The TCS community gathered to honor Dr. Doug Lyons for his distinguished career as an educator and advocate for schools, teachers, parents and students. Doug will retire next year as executive director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, after nearly 50 years leading both public and independent schools. During his tenure at CAIS, he traveled between the 93 member schools in the association, offering his support and guidance and inspiring staff to meet the highest standards of their mission.
Doug has thought deeply over his long career about what the optimal learning environment for children could be. As he has written: “Schooling is not simply preparation for life; it is life, to be lived each day joyfully, creatively and in an environment that displays a knowledge of and an appreciation for the uniqueness of every child.”
Doug’s vision of an ideal learning community has inspired the best work of The Children’s School. With his tutelage during workshops, our teachers have dedicated themselves to creating a warm, secure and caring environment for students and a culture in which “respect is the rule.” Doug’s emphasis on creating lessons that are meaningful, engaging and even joyful, supports TCS’s approach of offering a broad curriculum, rich in the arts, and giving children the freedom to explore and discover their individual talents. Lastly, Doug championed the idea that a hallmark of a good school is the respect and autonomy it offers its teachers. With Doug’s encouragement, TCS’s commitment to these principles has only deepened.
Perhaps Doug’s strongest boost for our work at The Children’s School is his belief that a family’s “educational return on investment will have far more power if spent in the early years.” In his eyes, it’s far more effective to cultivate a child’s social and intellectual skills at the beginning of their educational journey. Young children are naturally curious and exploratory, and when they are in an environment that nurtures those habits of mind, they retain their motivation to learn and develop the confidence to pursue their interests. Becoming an individual with lasting and fulfilling passions, Doug notes, is a gift “that lasts forever.”
Drawing on his experience as a parent and grandparent as well as an educator, Doug reminds us all of what our goals should be for the children we are raising and teaching. As he sums it up: “The ultimate hope for graduates is not merely a resume well-developed, but a life well-lived—and a firm understanding of the difference between a standard of living and a purpose in life.”
As a community, we applaud Doug Lyons for his inspiring role at CAIS. Although his counsel will be greatly missed, we are grateful for his wisdom and encouragement over many years.
Wishing you fair winds and following seas in retirement,