention on the teachers, to show them that the faculty, not the facility, reached the students.

The meeting set the tone for the year, Bransky said.

"There are obstacles. Here they are. We're going to beat them," she said.

Bransky is now the principal at Southwest Junior High School, which will open this fall. She said Tate had served as a mentor for her and others who have moved on to district administrative positions.

Tate said a principal's job had evolved since he began at LHS in 1973. He can trust his staff to make sound decisions, and involving parents and students has become vital. He might have a vision for how to change the school, but he runs it by those it will affect.

"You spend a lot more time getting there, but it's worth it," he said.

A vision for a new high school schedule will become reality in 1995-96 after two years of planning with teachers. The schedule includes six periods and a special 85-minute "seminar period" twice a week, when students can receive individual tutoring or pursue independent projects.

Tate is looking forward to the challenge.

"I tell you," he said, "we have a great program, and we want to make sure it stays that way."

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