Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2001

Eudora’s oldest, youngest learn from new principals

Lauer comes from Seneca to Nottingham

August 16, 2001

For the last month, Jim Lauer was like Superman here one minute, gone the next. For seven of nine days, he beat down highways 24 and 75, a drive he found relaxing, to split his time between Eudora and Seneca.

Although no one spotted Lauer in tights and a cape, Nottingham Elementary School's new principal has been known to shave his beard or mustache, and even dress the part of the movie character Mrs. Doubtfire if it gives school children an incentive to learn.

Lauer, who replaces retired principal Tom Jerome, comes to Eudora from Seneca where for nine years he served as elementary school and middle school principal and as athletics and activities director.

"It's not the same everywhere," Lauer said, "but it's the same intent to have them do well. Kids need to be excited to come to school."

Aside from changing his appearance as part of a deal with classrooms that meet a certain goal, Lauer said he liked to be the type of principal who greets students with a smile as they enter the building each morning. The burley Lauer said he's used to children crawling on him and giving the tall principal "leg hugs."

The Emporia State University graduate said a love of children and the joy of watching them learn drew him to educate younger children.

"The progress they show is so obvious," Lauer said. "That's the enjoyment of it. When there's something they catch on to, they just light up."

He said his involvement in education didn't stop at the school's door but included visiting students at home to help them with math or having them stop by his home.

Lauer also spent 14 years at Jackson Heights teaching sixth, seventh and eighth grades and did his student teaching at Northern Heights in a fourth-grade classroom.

Aside from the proximity of family, Lauer said part of Eudora's draw was the good feeling his wife had about the town. Lauer added he was thankful for five teenage boys who helped the family move into their new home and showed his sons around Eudora.

The couple has five children between them, and he said they're waiting to see which of them will join the couple in Eudora.

Lauer said he doesn't have specific, traditional hobbies like building birdhouses, although he said putting up a mailbox at their new home proved an interesting feat. When he's not at school he enjoys savoring his free time with his family, which includes watching his son perform in theatrical and musical performances. Lauer even relished the 6 a.m. drives from Seneca to Eudora as a free-time activity.

For the former ESU basketball player, sports still manage to play a role in his life, whether it's umpiring more than 300 games a summer in Seneca, where umpires are scarce, or just watching events.

"I can go watch people I don't even know," he said.

Although Lauer didn't officially begin work until Aug. 1, early last week he could already navigate Nottingham's crooked hallways. Lauer stopped at the doors to the outside, wondering where he should plant himself at 8 a.m. weekday mornings to greet students with a smile and receive "leg hugs."

"I'm large, but I'm kind of friendly," he said.

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