Southland superintendent to retire at end of year

Monday, November 9, 2009
Southland Superintendent Raymond Lasley sits at a desk that he will be giving up following his retirement at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. (Staff photo by George Anderson)

CARDWELL, Mo. -- A long-time educator who has worked for several school districts in the area will be retiring at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, closing the door on a career of more than 30-years.

Raymond Lasley, superintendent of the Southland School District, recently announced that at the end of his current contract, he will be retiring from the education field, citing health reasons.

Lasley said he has not thought about retiring, yet his health condition is forcing him to do so.

"Actually, I had planned to go for several more years," Lasley said. "I had to have knee surgery this summer, which is the second time I've had to have knee surgery. We were trying to buy time."

Lasley said his doctor told him the surgery would hopefully give him two to 10 years before he had to have a knee replacement.

"It didn't work," Lasley said. "I'm going to have to have a replacement. Rehab on a knee replacement is about three months and there is no way I can be gone three months and be superintendent.

Lasley said he will put off the surgery for a little while after he retires, but he will have it within the next year.

"I wanted to go ahead and give the board notice that I was planning on leaving so they could start searching for a replacement," Lasley said. "There is not a large pool of superintendents out there. I want Southland to be able to find a good one.

"It is an interesting job, but it is a demanding job. They need the right person in here"

Lasley said his wife retired about three years ago, yet he hasn't given it any thought until now.

"I just wouldn't think about retiring," Lasley said. "I don't have any hobbies. I don't hunt. I don't fish. I come to school. I don't take my vacation. I haven't in years.

"When you thing about [retiring], you are going to be off work a long time. I am 60-years-old and education has been very good to me and my family. My wife is a teacher. My son is a college teacher. My daughter has her master's degree in physical therapy."

Lasley said after retiring, he plans to spend more time with his grandchildren and wife.

"My mom and dad are still in pretty good health," Lasley said. "I'm going to spend more time with them.

"My wife is thinking that I need some hobbies and she is trying to pick some out for me. I piddle around with building things and she was showing me a table in a store she had made a drawing of and she said, 'I need you to build me that table.' So she wants me to start doing some woodworking. I'm sure that she is going to have a big list of them for me to do for a while."

Lasley began his career in education in 1973 at Harrisburg, Ark. From Harrisburg, he went to Blytheville High School, then to Senath Junior High and High School. After Senath, Lasley went to Crowley's Ridge Academy, then to Delta C-7, then Holcomb High School. After Holcomb, Lasley went to Southland High School, then back to Senath, then to Southland again where he has spent the last 12-years.

In his more-than-30-year career, Lasley said he spent most of his 17-years in the classroom teaching high school math and science.

"Some of the things that really make you enjoy [teaching] is... it is almost impossible for me to go to Jonesboro, Turtle Creek Mall, shopping that I don't run into a former student," Lasley said. "That is a lot of fun to me. To have kids come up to me that I have known in the past and now they are grown

"I've been in Memphis and it has happened. And that is nice. Hopefully, they remember some of the good about me."

"At least they didn't throw anything at me," Lasley said jokingly. "That, I guess, is one of the nicest things about the education profession. You deal with people. You get to know them pretty good, but then they move on."

Lasley said when he was principal at Senath High School, he had the son of one of his former students when he was a teacher at Senath, and that students daughter is now a student at Southland.

"I've got grandkids of some of my original students," Lasley said laughing. "And that is nice, too."

Lasley said one of his fondest memories is having a student ask him to perform his wedding ceremony.

"Brian Godsey was a student of mine and he was also my teacher's aide there at Senath," Lasley said. "When he and Andrea decided to get married, they asked me to perform their wedding ceremony."

Lasley said when Godsey asked him to perform the ceremony he was "awestruck that he though that much of me."

"That is something I've always remembered and appreciated," Lasley said. "It was something special for me."

Lasley said the thing he will miss the most after retiring is making a difference in children's lives.

"I work with really good people," Lasley said. "I know I will miss them.

"I am at an unusual position down here at Southland. I was down talking to my coach this morning first hour [and] the preschool was playing in the gym. I had four little preschool kids come up and hug me. That is not a normal superintendent job. Some of them ride my bus. Some of them came up and hugged me because they saw somebody else hug me. That is nice."

"This year's seniors were first graders when I came here," Lasley said.

"I knew them when they were little bitty kids. Now, they have grown up to be young men and young women and they will be graduating next spring.

"You watch that and it is almost like they are your own kids. I see them everyday and I make a difference in their lives. I think I'll miss that -- being an important part in kids lives."

Your voice matters. Leave a comment below.
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: