Before saying goodbye to the 2021-22 school year, we released our 2022 Spring Newsletter to highlight the profound stories from students, educators and volunteers. It is a great pleasure for us to congratulate and say thank you to the service of all LPS 2022 retirees.
Dr. Steve Joel is finishing a 12-year journey at Lincoln Public Schools with his retirement on June 30th. Check out Dr. Steve Joel’s last interview with the Foundation.
“I get way too much credit for all the things about LPS that are so wonderful. It’s really a collective effort. No superintendent can accomplish great things without great teams, a great school, a great school board, and an amazing community.” – Dr. Steve Joel.
Q. What are your proudest of from your time with LPS?
There are a few things, but our relationship with the school board certainly makes the top of the list in addition to the programs the Foundation has been able to bring to life – some of this just wouldn’t be possible without them. Another proud accomplishment is our first strategic plan that will lead to a higher-level of strategic thinking and open the door for students from all walks of life, creative thinking, and an even stronger collaboration with the community.
“This is truly a community where we don’t just say we are all in it together – but we live it, from the board to the staff to the community.” - Dr. Steve Joel
Q. How do you stay connected with the students of LPS?
I love to walk the hallways of our schools and I love meeting with the students. In fact, this is the favorite part of my job. I meet with students individually; I am a teen mentor in our district, and I also have a student advisory group in the LPS district that I meet with regularly. It’s important to see what life is like through our young people who are starting to make their way.
Q. How has equity played a role in the priorities of LPS?
Lincoln Public Schools started working on equity about 12 years ago, way before the heavy focus on the world on equity. In fact, this is one area where we have truly led the country. I’m constantly asking students, “Do you feel that we are meeting your needs? Are our teachers more understanding and thoughtful about the differences every kid brings along with them?” I’ve seen our collective equity efforts at work within our classrooms and it’s exciting.
Q. What makes LPS different from other districts?
One component that really sets us apart is longevity. The culture of a school district can be directly correlated to the longevity of the superintendent and the school board. Currently, across the country the culture of school districts is being shaken up due to the lack of longevity. We are lucky at LPS to still have longevity of both. And as I retire, we maintain components of longevity on our school board so history isn’t lost. One really supports the other through change, and it will do the same for LPS.
Q. What will you miss the most about being superintendent?
I am going to miss the kids a lot, as well as my team. I’ve been very cognizant of everything I do is the last – that last time I’ll visit a school, the last time I’ll attend an event, etc. I am making it a priority to take it all in as my last day grows closer.
I’m not sad about my career ending, I’m excited for LPS. It isn’t what you accomplish during your role, it’s what the organization looks like when you leave. I feel great about what Dr. Paul Gausman is walking into. We are a better organization today than we were four years ago and that makes me feel good.
Q. What will you do in retirement?
My wife and I have never taken a 2-week vacation so that’s on the agenda. I am committed to working out and staying healthy, picking up golf, spending time with my grandchildren, and staying out of my wife’s way!
“There are very few things I don’t like about this job. I have never had a day when I didn’t want to go to work.” - Dr. Steve Joel
Q. What are the most important things to remember for our upcoming superintendent or any superintendent?
1. Never, ever forget that it’s about the kids. They always come first. They are our legacy.
2. During times of challenging make sure you are visible. Being present and responding in the moment is not a choice, it’s a requirement.
3. We get stronger through the things that challenge us most.
Check out all the stories in our 2022 Spring Newsletter (download).