Monday, January 21, 2013
Frisco ISD welcomes new superintendent Jeremy Lyon
Lyon considers the position one of the few elite jobs in both state and national public education.
FRISCO When new Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon talks about his new school district, there's one word he frequently uses to describe the job it's done educating students: extraordinary.
Lyon, who was the superintendent of Hays Consolidated ISD in Central Texas when longtime Frisco ISD Superintendent Rick Reedy announced his retirement Sept. 12, calls the district's superintendent position one of the few elite jobs in both state and national public education.
On Nov. 20, Lyon was named the lone superintendent finalist, but because of a state-mandated 21-day waiting period, he wasn't formally offered the position until Dec. 12. He accepted the offer and assumed his responsibilities Jan. 7.
"From a statewide perspective, the Frisco ISD story is about incredible fast growth coupled with incredible partnerships," Lyon said. "People in education are in awe of how Frisco has been able to successfully manage just the sheer student population growth and have a district rated exemplary by the Texas Education Agency with more than 42,000 students -- it's the largest exemplary district in the state of Texas."
One particular area Lyon said he was impressed with prior to coming to the district was the fact that the district is capable of receiving 2,000 to 3,500 new students every year while still maintaining high test scores and other measures of student performance.
Since assuming his new position, Lyon's been busy visiting schools and familiarizing himself with the area.
"I've visited five campuses so far, and this afternoon I'll be visiting my sixth," he said Wednesday morning. "What I've seen is a very clear, high expectation for student performance -- the bar is very high for academic performance. This is a school district that really gets it and really understands that the teacher in the classroom is where resources need to be focused."
In addition to visiting schools and meeting students and teachers, Lyon's also met with city officials and plans for a meeting between the Frisco City Council and the school board later this spring.
One of the unique aspects of Frisco ISD, Lyon said, is the fact that such meetings are possible despite the city's size. The city and school district work closely together, which he called the "gold standard" of such partnerships.
"The big-vision, big-picture environment is something that I'm good at and I like being in. It's exciting to be able to plan facilities and educational programs and services from the floor up," Lyon said. "It's very rare that school districts get to do that to the degree Frisco has -- it's exciting. The city partnerships are exactly what a city-school district partnership should look like. All the projects the city, school district and other private partners have entered into for the complete benefit of the students here is extraordinary; it's like none other."
One of those partnerships led to the creation of FC Dallas Stadium, which Lyon visited Jan. 5 for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game. He cited the stadium as an example of the high-quality facilities partnerships have brought to the school district.
The school district's Career and Technical Education Center also impressed Lyon when he visited it for a lunch meeting with high school students taking culinary classes.
Those classes, along with the other unique offerings provided at the center, are important to public education, Lyon said, as they help prepare students for "whatever venture they choose in life" and supplement basic academic courses.
"We have students who are becoming accomplished musicians, actors, singers, chefs -- it's amazing," he said. "The quality of education that's happening here right in the midst of fast growth is a real credit to the leadership of the school board and the city. You don't get that unless you've got good leadership at the top, and that's what you've had in Frisco -- good leadership from the City Council, board of trustees, city manager and superintendent. You have people with a common vision who are actualizing that vision."
Lyon has also had phone conversations with Reedy, although his first time he sat down with the former superintendent since moving to Frisco was Thursday.
"Dr. Reedy will be a mentor to me in the coming year and has gone out of his way in generosity of helping me make this transition," Lyon said. "His legacy here is so deep and so strong that it is my No. 1 goal to honor that legacy and to carry on that success with our board of trustees as we move forward."
Though Lyon wants to honor Reedy's legacy, he said the school board and other district officials he's met with have encouraged him not to be the next Rick Reedy and instead just be himself.
"I have to bring my own leadership style to Frisco ISD, and our staff and educators understand that and have been very generous in welcoming me and my wife to the district," he said. "I have a huge support team behind me that will help all of us move forward as a district. To be able to transition with Dr. Reedy is a tremendous honor. While it brings some pressure, I feel good that I've got this huge team behind me."
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