Words That Resonate from Dr. Doug Lyons: Invest in the Early Years

Every winter for many years, Dr. Douglas Lyons has made the journey to Scofieldtown Road to lead our Fathers’ Workshop, offering the dads in our community a forum for talking about the challenges of parenting from a father’s point of view. Drawing on his nearly 50 years of experience in education, Doug has advised and reassured hundreds of TCS dads on the joys and difficulties of fatherhood.

How lucky we have been to work with him! Over his career, Doug has become an important figure in public and private education, beginning first as a young teacher and coach and then rising to lead as a principal and superintendent of public schools. Eventually, Doug transitioned from public to private education when he became headmaster of Greenwich Country Day School. This June, he will step down as executive director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools.

Doug has long been a champion of early learning and the work we do here at the School. One could not ask for a better spokesman for the wisdom of investing in the early years and the lasting impact of a great start. Doug wrote in Connecticut magazine that writing checks to schools for his four grandchildren does not always bring a smile to his face, but his long experience in education has convinced him that the intellectual confidence and habits of mind that make for a lifelong learner are formed very early, in the beginning of a child’s educational journey. As he noted, “It is rare that a student discovers a love of learning after she has been admitted to Yale.”

In his leadership role at CAIS, Doug has been a tireless advocate for the crucial role independent schools play—not only in helping young people acquire the habits of mind they will need in the 21st century, but also in shaping the quality of American life itself. In his view, independent schools still pursue the ideal of educating “the whole child” instead of “the whole test taker,” as he outlined in a recent article in Connecticut magazine. “As a parent of alums at three separate Connecticut independent schools, I see in my own children’s words and ways a confidence and an optimism that exceeds mere academic preparation. They spent their school days with professionals who knew them, cared enough to expect their very best in all endeavors, helped them to develop moral habits and were quick to recognize and celebrate their successes. My wife and I are forever grateful.”

Schools across the state feel gratitude in return for Doug’s tutelage and encouragement. He has urged independent schools to strive for excellence and to offer students a meaningful school experience, one that will make them passionate about learning today—and for the rest of their lives. In this role, Doug has been a model for the quiet arts, taking care to listen carefully to the needs, hopes and dreams of others and playing an influential part in shaping institutions as well as the lives of individuals. He has been an invaluable mentor to The Children’s School, supporting us in our belief in that the early years are vital in the formation of a student’s mind and character. We wish him fair winds and following seas in his retirement.