“My motivation for going into education was that I really wanted to help youngsters who didn’t have access to good values. By teaching math, and coaching them in football and wrestling, I could be a role model to look up to. I enjoy guiding kids, especially those that had a tough background as I always related well with these kids. Then I realized that I might do a better job at leading than teaching. Once I received my first position in leadership, I knew this role was a great fit for me and, in turn, it allowed me to assist an organization to be great.”
These words, spoken by new Superintendent Luke Francois, Ed.D., in the July 14, 2011 edition of The Democrat Tribune proved prophetic. During the past seven years, the Mineral Point Unified School District has accomplished many great things under his leadership. A timeline of some of these achievements can be found here: https://goo.gl/f6FeJs
As August winds down, the time has now come for Dr. Francois to pursue his next professional endeavor as the Executive Director of Business Services for the Sauk Prairie School District.
“Joining the Sauk Prairie School District will reduce my commute and allow me to regain time with family, lessen my responsibilities, and afford me the opportunity to be mentored by a servant leader, Superintendent Dr. Cliff Thompson,” said Francois.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to work with Luke for long, but one of the things that impressed me was when he stressed he wanted me to have time with my family in addition to fulfilling my job duties. I’m sad to see Luke leaving but am glad he will now get to spend more time with his family.”
Putting service above self, Dr. Francois donated his time by serving with the following organizations during his tenure: Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Mineral Point Excellence in Education Endowment Ex-Officio, Mineral Point Kiwanis Past President, Mineral Point Public Library Board of Directors, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators Policy Committee, Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control, and Wisconsin School Music Association Board of Directors. He also served as a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Master Educator Assessor.
“Luke always challenged us to grow and continuously move forward. I think we can all agree that we are in a much different place now after his leadership.”
What do you feel you could’ve done better or what is something you wished you could’ve accomplished but didn’t? “Much of what I wish I would have accomplished is before the community as a referendum question to improve elementary school conditions. Kids and staff especially need better air quality in the hotter months surrounding summer. I would have liked to upgrade the weight room. It is significantly undersized for our physical education classes and athletic programs. Beyond that, I wish I could have had a season on the mat coaching alongside Scott Schmitz. I also wish I would have been able to participate in the Cornwall exchange program.”
“As a new addition to the district, Luke was a support I couldn’t have survived without. He always, always had a welcoming smile and greeted me every time we crossed paths–from a quick hello in the hallways, to lunchtime conversations, attentive listening to what I had to say, and making a personal connection within those conversations. I am so grateful for the unmatched support he gave to me. It drove me to do even more than I thought was possible. He led me to be a better person inside, and out of, the school walls. I know he will be missed, and I also know he will be a stellar addition to the Sauk Prairie District. Luke, you were an asset to Mineral Point, and I sincerely appreciate what you did to encourage me and my position at MPSD. Thank you.”
Coming in as a brand new superintendent, what are some memorable things you learned over the last seven years? How have you grown or changed for the better? “As a new superintendent, I sometimes leaped into initiatives without first building capacity and consensus. However, trying new ideas allowed me to learn what worked and what didn’t. Later in my tenure, I found a better balance between moving the district forward while bringing staff along.”
“Your vision for our district has allowed us to better serve our kids and community. Your drive to create and achieve lofty goals is truly exceptional. Thank you for your time in Mineral Point, and best wishes for the future.”
What do you hope your greatest legacy left in MP is, or what do you want to be most remembered for? “I would like to be remembered for implementing Professional Learning Communities with time embedded in the school day for collaboration and intervention. My legacy hopefully leaves behind a culture laser focused on student learning and results to drive continuous improvement.”
“Luke, it has been a pleasure working with you and getting to know you. I appreciated that I could come to you about anything, even just to chat. I would have to say my favorite memory was seeing you as Bret Michaels in the Homecoming parade! I’m going to miss you but I wish you the very best on this new adventure!”
“Something else I am most proud of is that fund balance is higher than when I arrived, property taxes are lower than when I arrived, and our achievement is significantly higher given the previous two.”
“Your confidence in my abilities was sometimes more than I had myself. I am happy you have found a position that will enable you to be closer to your family as the time we have with our own kids at home flies by. I will miss your guidance and positivity, but I know that we are on the right path here in MP thanks to your guidance and vision. Blessings to you and your family. Good luck and best wishes.”
“As I depart, I think it is important to know that the superintendency is a demanding job that includes also serving as the business manager, technology coordinator, human resource director, with oversight of curriculum and instruction. I leave the district knowing that I gave my very best to improve each area and am proud of what was accomplished. What I will cherish most, though, are the many great staff members and people in Mineral Point who befriended me with kindness and grace. It is the people who make Mineral Point special.”
“Luke has been an amazing leader and he will be missed greatly. I only had the privilege of working for Luke for just a year, but in that time I was always impressed with his ability to lead positively and professionally, to offer support and guidance, and he always heard what his staff had to say. Luke was a great listener. He is extremely knowledgeable and because of his progressive thinking was able to accomplish so much while here. He cared for the staff and students, and always wanted what was best for kids. He was a force while he was here and I always felt content and safe working for him. He was a big reason why I wanted to work at MP, along with the success MP had under his guidance. Luke will be missed more than he will ever know. As I continue the last 25 or so years of my career I will always think about Luke fondly and I am positive he will be the most top notch administrator I ever had the privilege of working for. I wish him the very best in his future and know he will go on to do great things. Thanks for everything, Luke.”
Any final words? “No words, other than appreciation, gratitude, and love for the MP community, staff, and schools. On #PointerNation.”
(Staff comments in blue)