WAKEFIELD – School Committee members gave Superintendent Doug Lyons positive reviews in their evaluative remarks made publicly at their meeting on Tuesday. Criticisms were qualified as areas needing improvement as opposed to being poorly done.

“You led us incredibly well in a difficult time,” Committee chair Tom Markham told Lyons, referring to pandemic conditions in 2020 and 2021. “You kept your focus on the students, staff and safety, juggling all that through muddy waters. We are lucky to have you and I’m pleased with the vote I took renewing your contract (in September).”

Markham also thanked Lyons for bringing the town and School Department “to a point where we were able to bring forth a comprehensive plan for a new High School. We would have gotten a pass on that, but you wouldn’t stand for that.”

Member Kevin Piskadlo said Lyons’ successes in meeting goals “are more meaningful due to the challenges we’ve had. Despite challenges, work in the schools continued and flourished due to the dedication of Lyons and the staff he put together.”

Piskadlo also praised Lyons’ performance “as our community continues to become more diverse, particularly in regard to social justice issues. He has exhibited a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

 “We need to continue to discuss how we represent Native Americans and people of color,” Markham feels, pointing out Lyons’ role in helping facilitate changing the High School sports logo away from a Native American image.

From that he briefly digressed into reporting that Ohio State University has informed the School Department that  they feel that the proposed logo of the word “Warriors” superimposed over a large ‘W,’ in similar colors, dilutes OSU’s brand, without using the words copyright or trademark infringement.

He also dispelled rumors OSU is suing the town, but advised, “it is in our interest not to protest.”

He also pointed out the OSU-like logo is or was an interim logo and no official action has been taken by the School Committee.

 The evaluation was based on Lyons’ progress towards goals, specifically student learning, district improvement, management and operations, communications with the school community and  community at-large and creating a professional culture. School Committee member Kevin Fontanella explained rating categories of exemplary as “going above and beyond” and being an example to others in the district, proficient as meeting professional expectations and needs improvement as “things we have to work on.”

 “For the most part he met the goals,” he said of Lyons. “He is proficient in our goals and the administrative structure that has been put in place and the commitment to curriculum in these difficult times is exemplary. It’s evident that the structure he has built is sound and will yield impressive results, if we stay the course.”

“To meet these goals was a Herculean effort given the distractions we had,” member Mike Boudreau added. “Holding things together in these times was incredible. He kept the ship afloat during difficult times.”

“The overall atmosphere is exceptionally positive,” member Stephan Ingalls feels. “ I can’t help but thinking teachers enjoy working in our district.”

Nevertheless, member Amy Leeman feels “we’re missing opportunities to push students higher and raise the bar at every level,” although she thanked Lyons for the “ton of hours” he puts in. 

Regarding communication within the School Dept. and the community at-large, Piskadlo qualified any criticism by saying “in every organization communication is an area of growth. The way we interact with the staff is critical. Ways to improve relations are important.”

“We need to recognize the issues facing teachers and be open to other points of view,” Markham agreed.

“One of the things he does well is communicating with the public,” member Eileen Colleran said of Lyons in reference to video-conferences held with parents, teachers and others. “I appreciated it as a member of the School Committee and a parent.”  

“Thank you for all the kind words,” Lyons reacted. “This is a great gig; I’m lucky to have it.  Everything you said will give me plenty to think about and discuss with the leadership team and staff. What matters is what happens everyday in classrooms. I will give all this significant thought on how we can continue to improve the district.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Lyons added. Improving relations with the Education Association is not lost on me. We need to craft an amazing contract with teachers that is also sustainable year to year.”

He also thanked his staff. “You’re not going to be productive without exceptional people around you,” he said, before predicting some of his staff members would become superintendents themselves.