Superintendent wears out shoe leather on first day

Greg Lynch arrived at the Central Kitsap School District transportation office on Wednesday morning with a spring in his step. Lynch, the new superintendent, was making his third stop of the day. It was 8:25 a.m.

By then, he was quite a familiar face in the district. It was his goal to make it out to all 23 schools in the district before school started. He fell short by just a few.

In the week before school, he attended barbecues and pizza and brown bag lunches. He also met with principals, teachers and parents. In most places, there was food involved in the socializing. He jokingly estimated that he’s gained about 15 pounds in the course of getting acquainted with the school district in the last few months.

Lynch understands that being a successful superintendent means being highly visible in the schools and the community.

“It would be realistic to think I was going to get out to the schools every day,” Lynch said. His goal is to be in the schools either two or three days a week during the school year.

He was off to a strong start.

On Wednesday morning, he started off at the district kitchen, where he enjoyed the aroma of all things baked and learned the inter-workings of the district’s food central.

Then, he played the role of dad and dropped off his 13-year-old daughter and what seemed to be all her worldly possessions at Central Kitsap Junior High School. She was starting the school year with a band instrument, a gym bag, a backpack and another bag Lynch couldn’t identify.

Then it was back into superintendent mode.

“It’s time to step back and let people do their jobs,” he said.

At the transportation office, he was to board bus No. 87 to ride the Clear Creek Elementary School route with bus driver Joan Lucke (pronounced Lucky). As he made his way toward the bus, he had to talk to everyone in sight. At a round table in the commons area, a group of bus drivers were resting before going out on their routes.

“You’re either smiling because you’ve put something in the coffee or because everything is going OK,” Lynch said to the bus drivers. “Which is it?” It was the former, they assured him.

Every time he spoke with anyone, Lynch had two questions: “Any lessons learned?” and “What can I do for you?”

The biggest problem bus drivers have is that traffic on the first day of school is a bear.

“Parents like to drive their children to school on the first day,” Lucke said as she pulled up to an empty bus stop. Parents’ cars line the driveways, which makes it difficult for the bus drivers to maneuver their buses.

Lucke is well-versed in the first day of school, as Wednesday began her 18th school year as a bus driver.

“It’s fun to build relationships with the kids and watch them grow into young adults,” she said.

At Clear Creek Elementary, Lynch got off the bus and shook as many hands as he could find, got back aboard and rode back to the district office. After a quick trip to his desk to drop off paperwork, he climbed back into his beloved gray Nissan pickup and hit the road again, this time to Olympic High School.

On the trip to the school, Lynch summed up his main priority as the superintendent.

“What I’m concerned about overall is that the kids are taken care of and the employees are taken care of,” Lynch said.

His whirlwind tour of the Olympic High School included the Eastside Alternative School, the school’s day care facility that four students and two staff members use, and, of course, the school’s kitchen.

In all his travels and observations on his first day of school in Central Kitsap, Lynch learned several lessons: No one job in the district is more important than any other and the smell of warm baked goods in school kitchens warms the heart.

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