I graduated from Wood River in 1986 (see attached photo); the third of five children of Loyd and Judy Luehr. My parents and my four siblings are all alumni of the Eagles. I walked on with the Husker football team at UNL while majoring in Education with a double endorsement in Math and Physics. After graduation I returned home to farm and raise pigs with my Dad. I married my High School and College sweetheart Becky Bolli (see attached) from our Loup-Platte conference foe Burwell Longhorns. We now have five children (attached) of our own who all attend or have graduated from Wood River. They are as follows: Matty (the trailblazer) is 19 and a Sophomore at Concordia University; Sam (the peacemaker) is 18 and a Senior at WR; Elle (the volcano) is 16 and a Junior at WR; Gideon (the heart of gold) is 14 and a Freshman at WR; and Josh (the culture changer) is 10 and a 5th grader at WR.
I believe Wood River has some of the best overall facilities of any school our size. We also have an excellent staff of professional educators who have the district’s students’ best interests at heart. We have an excellent food service program, a great office staff, fantastic custodial staff (the cleanest facilities of any school district bar none), and wonderful para-professionals and aides to assist our teachers to teach at their best.
If there is one thing I would like to see continual improvement for Wood River it would be CULTURE. I will provide you two examples of what I mean by “culture change”.
First, Wood River school system gives groups of people privileges that are neither earned nor merited in any way but are based solely on chronological age. We see this in every facet of school life from our seniors always going first in the lunch line (they will even bypass younger students who have been waiting in line for a period of time), to our seniors cutting to the front of the line for school physicals (showing no sense of leadership as a TRUE leader always makes sure those under them are taken care of first). This type of “culture” fosters an environment not of respect, but of bullying. The seniors constantly remind the juniors of their comparative status as being a step below. Of course the juniors then showcase their superiority to the sophomores, and so on. This culture does not develop leadership, but an attitude of entitlement. Seniors know they don’t have to work for or earn their spot at the top because it will just be given to them regardless due solely to their age. That is true entitlement thinking. This culture does not build unity among different grade levels, but instead creates segregation and disunity as each class can hardly wait for their turn to bully the grades below them. This type of culture poisons the school from the inside out and affects all facets of student life.
Second, as we are now fully engrossed in the social media age nation-wide, far too much of our school system from staff to students are persuaded by narcissistic thinking. We are immersed in 1) Facebook (I want you to know what I’M doing); 2) Twitter (I want you to know what I’M thinking); and 3) Selfies (I want you to be able to see ME). All of these tools, while not necessarily bad in their own rite, showcase a completely “inward” focused culture. I would like to see the Wood River school system transition to 1) (how are YOU doing today?); 2) (what do YOU think about this subject?); and 3) (how can I make YOUR life better today?); which is an “outward” focused culture. An outward focused culture in a school system will cause a tidal wave of upward movement in academics, fine arts, athletics, and every other area in our school system.
I love Wood River and I want to see us continue our tradition of excellence in all areas of our school system, and we can only do that with a change from our current culture. I want the absolute best for our students and staff while carefully utilizing our tax dollars provided by our patrons. I am hoping for 2016-2017 to be Wood River’s best year ever!!!