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Loyal wise to look internally

You see the scenario all the time with professional sports franchises: they lose a head coach or general manager, and then face the choice between promoting a new leader from within the organization or doing an external search to bring in a fresh perspective. The Loyal School District was at that same crossroads recently in its need for a new full-time district administrator.

Loyal made its decision -- one we fully support -- to promote someone who has not only shown he can succeed at any level, but who has proven he’s a faithful team player. In hiring Chris Lindner to succeed Cale Jackson (who resigned last July for a new superintendent job in Darlington), the Loyal Board of Education went with continuity over change. That may not be the sexiest decision for a sports franchise that has been stagnant, but for a school district that has moved forward as times have changed and established new traditions of success, it’s a smart one.

The Loyal School District knows something about bringing in new people for leadership roles, only to see the plan implode. It has been fortunate at the superintendent level to have stability -only three people have held that job over the last 35 years -- but it went through high school principals for a while like a long-distance runners goes through shoes. Every time one would be hired and settle in, they’d move on to the next job and the district was left to regroup.

That changed about nine years ago, when Lindner became the high school principal and then Jackson was hired as the administrator. Together they formed a young team that instilled in the district an idea of success for every student, and brought in a new infusion of Greyhound pride. It appeared if the Jackson-Lindner duo would carry that progress along for some time, until Jackson somewhat unexpectedly left for a new challenge elsewhere.

The Loyal Board wisely took its time in setting a new direction. By bringing in veteran administrator Mark Lacke as an interim for this year, it bought some time to think through the implications of the next permanent hire. That time helped the Board see that the best course of action was to look within for its next superintendent, and there it found a candidate who has proven and often hard-to-find commodities of passion for what he does, and dedication to the place where he does it.

Oh, sure, sometimes professional sports franchises make splashy hires of new people who have been celebrated elsewhere, but most often, that person is just looking for the next ego trip. As we see it, it’s better to bring on the proven workhorse you already have in the stable than to go out and spend big money for a fancy thoroughbred that will run a race or two for you and then move on to the next great thing.

Members of the TRG editorial Board include Publisher Kris O’Leary, Editor Dean Lesar, and Carol O’Leary.