The Final Stand-off with Toby Dawn
Dreaming the Dreams of Our Children
Written by Dr. Tom Deighan, LPS Superintendent
The angry, red-haired giant locked eyes with me from a block away. My life-long friend and child hero, Toby Dawn McIntyre, had not visited since his meltdown last March, so his appearing in broad daylight shocked me. I first suspected rabies, then I got scared, really scared. He started out as a gangly kid, so I got my bluff in early, but he’s been able to whoop me since 8th grade. And from the look in his eyes, he finally figured out the damage he could do. Toby’s gaze never wavered, and as he got closer, I saw the veins distend on his neck and his chest heave in anger. He was moving too fast for me to run, and all I had was an empty Yoo-Hoo can I just pulled from a tree branch, but it did not matter. Toby soon towered over me, flaring his shoulders out, and I braced for the blow.
Time almost stopped, and I remember both clenched fists flailing back as I closed my eyes. In that split-second, a lot flashed through my mind. Misadventures with Toby. Times with my family. Serving as an educator, especially here at LPS . . . and terrifying images of mimes. (Yes, I suffer from mild metamfiezomaiophobia.) In that split-second, however, I was overjoyed to have served with the best educators, parents, and students as I got to explore the Wichita Mountains and have world-class donuts every day to boot. What a life!
I lost my breath when he finally made contact; then I realized that Toby Dawn McIntyre was hugging me. “Tommy Boy!” He wailed. “Forgive me . . . (sobbing) . . . I just knew our kids wouldn’t stop growing up while we adults got our acts together, so I have been tough on you and the Board lately.” Red hair, red eyes, and a red face are an intimidating combination. “You can’t kick any more cans down the road (sniff). You gotta fight for your kids, all fourteen-thousand of them, no matter what anyone says.” Then Toby wiped his eyes and grew very serious. “Don’t let another generation of kids go to school under leaky roofs and without adequate resources.” As I stood there, I wished Toby Dawn had just decked me.
Everyone knows that the Board of Education just approved a bond proposal, and while it is not my job to convince people to vote for it, I could not argue with Toby. In the next few weeks, we will approve the last of our worse roofs and HVAC systems. Principals will be deciding upon the next round of textbooks/resources to buy this year. The Board has added new playgrounds for all elementary schools and following in Eisenhower’s steps, LHS window plans are ready to bid any day. MHS window replacements and cafeteria renovation are both at the architect, too. The Board purposely waited until all remaining big projects were commissioned or approved to set this next bond election. We know there is no perfect timing for this and no perfect plan. We also know there are other needs, like a sports complex, but we must go in order.
First step: our previous superintendents and boards of education focused on making the buildings safe. Second step: the district focused on equipping teachers with basic technology and students with basic resources like textbooks. We are now ready for the third step: providing our teachers and students the things that other districts take for granted. Safe rooms, student equipment, up-to-date classrooms, and a middle school should not be considered extras. Our kids deserve to perform and participate in their activities with the proper equipment. They deserve the things other districts take for granted. The board’s plan addresses all of these things, and in the coming weeks, every detail will be explained. We will not catch up overnight, but over time, if we keep striving, we adults might just earn our students’ trademark: Best in the Southwest.