Superintendent Robert Bagby decade broadens student opportunities

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[July 14, 2019]  LINCOLN - As most of us were planning our Fourth of July, Lincoln Community High School Superintendent Robert Bagby had a more personal mile marker to enjoy with his family and friends. Bagby retired as LCHS Superintendent as of the end of June.

Bagby knew long ago, from the time when he was a youngster himself, he wanted to work in the field of education. He had a full vision of what that looked like, and it all came to be so.

He said, “My mother was a kindergarten teacher for 38 years, so education was a natural career choice for me. Plus, I always wanted to be a head football coach, which I was for 15 years.”

During his time as LCHS Superintendent, Bagby achieved several things and saw some major changes.

He says, “The most significant changes during my tenure at LCHS include the addition of the Freshmen Academy; the addition of the Alternative High School, which has now graduated over 300 students; and the addition of Dual Credit College Courses, students can now enroll in college as second semester freshmen or even sophomore status.”

Other educational opportunity changes during Superintendent Bagby’s 10-year-tenure include the expansion of the Lincolnland Technical Education Center (LTEC).

LTEC has a wide variety of highly successful career programs targeted to aid students in their post high school transitions.

Bagby enjoyed sharing the most recent addition to the LTEC includes “our own Cosmetology Lab.” Other LTEC curriculum includes: Advanced Metals, Automotive Technology, Building Trades, CEO Program, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Health Occupations (CNA); and new this coming year, Introduction to Computer Science.

The programs serve the nearby school districts of Greenview, Hartsburg-Emden, Illini Central, Lincoln Community High School, Mount Pulaski, Porta, and Williamsville-Sherman.

Bagby has also overseen the expansion of the Lincoln Community High School Foundation, which continues to provide $100,000 in financial aid to students on an annual basis; updated facilities including a new roof last year, which the Board of Education paid for in cash; and LCHS is the only district in Regional Office of Education District 17 to balance their budget 10 years in a row.”

Looking back through the years, some of Bagby’s genuine passion for the work he did can be seen in his statement, “I thoroughly enjoyed coming to work on a daily basis. I rarely had a bad day. My vision for the school was simply to give an honest effort and do the best job for students and staff that I could. I do hope people who know me appreciate the time we spent together, and I hope I have left LCHS a better place than ten years ago.”

For Bagby, accessibility is the most important aspect of being a school superintendent. He says, “I tried to be accessible to students, parents, and the community by attending as many school and community functions as possible. I always thought it was easier to solve problems in a non-school setting.”

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Thinking back on what has changed most in administration; he has one most clear thought to share, “I think the biggest change in administration has been the addition of social media. Anyone can make a post on social media, whether there is any truth to it or not, and it spreads. School districts have no way to tell the ‘real story.’ "

There are a few things Bagby wishes he could have done differently over the years. For example, he says, “I wish I was better with social media and technology and would have done a better job in communicating directly to individuals with no connection to the school.”

Social media was one challenging aspect of administration for Bagby, who said, “Social media does not do our school justice at times. It makes the teaching profession more challenging.”

For the most part, though, Bagby has found the work to be a good experience and said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 35 years in education, the last 18 as a superintendent. I was able to watch dedicated teachers in the classroom and on the court/field make a difference in the lives of young people. I was able to watch students grow and mature into contributing members of society. I still receive emails and phone calls on a regular basis from students, and this means a great deal to me.”

What Bagby will miss most is the students and staff. Bagby said, “My wife and I really enjoyed attending games, plays, concerts, [and other events] and getting to know students outside of the regular school setting.”

For those who want to serve in administrative roles, Bagby said, “My advice to future administrators is to continue to believe in your students and staff and not worry about the constant critics.”

Of his plans for the near future, Bagby said, “I plan to spend the next year reconnecting with my four grandchildren. I have missed a lot of their activities the past few years and I plan to watch as many of their games/activities as possible. I also have accepted an interim superintendent of schools position, which means getting to know another group of students and staff members.”

[Angela Reiners]


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