Written by Tom Deighan, LPS Superintendent
Honestly, I always thought they were a bunch of wierdos – smug and pretentious at best, addicts at worst, each one of them as insufferable as the next, using words like machiatto, vente, and latte. But the worst are those who insist on having it black, as if it is a sign of moral superiority. Yes, I am talking about coffee-drinkers. Any other group of people so brazenly addicted to a psychotropic drug would be rushed into treatment, stigmatized, forced to lurk in the shadows of society, but not the coffee crowd. They are the movers and shakers, sophisticates, staring condescendingly at people over their exotic, five-dollar cups of designer brew. I defiantly stare back as I clasp my diet soda with both hands, screaming inside, you’re not better than me!
Then something amazing happened a couple of months ago at the Governor’s STEM Conference. The Cox Convention Center was so frigid that I could see my breath. I circled the stainless steel dispensers several times, hoping one of them was plain hot water, but coffee was the only option. I picked up one of the little white cups and filled it up, adding four packets of sweetener and two creamers . . . and oh, Glory! The warmth was the first thing I noticed as I opened my laptop to effortlessly catch up on some work. I then noticed just how many nice, quality people filled the convention center, moving almost rhythmically, as if Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews could bring them all together in a Mary Poppins song at any moment. The sun was brighter, the birds were singing, and all was suddenly right with the world.
For a while I managed it pretty well, keeping it to an occasional cup on my way to work, but I have been sliding down the rabbit hole ever since. The last few weeks have been a wonderful blur, but I have come to the sobering conclusion that I am a coffee addict. As such, I humbly ask all of you java junkies to please forgive me; you were better than me. I was just a fool, completely unaware of the blissful parallel universe musically humming right alongside me my whole life. Thank you for your hazelnut, French vanilla, and pumpkin spice world of wonder where everyone is more cheerful, less annoying, and so much more attractive. Of course, I don’t leave the house without mints anymore, and the tip of my tongue is boiled smooth, but I have seen the light. Oh Glory!
It may be the coffee speaking, but I don’t know that I have ever seen a brighter future for Lawton Public Schools. In fact, most days at LPS are like discovering coffee for the first time, and I see no end in sight. In every way, LPS staff and students humble me with their accomplishments. Part blue-collar grit, part Army Strong, and part Western Oklahoma tough, Lawton Fort Sill is a special place that welcomes people from literally all over the world, like coffee-drinkers beckoning people in from the cold. That unique mix has created the most amazing group of educators you will find anywhere, and the academic gains they have made with our students in recent years is just the start. I can’t wait to see where we are in two or three years. The state (and nation) are starting to ask questions about Lawton Public Schools, and I am proud to point them to the people who make it all work. So when I say that LPS is better than a good cup of coffee, I don’t take that lightly. I am still not ready to pay five bucks for a one-dollar cup of joe, but I am afraid I am hooked on the black stuff for good. . . and LPS.